Same-Sex Marriage: Yes, It’s Over

 

equality

Like Rachel Lu, I too felt the need to respond to the discussion in the recent Ricochet flagship podcast (May 22) about same-sex marriage. Thanks to Rachel for motivating me to do so.

For decades now, employers have offered their employees health benefits. Benefits are how an organization attracts and keeps qualified professionals. Companies that don’t offer benefits have higher turnover and attract a worse class of workers. Benefits packages are simply part of competitive compensation. You offer them because you need to.

For at least 20 years (maybe longer, but that’s how long I’ve been paying attention), organizations, universities, corporations, etc., have offered benefits to “domestic partners.” This was a bottom-up innovation. Like all bottom-up practices, a few places do it, then a few more, then a lot more do it to stay competitive, then it becomes a pretty common practice. Offering benefits to “domestic partners” was just something organizations did because they needed to. It was how they attracted and maintained professional talent.

Why did they do that? Because establishing the status of a domestic partner when a man and woman cohabited was a simple thing to do, right? No. They did it because organizations that extended benefits to the spouses of employees didn’t want to exclude gay couples. They needed to do this to attract and maintain professional talent.

Gay marriage, in the sense of two loving partners sharing their lives together, is nothing new. There’ve been loving, committed gay couple as long as there have been gay people and there have been gay people as long as there have been people.

What’s new, historically speaking, is not burning gay people at the stake. That’s only slight hyperbole. The Stonewall Riots happened 45 years ago this month. Lawrence v. Texas was decided only 11 years ago.

What do Stonewall and Lawrence v. Texas have in common? They both have to do with government oppression (sorry, but there’s frankly no other word for it) of gay people. The government’s acceptance of gay rights has been slow in coming. If politics is a lagging indicator, government is positively glacial.

If the string of legal decisions we’ve seen this year seem shockingly rapid, the whole thing has been a long time coming. The judiciary aren’t jamming anything down the public’s throat. Judges, politicians, and governments are merely responding to public sentiment, which has passed the tipping point. Above is Gallup’s polling on the subject. Look at that trend line.

If the complaint is that these changes are “undemocratic” in the sense that they did not happen through the legislative process, that may be true (in some cases).  If we take the literal definition of “democracy” as “rule by the people” … well, the people have decided on this issue. It’s the law that’s catching up.

But we don’t vote on societal changes.We don’t vote on social norms. No committee decides on them. They’re organic. They come from the bottom up. Complain about elite opinion makes all you want, but their influence only goes so far. It cannot explain the above trend line.

Friends, I understand that many of you have strong feelings on this subject. But this battle’s over. You can keep fighting this, but you’re wasting your energy. You can keep fighting this, but you’ll lose, and you’ll also lose on all the other things that you wanted to do.  

There’s no more fight to be had here.

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  1. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Fred Cole: They both have to do with government oppression (sorry, but there’s frankly no other word for it) of gay people.

     It ain’t about “oppression,” it’s about acceptance.

    Western Civilization: Yes, It’s Over

    • #1
  2. rico Member
    rico
    @rico

    It wasn’t over when it polled poorly, but wow! Fred’s cause is polling well today, so it’s over now. It’s kinda’ like settled science.

    • #2
  3. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Yes, yes the “inevitable”, march of history continues. 

    Do you have any arguments that were not tired and quaint when communists were making them over 50 years ago? 

    Worse. This is beneath you:

    The judiciary aren’t jamming anything down the public’s throat.  

    A flat out falsehood. Seek a modicum of integrity Mr. Cole.

    • #3
  4. user_280840 Member
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Jimmy Carter:

    It ain’t about “oppression,” it’s about acceptance.

    Western Civilization: Yes, It’s Over

     Look, not for nothing, but if Western Civilization can be brought down by letting half of a single digit percentage of the adult population marry the other half of a single digit percentage of the population, then it wasn’t on that great of a footing to begin with.

    • #4
  5. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Look, not for nothing, but if We let a half of a single digit percentage of the adult population determine what words mean, what institutions are, then We’ll be ruled by tyrants.

    • #5
  6. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Jimmy Carter: Look, not for nothing, but if We let a half of a single digit percentage of the adult population determine what words mean, what institutions are, then We’ll be ruled by tyrants.

    No, not the half a single digit, the 54% in the chart. I would also rather the outcome was legislative, rather than the half-fiat mess we’re getting, but Fred’s dead right about this:”…you’ll also lose on all the other things that you wanted to do.”

    • #6
  7. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Jimmy Carter:

    Look, not for nothing, but if We let a half of a single digit percentage of the adult population determine what words mean, what institutions are, then We’ll be ruled by tyrants.

     But it wasn’t homosexuals that changed what the word meant. It was the rest of society that changed the rules and definitions.  Marriage hasn’t meant what you think it means for most people for a long time. The word changed out from under you. All gay people have been doing is pointing out that under the new definition what they have is as good as what anyone else has got. 

    It is fair for you to dispute what the word means, but Fred is right on this. The law and politics are just catching up to the new understanding. There was a lot of inertia there that you all relied on too much to carry your arguments. 

    I do disagree with Mr. Cole on one thing. I don’t think you need to stop fighting, but you have to realize that you are not on solid ground. You need to rebuild the foundation first. 

    • #7
  8. Mendel Member
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    First, I find it amusing that Fred Cole, who regularly advocates for policies (such as heroin legalization) which have approximately 0% support among the American public, is advising others to give up their advocacy of a policy which not only has 43% support but is still the law of the land for the majority of Americans.

    But having said that, Valiuth is correct – and Fred too, to an extent. The definition of marriage (both in the dictionary and in our collective consciousness) has been changing ever since Reagan signed the first no-fault divorce law back in the 1960s. Like a big wave crashing on the beach, what we are now witnessing is only the inevitable, highly visible tail end of a force which has been moving for several decades.

    • #8
  9. Mendel Member
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    I do find Fred’s tone of inevitability somewhat overdone. True, gay marriage will most likely become the law in most if not all of America in the next decade or two – and as someone who generally supports SSM, yes, I am okay with that.

    But it is folly to think that any fight in American culture is over for good. We are nothing if not a country which reinvents itself every few generations. Provided we don’t kill ourselves some other way, it would not surprise me if the pro-gay pendulum starts to reverse course sometime in the longer-term future.

    • #9
  10. user_2505 Contributor
    user_2505
    @GaryMcVey

    Fred’s right. SSM opponents can’t seem to get that much of their support was passive. I was like that; if some jerko mayor like Gavin Newsome says something’s going to happen “Whether you like it or not!”, my reasonable instinct is to oppose him. But that wasn’t any kind of deep commitment, just a reflex. On the merits, there was no reason to oppose SSM. This stuff about “the real gays don’t want it, it says something that they let the activists talk for him”.  Here’s the grave marker of one of my first bosses in Los Angeles:

     Essert Abrahams grave marker

    Both dead in 1992. They’d been together since the Sixties. They never lived to see gay marriage, or were influenced by its propaganda, blah, blah. The tag line is hard to read–“Together Forever”.  But to some on this site, that’s less real than, say,  a singer and a boxer who get “married” in Vegas for three weeks.

    Yes, that’s harsh. Am I right?

    Because Fred is. The issue is done, not because the activists want it, but because so many of its former opponents are won over.

    • #10
  11. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    Fred Cole:  Look, not for nothing, but if Western Civilization can be brought down by letting half of a single digit percentage of the adult population marry the other half of a single digit percentage of the population

     If this is the case, then it undermines your own argument that employers instituted benefits for “domestic partners” in order to retain “talent”. If there are so few of them (and an even smaller % that have domestic partners), how will any employer even miss if they’re gone? 

    As for the “loving couples” throughout history: I believe polling data shows that a very large % of gay…married….couples are not…monogamous. Doesn’t sound like a lovely fairy tale to me. 

    Is the argument “over”? Well, until the Gay Mafia oversteps its bounds and continues its march towards absurdity. They’re already almost there. Houston’s mayor just passed law allowing anyone who feels a certain gender to frequent a bathroom of their choosing. Small steps towards absurdity. This can only backfire on them. 

    • #11
  12. rico Member
    rico
    @rico

    Gary McVey: But to some on this site, that’s less real than, say, a singer and a boxer who get “married” in Vegas for three weeks.

    I’m not so sure many people here would make the case as you describe it, but it is an apt example of abuse of marriage—good ammo for those who believe two wrongs make a right.

    • #12
  13. user_2505 Contributor
    user_2505
    @GaryMcVey

    A fair rhetorical point, Rico.

    • #13
  14. user_280840 Member
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Mendel:

    First, I find it amusing that Fred Cole, who regularly advocates for policies (such as heroin legalization) which have approximately 0% support among the American public, is advising others to give up their advocacy of a policy which not only has 43% support but is still the law of the land for the majority of Americans.

    Heroin legalization polls around 10%.  

    And it’s not that 43% support it, so give up.  But look at that trend line.  Look at the swing in the last ten years.  Look at the swing in the last five years!

    I keep posting this graph because its so shocking.  If I hadn’t believed in with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed that anything could change so rapidly.

    • #14
  15. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Gary McVey:

    On the merits, there was no reason to oppose SSM……

    But to some on this site, that’s less real than, say, a singer and a boxer who get “married” in Vegas for three weeks.

     With a very small number of exceptions, I feel confident that no Ricochetti marriage defender would claim that the affection of your bosses was less real. They would argue that it didn’t amount to marriage. There are many other loving relationships that are passionate, meaningful, and not marriage. I think you know that your argument is an appeal to emotion and, worse, an incitement to bigotry; you push people to disparage gay affection by dragging the fight over there. 

    In a post about how we shouldn’t fight about this, you call people bigots, and suggest that there exists no contrary argument, despite having repeatedly acknowledged in the past that contrary, albeit insufficient, arguments existed. If you wanted to insight resentment, a resentment that you would not be the primary victim of, I cannot think of a better way to do it. 

    • #15
  16. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Mendel:

    I do find Fred’s tone of inevitability somewhat overdone. True, gay marriage will most likely become the law in most if not all of America in the next decade or two – and as someone who generally supports SSM, yes, I am okay with that.

    But it is folly to think that any fight in American culture is over for good. We are nothing if not a country which reinvents itself every few generations. Provided we don’t kill ourselves some other way, it would not surprise me if the pro-gay pendulum starts to reverse course sometime in the longer-term future.

     I think that the SSM fight is probably over for good. With abortion, court decisions merely reframed the fight. We’re at a pre-Roe level of abortion now, with abortion still protected by the courts, because there was plenty to fight over and we won those fights. With SSM, the court decisions leave no room for democratic response whatsoever. 
    Of course Fred’s opportunism is ridiculous, but that’s how Fred rolls; championing democracy when the Muslim Brotherhood win, championing borders and nationalism when it comes to other arguments against US involvement in the world, championing mainstream academics when studies support him on drugs, objecting to all these when none support him. It is always a question of the weapon to hand. 

    • #16
  17. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Mendel: But having said that, Valiuth is correct – and Fred too, to an extent. The definition of marriage (both in the dictionary and in our collective consciousness) has been changing ever since Reagan signed the first no-fault divorce law back in the 1960s. Like a big wave crashing on the beach, what we are now witnessing is only the inevitable, highly visible tail end of a force which has been moving for several decades.

     I don’t think that this was inevitable, and I’m not at all sure that it’s the tail end. Property rights, restriction of the legitimate use of violence, and marriage are the three underpinnings of civilization shared between stone age tribes and us. Over the past few centuries each of those has been threatened at various times and places, but property rights, in particular, reversed its “inevitable” decline.
    We are in virgin territory, within which predictions about the future are intrinsically weak. 

    • #17
  18. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Fred Cole: The judiciary aren’t jamming anything down the public’s throat.  Judges and politicians and governments are merely responding to public sentiment, which has passed the tipping point.  Above is Gallup’s polling on the subject.  Look at that trend line.

     Most of the post is a combination of implications that opposition to SSM amounts to oppression and that support is a bottom up phenomenon, but I think that this is the most egregious of those lines. There are precisely two data points from before the moment that judges redefined legal marriage in Goodridge.
    I don’t think I know a single SSM activist, on either side, who believes that that wasn’t the defining moment, the moment when opposition to SSM meant denying that people who were legally married were, or ought to be, genuinely married. Massachusetts, didn’t follow. It led. From the bench. 
    In the same way, I don’t believe that you believe that universities changing their policies reflects a groundswell of grassroots feelings rather than ideology, with rape rules being the obvious issue du jour. If universities cannot be considered to be influenced by leftist ideologues, where on earth can be? 

    • #18
  19. user_7742 Member
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    Well, the president may be very happy that the debate is over.
    TheEmbrace

    • #19
  20. user_189393 Member
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    Time to fight for polyandry.

    • #20
  21. user_86050 Member
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    I have two main objections to Fred’s post.

    It doesn’t argue the merits of the debate. Instead, it makes a meta-judgment about how the debate is going, which is then used to justify the result. Recall Rob Long’s post from last week – as Rob says, “They’re always shifting the discussion to the meta-analysis.” Like all arguments that assure us that the debate is over, the science is settled, and so on, it argues that the currently winning side should win because it’s winning. That’s not an argument … it’s just attitude posing as argument. 

    It equates respect for gays with supporting gay marriage. When the argument refers to anti-gay bigotry and violence in the past … that implicitly asserts that unless you hold the opinion about marriage that allows gays to marry, you must be a gay hater. It blurs the distinction between an understanding of what marriage is with gay hatred.

    That’s how “the debate” has been conducted … i.e., a false debate. Gay advocates want to turn this discussion about marriage into a referendum on homosexuality, but it isn’t. It’s an argument about marriage. 

    • #21
  22. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    Fred Cole:

    Offering benefits to “domestic partners” was just something organizations offered because they needed to. It was how they attracted and maintained professional talent.

    Why did they do that?  Because establishing the status of a domestic partner when a man and woman cohabited was a simple thing to do, right?  No.  They did it because organizations that extended benefits to the spouses of employees didn’t want to exclude gay couples.  They needed to do this to attract and maintain professional talent.

    I hardly know where to begin with this.

    First, the reason that our health insurance — which is mostly what “benefits” means — is tied to our employment is because of government coercion, due to the kind of tax credits available to employers but not to individuals.  This is a terrible basis for a libertarian to base his support on SSM.

    Second, you’re now preventing people from making the opposite decision: i.e., to recruit talent based on your shared belief that marriage should be male/female.  I’m not attracted to such a position, but others might be and — if you’re going to make the free-association/liberty argument — then you should account for that.

    • #22
  23. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    “The fight against gay marriage is over.”

    Hmmm. Suppose we removed the first four words–would the sentence still be just as true? And if so, is a shrug the only possible response?

    • #23
  24. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    Another thing: I think Fred is stealing a few bases here. He’s conflating gay bashing and withholding marriage from gays. That’s quite a leap. Is there really no reason to limit marriage to breeders, other than animus? Is there really no reason to think that a 5000-year tradition, consistently maintained to a degree unmatched by any other marriage requirement (e.g., monogamy), might be robust in the future?

    • #24
  25. user_2505 Contributor
    user_2505
    @GaryMcVey

    James of England

    I think you know that your argument is an appeal to emotion and, worse, an incitement to bigotry; you push people to disparage gay affection by dragging the fight over there.

    In a post about how we shouldn’t fight about this, you call people bigots, and suggest that there exists no contrary argument, despite having repeatedly acknowledged in the past that contrary, albeit insufficient, arguments existed. If you wanted to insight resentment, a resentment that you would not be the primary victim of, I cannot think of a better way to do it.

    In one sentence you accuse me of spreading bigotry, in the next you accuse me of calling people bigots. I did no such thing, and your remarks are more than simply over the top; they are wildly disproportionate. Using appeals to emotion in these debates is not my invention, nor, self-evidently, is it confined to me.  

    BTW, I’d be very surprised if Fred Cole’s real point was “we shouldn’t fight about this”.  He wasn’t urging pacifism; he was saying the fight is over, in blunt, realistic terms. 

    Get as angry as you wish.

    • #25
  26. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Gary McVey:

    In one sentence you accuse me of spreading bigotry, in the next you accuse me of calling people bigots. I did no such thing, and your remarks are more than simply over the top; they are wildly disproportionate. Using appeals to emotion in these debates is not my invention, nor, self-evidently, is it confined to me.

     If you don’t understand how bigotry can inspire bigotry…. no, I’m sure that if you reflect on this, you will see that it’s not much of a paradox. 
    I agree that you’re not the only person to use demagoguery to increase the level of heat and decrease the level of light. How much respect do you accord homophobes who use the same argument with the same legitimacy? 

    Gary McVey:

    BTW, I’d be very surprised if Fred Cole’s real point was “we shouldn’t fight about this”. He wasn’t urging pacifism; he was saying the fight is over, in blunt, realistic terms.

     He was, as I understand it, urging acceptance, albeit in terms highly unlikely to result in that goal being achieved. Either that, or he was engaging in an end zone dance, but I thought the former assumption more flattering. 

    • #26
  27. Gary The Ex-Donk Member
    Gary The Ex-Donk
    @

    As someone who agrees with Fred’s premise I accept that it’s unrealistic to tell those who do not that they shouldn’t continue the fight.  I would, however, caution that any expectation that any of the rest of us can be rallied to dive into the breach with them at this point is just as unrealistic.  It’s not so much a question of “the fight is not over” but rather for whom is the fight not over?  That number is dwindling.

    • #27
  28. user_517406 Member
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    Sorry Fred, not buying any of what you say.  The reality of male, female and family is just too central to life and social organization. This is a silly fad.

    • #28
  29. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    Merina Smith: The reality of male, female and family…

    Stipulating that most people who advocate for SSM also denigrate and dismiss all differences between the sexes, the two are separable.  There are gay people who can and do appreciate the sexes as something innate, meaningful, and wonderful when properly channeled, but who want to have their relationships legally and socially recognized.

    • #29
  30. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    I’m afraid that’s a classic example of an Appeal to Numbers, Fred. That a percentage of the population now accepts gay marriage does not necessarily make gay marriage a good thing. KC explains that pretty well.

    Side note: You mention offering health benefits to domestic partners. An interesting side effect of New York approving SSM was that insurance companies that offered domestic partner plans ceased to do so on the grounds that partners could marry if they like for said benefits. Not all gay couples enjoying the domestic partner benefits wanted to marry, however …

    • #30

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