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08/10/2008

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Asia

In my opinion, the private contracts of marrige that have been referred have their own merits, but government law should also be used to prevent commitments such as deterrence,etc.

DDG

I wish Becker would elaborate on his totally unfounded, unsupported, objections to children being raised by gay couples. Whatever happened to the "going from theory to empirics" so present in hi Theory of the Family?

Sadly, in this case, there happens to be no compelling theory and no compelling evidence to support his claim that the negatives outweigh the positives for children and gay families.

Professor Becker, it would have been a wonderful column if not for this paragraph reflecting prejudice and stereotypes.

DDG

Mr Chris Graves says that "The family is the main source of social welfare of its individuals coupled with a personalistic, caring ethic. As people become less connected with people who care for them in a tender and special way, they become more callous and less willing to care for others. People cannot live alone without ties to others. As Aristotle noted, only a beast or a god can live alone."

Precisely Sir: that is why everyone, gay and straight, should be allowed to form families and be in committed relationships.

You fail to see how your own comment makes absolutely no sense. Your bigotry gets in the way of your thinking and you come across as someone badly in need of some logic, and writing courses. Check it: you'll see how nonsensical it is.

GP

HH writes: "one cannot marry an animal any more than one can marry a chair - animals are property under the law..."

Hm - since an animal is my property I am entitled to kill it, cut it into pieces, and consume it, but marrying it is quite out of the question? Interesting perspective on "property rights".

Who says you can't marry a chair. Or an animal. Or a fictional character. Just because it doesn't conform to YOUR idea of what marriage is about? Who are you to force your narrow-minded views on others? Life is short and painful enough as it is - who are you to go around and tell people they can't do something that they think might bring them a little happiness.

"[this one guy] wants to keep an open mind—up to a point. He chuckles and chides at those quaint reactionaries who won't carry open-mindedness as far as he thinks it should be carried, but rolls a scandalized eye and clucks a warning tongue at those foolish radicals who carry it farther than that." - Hugh Nibley

mckasklep

The main "practical" objection to polygamous marriages seems to be that they usually result in undue subjugation of the female partners. This often seems to be the case even where it is legal as in Muslim dominated countries. I think it is unlikely that even "enlightened" courts such as those in MA and CA would ever sanction polygamous marriages (although the rationale used for same-sex marriages would apply equally to polygamous marriages). The main reasons these courts wouldn't is probably a combination of much greater public distaste for polygamy, and the probability that many, if not most, polygamous marriages involve subjugation of the female partners.

But, what if three gay men want to marry. The subjugation argument fails, and if "equal protection" in this context means what the MA and CA courts say it means, and if these courts are honest, they should approve a polygamous marriage between three (or more) same sex individuals.

HH

"Hm - since an animal is my property I am entitled to kill it, cut it into pieces, and consume it, but marrying it is quite out of the question? Interesting perspective on "property rights".
Who says you can't marry a chair. Or an animal. Or a fictional character. Just because it doesn't conform to YOUR idea of what marriage is about? Who are you to force your narrow-minded views on others? Life is short and painful enough as it is - who are you to go around and tell people they can't do something that they think might bring them a little happiness."

As much as I hate to engage in silly arguments, but I'm taking the bait if this is serious. If we're actually talking about marriage, or any other contract, it requires two parties that are aware that they're entering a contract. Two gay persons would count. Insane people, animals, inanimate objects, etc, clearly doesn't count. You can't foist an obligation on someone who doesn't know they're taking obligations on.

GP

HH: "As much as I hate to engage in silly arguments..."

Nothing silly about it if it establishes a point. The meaning of "marriage" thus shown to be mutable, why should it not change further? Perhaps someday people will chuckle and shake their heads when they think back at the quaint idea that marriage had to be a contract between consenting people.

Now, what marriage means has changed a lot in the last hundred years, and has had many different significances throughout the millennia and across cultures - and homosexuals wanting to marry hasn't had much to do with it. Their case is a symptom, not a cause. People do seem to have definite ideas about what marriage means to them and to their community, and it changes but not always very quickly.

Even now, the average person seems a little leery of homosexual marriage, if for no other reason than that it doesn't quite square with their idea of what marriage is all about. Given time to get used to the idea, of course, they'll wonder why they ever thought homosexuals shouldn't marry, and what the big fuss was abount anyway.

I am genuinely interested in seeing what the next generation of Westerners makes of marriage. With legal and social controls out of the picture, I imagine an impressive variety of arrangements and practices. For, who are we to tell someone what they can and can't do?

HH

"For, who are we to tell someone what they can and can't do?"

Aye, the eternal conflict: are we telling someone they can't do something or are we protecting someone who can't protect himself? I don't disagree that marriage has a mutable meaning. Any word does. Are we telling someone "you can't rob this person" or "you can't marry this person"? Is the difference one of degree or one of absolutes? Can we never stop someone or are there times when intervention is justified?

I was placing my comments in the current legal and political world, though I think they would hold up in most human societies: don't some people/animals/things deserve protection from others, in a sense? Don't very young people or animals deserve protection from people who would "marry" them and then, under the guise of marriage as we understand it, physically violate them? Wouldn't it be silly to say that an object incapable of suffering [like a chair] has been violated, or than an object incapable of agreeing to obey a contract [like a chair] has agreed to fulfill the duties under a contract.

We can talk about the proper scope of marriage and of contracts some other time. But right now, the discussion is limited to marriage as a contract conferring rights and obligations on parties, and I feel it doesn't help to undermine the meaning of the central term in the discussion.

Chris Graves

DDG makes the following reply to my comments on Gary Becker's views on homosexual marriage. Below his comments and his excerpt from my original post is my reply denoted by "CR" for "Chris' Reply."

Mr Chris Graves says that "The family is the main source of social welfare of its individuals coupled with a personalistic, caring ethic. As people become less connected with people who care for them in a tender and special way, they become more callous and less willing to care for others. People cannot live alone without ties to others. As Aristotle noted, only a beast or a god can live alone."

Precisely Sir: that is why everyone, gay and straight, should be allowed to form families and be in committed relationships.

You fail to see how your own comment makes absolutely no sense. Your bigotry gets in the way of your thinking and you come across as someone badly in need of some logic, and writing courses. Check it: you'll see how nonsensical it is.

CR (Chris' reply): Thanks for your comments, DDG. First, homosexual men have much less stable relationships than do heterosexual men who are married. Very few married men break up a marriage although about 20% of married men do things to provoke women to divorce them--adultery, abuse. Women seem to civilize and stabilize men.
Lesbian relationships are more stable than male homosexual relationships, but they may lack the ability to provide for the family in many cases. Women are also more likely to be victims of crime than men. There is a reason for men's traditional role in the family. Men also can act as emotional "containers" and provide an emotional stability for women.
In either case, children lack the direct experience of forming close relationships with both sexes as well as observing the intimate interactions between the sexes.
Finally, providing various permutations for sexual and emotional relationships introduce competition for traditional marriage, which has a proven track record for working well for everyone. CR

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