Beyond SSM – Far-fetched and vacuous or tip of the iceberg?

Pretty interesting thing I just stumbled across (via The Federalist).

In our past debates about SSM, pointing out the obvious, logical implications of arguments for re-defining marriage to include same-sex couples was variously dismissed as “false equivalencies”, “vacuous”, “far-fetched”, and as possibilities that exist only in the “slippery slope” imaginations of those who object to SSM (to wit, “I understand that no defender of SSM would have raised the idea if it had not been first made an attack point by opponents of SSM”).

It turns out, however, that a document titled Beyond Same-Sex Marriage was produced way back in the dark ages of 2006 before it was politically expedient to support SSM, in which all of the fanciful, vacuous, far-fetched, slippery slope implications of SSM we fully laid out by the burgeoning SSM movement…as long term goals. A taste:

We, the undersigned – lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) and allied activists, scholars, educators, writers, artists, lawyers, journalists, and community organizers – seek to offer friends and colleagues everywhere a new vision for securing governmental and private institutional recognition of diverse kinds of partnerships, households, kinship relationships and families. In so doing, we hope to move beyond the narrow confines of marriage politics as they exist in the United States today.

…The struggle for same-sex marriage rights is only one part of a larger effort to strengthen the security and stability of diverse households and families. LGBT communities have ample reason to recognize that families and relationships know no borders and will never slot narrowly into a single existing template.

…Marriage is not the only worthy form of family or relationship, and it should not be legally and economically privileged above all others. While we honor those for whom marriage is the most meaningful personal ­– for some, also a deeply spiritual – choice, we believe that many other kinds of kinship relationship, households, and families must also be accorded recognition.

Among these relationships that should be granted the legal and cultural equivalence of marriage are:

Committed, loving households in which there is more than one conjugal partner

…and:

Close friends and siblings who live together in long-term, committed, non-conjugal relationships, serving as each other’s primary support and caregivers

…and:

Queer couples who decide to jointly create and raise a child with another queer person or couple, in two households

Perhaps what we who oppose court imposed SSM were saying all those many months ago was not quite so vacuous and far-fetched, after all.

BTW, if you want to peruse the hundreds of signatories to this document, representing ostensibly respectable institutions like Harvard, Georgetown, Columbia, University of Texas Austin, NYU, you can find them here.

36 Responses

  1. This manifesto does not go far enough as it only advocates non-conjugal relationships between family members and doesn’t address inter-species relationships as all.

    The main brunt of this spear tip is aimed at polygamy/polyamory which has gotten such a bad name from religious whackos over the centuries. I recently became aware of the Oneida Community (as in the silverware) which practiced “Complex Marriage” (and a few other odd sexual beliefs) way back in the 1840s. These sorts of practices (despite a good run by Latter Day Saints) have never really taken root in American culture. Whose to say they won’t in the future? That’s what makes the slippery slope argument so tantalizing to make.

    My main argument against legally recognizing multi-partnered relationships is complexity. It opens up huge new venues for divorce and tort lawyers. Most polyamorous relationships don’t have the same firmness of commitment among the three relationships of a triad or the six relationships in a quadrad (if that’s a word). The way I understand it, most are primary couple with a revolving door of secondary relationships. But it’s complicated.

    The source Federalist article is really amusing in that it catalogs practices even I hadn’t been aware of and I used to listen to Dan Savage religiously. Savage (in addition to “santorum”) is very proud of coining and propagating the term “monogamish” for semi-open relationships which according to the Federalist sources are the primary arrangement in gay male relationships, and I have no reason to doubt them.

    The primary advantage of open relationships is that there are no future recriminations from breaking vows of monogamy since they have been pre-negotiated. It’s when you try to re-open the deal afterwards ala Newt Gingrich that the trouble starts.

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    • yello:

      The main brunt of this spear tip is aimed at polygamy/polyamory…

      Actually I think the primary aim of it is essentially to strip from the concept of marriage any special cultural or legal significance whatsoever, rendering virtually any type of relationship between people that involves communal living and/or caring arrangements as the equivalent, and equally deserving of cultural/legal benefits and advantages.

      SSM eliminates from the concept of marriage an historically essential characteristic of the concept, namely a relationship involving a male and a female. What the signatories of this document have signed on to is basically the further elimination of not just the number characteristic (ie two people) but pretty much any and all historically essential characteristics. For instance, the characteristic of a sexual aspect. Basically they are for rendering the concept of marriage totally obsolete, just as we suggested was the ultimate implications of the arguments being made for SSM.

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  2. if complexity is the issue, and we’re talking multiple people, just structure it as some sort of partnership. like a law firm.

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  3. Exactly. The way around it is to make marriage licenses non-exclusive. Although that really shakes up community property states. And all the school emergency contact forms need to be rewritten.

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  4. OT: Worth a read

    Shelia Blair interviews Elizabeth Warren. Warren has on her anti-crony capitalism mask here.

    http://fortune.com/2015/01/13/elizabeth-warren-sheila-bair/

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    • jnc:

      Shelia Blair interviews Elizabeth Warren.

      Sounds like the makings of another Klein/Obama type interview. Not a lot in the way of challenging or tough questions there, I am guessing.

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      • From the intro to the interview:

        Yes, she is a champion of the working class, but she couches her arguments in terms of policies that make the markets work better for all Americans. I don’t for the life of me understand what is radical or extreme about that.

        If Bair doesn’t know what is radical or extreme about Warren, she is not competent enough to be taken seriously.

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  5. “The way around it is to make marriage licenses non-exclusive. ”

    Or chuck marriage entirely as far as state provided preferences and benefits go.

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    • jnc:

      Or chuck marriage entirely as far as state provided preferences and benefits go.

      Trouble is they generally like the granting of state provided preferences and benefits to certain people. They just want them to go to other certain people.

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  6. @ScottC1: “Actually I think the primary aim of it is essentially to strip from the concept of marriage any special cultural or legal significance whatsoever, rendering virtually any type of relationship between people that involves communal living and/or caring arrangements as the equivalent, and equally deserving of cultural/legal benefits and advantages.”

    For some, the goal is the complete deconstruction of the nuclear family. Period. Same-Sex marriages are only slightly better, for them, than opposite-sex marriages because it still involves a patriarchal and oppressive model of so-called “romantic love”, partnering, and child-rearing. So it brings, even if the good guys (same-sex couples) don’t mean to, the same oppressive patriarchal evils that opposite-sex marriage does. Which is why accepting almost anything as a form of “marriage” is the goal, but also a misnomer, is the intent is, as you identify, to render marriage meaningless, a word with less import than the phrase “going steady”, akin to, possibly, “hanging out” or “in the vicinity of”.

    Which is not to say (and I think this is often a primary source of the arguments between sides here) that most proponents of SSM want to deconstruct the nuclear family. I think most of them truthfully see no connection to polyamory to SSM, and SSM has occupied the same place mixed race marriages occupied in similar peoples minds in the 50s and 60s.

    The problem with leveraging SSM to deconstruct the nuclear family is that your simply not going to get the groundswell for polyamory, interspecies marriage, marriage to inanimate objects that SSM has had. The best you can hope for is to slowly deconstruct and legal or ritual privileges or acknowledgements traditional marriage/family configurations have offered in the past.

    The end result being that groups of polyamorous multi-couples co-parenting a passel of children will still be unusual and looked at askance for many years to come. And that kids raised by two parents will tend to be better off than those raised by one, and better off than those co-parented and essentially raised by a series of Big Brothers and tutors.

    . . . tangential, but related, is this thought experiment-ish question: Would it be better for a child to be raised in a household by faithful, married opposite-sex leftist/Marxists, or for a child to be raised by married and faithful Log Cabin Republicans? Personally, I think I’d pick the latter.

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  7. @ScottC1: “If Bair doesn’t know what is radical or extreme about Warren”

    Is it just me, or have we, collectively, gone on to throwing around the terms “radical” and “extreme” when what we really mean is “demonstrably wrong”?

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    • KW:

      Is it just me, or have we, collectively, gone on to throwing around the terms “radical” and “extreme” when what we really mean is “demonstrably wrong”?

      Warren has said that the government should lend at the same rate for student loans that the Fed lends to banks overnight. As a matter of “should”, this cannot be said to be demonstrably wrong. But it is definitely both radical and extreme, along with some other descriptors like moronic and/or disingenuous.

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  8. Or chuck marriage entirely as far as state provided preferences and benefits go.

    I was waiting for that one. What took you so long?

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  9. Trouble is they generally like the granting of state provided preferences and benefits to certain people.

    Exactly what rights are so sacred that they can’t be shared? Marriage is mostly a mutual power of attorney and a tax dodge.

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    • yello:

      Exactly what rights are so sacred that they can’t be shared?

      The right to the fruits of my labor is one that comes immediately to mind.

      But I will assume here that you are talking about legal rights, not moral/natural rights. In that regard, I have never argued against “sharing” rights on grounds of “sacredness”, so that is just a straw man. However, since you already introduced your own reason (complexity) for objecting to multi-partner marriages, it seems that not even you think that all legal rights should be “shareable” by everyone in all circumstances.

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      • But I will assume here that you are talking about legal rights, not moral/natural rights.

        AAAAARRRGH! I accidentally said the Pee Wee Herman Secret Word.

        A marriage is a social construct with certain legal aspects such as joint property ownership, powers of attorney, certain tax benefits (and liabilities), framework for guardianship of minors, and probably a bunch of others. Most of these have little to do with any romantic or sexual aspect of the relationship, particularly now that spousal rape is no longer allowed.

        Very little is unique to marriage that couldn’t be conveyed into some other formal relationship.

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        • yello:

          I accidentally said the Pee Wee Herman Secret Word.

          If you really didn’t mean to ask a question about rights, then feel free to reframe your question without using the term. I am interested in what you really were trying to ask, if not about rights.

          A marriage is a social construct with certain legal aspects such as joint property ownership, powers of attorney, certain tax benefits (and liabilities), framework for guardianship of minors, and probably a bunch of others. Most of these have little to do with any romantic or sexual aspect of the relationship, particularly now that spousal rape is no longer allowed.

          The relevant question isn’t really whether or not the benefits have anything to do with any romantic or sexual (or any other) aspect of the defined relationship. The relevant question is whether the state has an interest in promoting certain kinds of relationships. If so, why and do the benefits granted further that interest. I am aware of the historical justification for the state’s interest in promoting marriage relationships, as traditionally defined. I have no idea why the state might have an interest in promoting either SSM or the relationships discussed in the document I linked to earlier.

          Very little is unique to marriage that couldn’t be conveyed into some other formal relationship

          Well, the ability to produce children together can’t be conveyed to same-sex relationships, and wouldn’t want to be conveyed to many of the others on the list. Oddly enough, that ability has a lot to do with the state's historical interest in promoting marriage as traditionally defined.

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  10. “ScottC, on February 11, 2015 at 11:23 am said:

    jnc:

    Shelia Blair interviews Elizabeth Warren.

    Sounds like the makings of another Klein/Obama type interview. Not a lot in the way of challenging or tough questions there, I am guessing.”

    What I find noteworthy is how Warren tailors her arguments to her audience. She’s a pure politician now. You won’t find her talking to Democrats or progressives about how complex regulations are a problem or why people shouldn’t be paying a 53% marginal tax rate or framing an argument about being against crony capitalism, but not against getting rich per se.

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    • jnc:

      She’s a pure politician now.

      Or, in layman’s terms, she is a liar. For example:

      I believe in small and simple rules. I’m not a fan of the big, complex rules. Complexity is a way to hide the loopholes the special deals.

      Almost certainly a blatant untruth. She believes in results that she likes, not principles like small and simple rules. There is no doubt that she prefers the complexity of a progressive tax code with lots of credits and exemptions and subsidies for her preferred constituencies to a small and simple tax code consisting of a single, flat rate applied to everyone equally.

      BTW, a real, objective journalist would have challenged this obviously false claim.

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  11. Yep Scott. I agree.

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  12. Worth a read:

    “Although the president’s rhetoric has targeted the wealthy few at the very top, his policies have hit hard against people in the middle and upper middle. The most careful study of the distributional effects of the Affordable Care Act, carried out by the Brookings Institution, finds that the benefits of Obamacare are concentrated upon the poorest 20 percent of the population. The upper 80 percent lose, with the biggest losses falling squarely upon the middle of the income distribution.

    Whatever you call this, it’s not “middle-class economics.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/securing-a-republican-advantage/385386/

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  13. International flight question.

    Nuremberg to IAD via FRA. with a 1.5 hour connection time. Is that too tight of a connection time? Would be a LH flight out of NUE and transfer to UA at FRA. Would have the family.

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    • I am not familiar with Nuremburg, but my experience on international flights is that they are usually pretty timely. And I think internal Europe flights are generally more reliable than US domestic flights. The thing you want to make sure of is that your UA flight is out of the same terminal in FRA that your LH flight comes into. As long as that is the case, and you don’t have to go through any immigration lines in FRA, I think 1.5 hours should be fine.

      Where are you going to be in Germany?

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  14. @ScottC1: “I have no idea why the state might have an interest in promoting either SSM or the relationships discussed in the document I linked to earlier.”

    The state is mostly run by lawyers, who have friends who are lawyers, and increasing the number of acrimonious divorces amongst wealthy and middle-upper-class individuals (disproportionately represented amongst same-sex couples) could mean a financial bonanza for divorce attorneys? I mean, I’m just guessing.

    Other than that, you have individuals in the state that have a social agenda that wants to normalize previously “abnormal” behaviors and styles of relationship in the name of equality, etc. So the interest there is in social engineering.

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    • KW:

      So the interest there is in social engineering.

      Which means it isn’t really a “state” interest.

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      • Pretty much. I guess the argument could be that, as citizens, the state has an interest in seeing to the emotion well-being of their citizens, and thus their overall health and productivity, in some sense, maybe. And legitimizing SSM is an emotionally volatile but practically low-impact way to do that. As to marriage in general, the state has often tended to enshrine traditions that aren’t obviously directly related to the interest of the state . . . but then it just becomes an argument of what the role of the state is. Is it to do the bare minimum to ensure personal freedom and property rights and let individuals sort out the day to day, or is it to micromanage everything to ensure equity and fairness, yada yada?

        Ultimately, I’m guessing it becomes “in the state (re: elected officials) interest because the majority of voters will support SSM in the abstract, and thus it becomes unproductive for a majority of elected officials to argue against equalizing opposite sex and same-sex marriage.

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        • KW:

          I guess the argument could be that, as citizens, the state has an interest in seeing to the emotion well-being of their citizens

          I don’t think that would be a convincing argument, except under the premise that the state has an interest in literally anything that elected politicians might have a personal interest in. I reject that premise.

          One of the primary reasons for the existence of any government is dispute resolution. Since two people are necessarily required to produce children, the production of children itself creates the conditions (a shared interest/ownership that is subject to dispute) that makes government necessary. That is to say, government as government has a natural and unavoidable interest in the production of children.

          The same cannot be said for the “emotional well-being” of citizens. The state, for example, has no natural and unavoidable interest in a citizen finding emotional validation for personal lifestyle choices.

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  15. “and you don’t have to go through any immigration lines in FRA,”

    that’s the trick. I think I might have to.

    Family tour of the Christmas market.s Munich, Fussen (maybe) Rotheburg and Nureburg. Right now it’s into MUC and out of FRA. but everything is TBD.

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    • nova:

      If you are travelling around by car, you may want to stop by Neuschwanstein Castle. It’s the castle that appears in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Cool for the kids. I was there in the summer, but I imagine it is beautiful in the winter if there is snow around.

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  16. that’s on the list– either as a day trip from Munich or if we overnight in Fussen.

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    • nova:

      I don’t know if this has any interest for you, but Oberammergau might be worth a stop, too. Famous for its passion plays and woodwork. My wife bought a bunch of religious stuff there. I bought a cuckoo clock.

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  17. OK. That was entertaining. Mike mentioned the thread to me and I couldn’t resist dropping by. Robert Heinlein explored all these possibilities decades ago. I highly recommend The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress as a primer to line marriages. Commercial law could easily handle marriage as a contract.

    As for finding emotional validation, the phrase life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness comes to mind.

    BB

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    • I am interested in the taxation theories wrt these various proposals.

      Only with a flat tax or an Adam Smith style flat tax exempting the poor would we do away with any discussion of tax advantages/disadvantages for domestic “groups”.

      As long as we have graduated taxes and marital tax breaks we have a tax incentive.

      JNC, with graduated taxes the joint tax return, which approximates the bracket that each spouse would be taxed at individually if s/he earned half the marital income, will continue, in order to equalize y’all with community property states like CA and TX. In our states, if all were taxed as individuals and with no joint returns, the force of law makes all community earnings owned equally by both members of the community. That is how y’all go joint returns historically – to equalize with TX and CA.

      But that wouldn’t mean anything with a flat tax.

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  18. FB:

    As for finding emotional validation, the phrase life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness comes to mind.

    Pursuit >< finding

    For the founders, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was an expression advocating for freedom of individual action, not a demand for government granted benefits.

    Like

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