Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The history of marriage

CornerSolution.com

I can't add anything to this. But it's history, not confusion. Click on the counterpunch link for the full story.

25 Comments:

Blogger David Summerlin said...

I've made this point on other blogs before, and at the risk of belaboring the issue, I still seek to understand something:
Fill in the blank: "I don't believe that ___ people should be allowed to get married."
If you were to say "Jewish," or "Black," or "White," or "foreign," etc. -- you would quickly bear the mark of "bigot" with little dissent.
But when people fill in the blank with "gay," suddenly it isn't bigotry? I just don't understand how reasonable people can reach that conclusion.
Is it because some religious doctrine reinforces this bigotry? Does that somehow excuse it? I submit that bigotry often wears a religious mask, not the other way around. Please help. I really don't understand the logic of it. Democrats are often just as guilty as their republican counterparts, so this isn't strictly a left/right divide.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

David, I submit it's because we have let the right over the past 20 years dictate what is moral and correct in this country. Alvin Toffler proposed a number of years ago that we are in the middle of a major turning point in the history of humankind. The people who fear change are being swept forward, I suggest, willy nilly, and are digging in their heels and holding on with a tight grip to a past the really didn't exist. It's a heightened sense of what their grandparents felt when their children (the parents) felt when we started driving around in cars and parking in lover's lanes, only stronger because it is a more revolutionary crisis.

In the next 20 years, certainly in the next half century, we will see huge changes in the human condition. From my view of brain science, there is a race right now as to whether we will develop human intelligence first or if we will find a way to directly link human brains to computer ware. If it is the latter, then AI may fade away. We are very near ways to control the human genome to change the appearance of humans, to enable parents to select sex and other traits of a child.

I have lived through the beginning of television in this country, the development of the computer, miniaturization where I can carry more artificial calculating power in my shirt pocket today than was available on the entire earth (as far as I know) in the year of my birth. When my father-in-law, born in 1900, was four bandits escaped from his town riding a buckboard. He lived to fly in jets across a continent. Change is so dramatic that people today have lived through more revolutions in behavior than those of a millenia ago did in thousand years. No wonder people are scared and clinging to a past that never was except in the imaginations of demagogues.

I get the feeling that you are young enough that you will see the world change in many ways. I may see the first ones if they happen fast enough. And people will continue to meet change as they have in the past: with fear.

6:44 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

Does it really boil down to a fear of change? I can understand that. In tender moments I can almost excuse it to some degree. But then I can also *understand* bigotry, and in tender moments almost forgive it, to some degree. It remains difficult to stand in such righteous opposition to such a huge segment of the population, waiting for them to grow up.
I hope I'm young enough to see this change radically before I die. I expect I'm young by your standards (judging only by your posts and bio). But I was born when homosexuality was still on the APA books as a mental illness. I was born before the Stonewall riot.
Like many gay children, I grew up afraid of what was inside, so convinced of the abhorrent nature of my feelings. These feelings of self loathing didn't come naturally, but were heaped on from outside, from classmates, teachers, family.
Fortunately I was an adolescent during a more permissive era when it was cool to say "fuck the world," and I was able to get over much of it with little of the permanent psychological trauma my elders in queerdom still live with. (Instead, I just have to live with the trauma of being a high-school dropout in the early Reagan years, when we were all convinced the world was going to end soon in nuclear apocalypse and didn't care about anything.)
My husband, nine years younger, was born after Stonewall. He grew up here in Billings, though, which in many ways still seems like some awful throwback to my high-school daze. I'm not sure whether he faced significantly less trauma than I did.
When I see liberal-minded bloggers using terms for "gay" in the derogatory, and when I see the word "gay" still used as an insult even in newer pop-cultural phenomena like "South Park," I have to wonder how far we've really come since "Boys in the Band," the movie about gay self-loathing in the 1970s.
I understand, but I still don't understand -- if that makes any sense. I feel like a member of an advanced species caught in a time warp.

2:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Coobs said...

The arguements are going to be ended by the voters soon enough. The lopsided results from Missouri defining marraige will be the norm.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

Yes, Eric, it may well be that way. And it will show that bigotry, not rationality still exists in this world. It also may indicate that we are well on the road to really having "one god" and you can only hope that it's yours. David, I hear what you were saying. I was born and an adult living in the world where gay was never used. The defining word was "queer." My brother once heard of a gay person living in a small Montana town and wondered what his world was like? Montana has become, in all ways, the center of a lot of bigotry and hatred since I grew up here. On the other hand, and to be honest, small Montana towns in the 1970s were the first places where I heard of an unmarried mother being accepted by the community as a full-fledged member. Maybe there's hope yet. But the stupid may lock bigotry into the state constitution.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Eric Coobs said...

So Chuck, in Missouri, the over 70% that voted to define marraige are guilty of bigotry?

Or is it just possible, on a real stretch of imagination, that most people think marraige between a man & a woman is normal behavior?

7:37 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

Eric: Argumentum ad populum. An appeal to the majority is a logical fallacy. You suggest that because 70 percent of population voted for something, that makes it right. The argument itself is flawed.
However, there is no logical flaw in suggesting that a large percentage of a population could be bigoted. When 70% of certain populations opposed changing the laws to allow Black people to marry White people, were they bigoted then? They most certainly were, as they are today.
Bigotry among populations changes over time. This bigotry will eventually change, too. A vote doesn't stop the injustice, nor does it stop the legal challenges, nor does it stop the need to educate ignorant people about how non-threatining the gay population is to their sense of normalcy.

9:08 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

And while I'm on the subject -- since about 75 percent of the population of San Francisco where I lived for 15 years supports gay marriage, that would make it right in your book, yes? Or is it only the population of Missouri that counts?

9:11 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

Well said, David.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Eric Coobs said...

So let's get this straight - in your opinion(s) the people of Missouri are bigots, and in November the people in Montana, Michigan, Arkansas, Oregon, North Dakota, and Ohio will all be bigots too when they define marraige at the polls?

12:19 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

Montana already has a law against same sex marriage, Eric, and yes, if Montana, which has had a long history of various kinds of bigotry, votes to put the ban in our state Constitution, it will be bigotry. What else could it be?

2:24 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

I guess I was less than clear when I said that an "appeal to the majority" is a logical fallacy. Hmmm, how can I be more clear?
No matter, if you insist on invoking an appeal to the majority as your standard for determining what is right, try this one on for size:
5 states have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage. 15 states have rejected such amendments.
I win.

2:34 PM  
Blogger The Liberal Avenger said...

I can't see it as anything other than bigotry.

Gays have been marrying legally in Massachusetts without society collapsing there. What is to be afraid of?

1:32 PM  
Blogger Eric Coobs said...

So, are all the Supreme Court Justices in California bigots too, as they unanimously threw out the 4000+ illegal gay marraiges?

11:54 AM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

Eric, I have yet to read any post from you coherently explaining how laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians are NOT bigotry. You keep coming back to this "other people oppose gay marriage, too" argument, which I've already explained is logically invalid. You've got some 'splaining to do.
The California Supreme Court decision, as I'm sure you're aware, is a different matter. The justices had to decide whether or not Mayor Newsom's actions violated current state law. Not much moral ground gained or lost in that decision. California has yet to weigh in on the larger constitutional question, which will come up eventually.
In one post you vaguely groped toward an argument in favor of the FMA on the grounds that it only preserves the status quo, thereby escaping the accusation of bigotry. However, that argument merely postpones the question of bigotry, because the FMA is not only designed to preserve man/woman marriage; it was concocted in response to Massacheussetts in order to prevent federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
So if that's as coherent as you get, you'll need to do better if you want to win the war on this one. See if you can follow the logic:
1) When the courts (NOT the voters) decided to allow Black/White marriages in the early 1960s, there was widespread public outcry, much like the public outcry in response today to some states recognizing same-sex unions. Had that decision been left to the voters, Black/White couples would have lost the battle. Was that widespread public opinion a form of bigotry? If not, why not? If so, how is it so different to substitute "gay" for "Black/White?"
2) In Nazi concentration camps, Jews had to wear armbands with the Star of David. Homosexuals wore armbands with a pink triangle. Was the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews in any way related to the widespread anti-Semitism that was as common as dirt throughout the 1920s and 1930s, here and abroad? Was that a form of institutionalized bigotry? If so, was the Nazi's torture and slaughter of queers also the result of bigotry? If not, why not? To what degree did the public's widespread anti-Semitism justify the holocaust?
3) The last time I worked for someone besides myself was here in Billings at the Gazette (Lee Enterprises). Lee Enterprises offers spousal benefits, but not to same-sex spouses. So many of my co-workers, including newlyweds, could provide health insurance for their families, while I could not provide health insurance for my husband of 7 1/2 years -- despite correspondence with HR. Was this discrimination? If not, why not?
4) About a year ago my husband had a minor surgery that required an overnight stay at a hospital about 2 hours away from where we lived. In order for me to stay with him, or to make decisions in the event of an emergency, we had to have our attorney draw up Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive documents, at a cost of about $350. We stayed in a ward where straight husbands and wives accompanied their partners oblivious to any need for such documents. Why? Is this discrimination? If not, why not?
5) Much of the infrastructure of the United States was founded on wealth generated by slave labor, which was not only legal, but enshrined in the constitution. Does majority support for, and constitutional sanctioning of slavery mean that slavery was okay in your book? If not, then why the continued reliance on majority support to say it's not bigotry to discriminate against gays and lesbians today?
It doesn't take a great intellect to understand that laws which enshrine inequality for an entire group of citizens are, by definition, institutionalized bigotry. You have the burden of proof, sir, if you believe otherwise. But so far I have yet to hear anyone present a cogent argument otherwise that stands up to the most basic demands of reason and logic. If you believe yourself to be a coherent person capable of rational thought, I urge you to present a coherent opinion, because I'm just dying to understand. It is truly troubling to think that so many people, in a general sense, are just stupid morons who barely even know they are alive. But I ask for proof to the contrary, and I have yet to get it.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Eric Coobs said...

I've been explaining it to you all along, by letting you do all the talking.

Acccording to your views, if 3% of our population thinks being queer is cool, the other 97% of us are either ignorant, or bigots!

11:03 AM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

I'm not sure I was expecting anything more thoughtful than that, but one can always hope. I shouldn't have hoped.
It's hardly surprising that you've misrepresented yet another one of those statistics you're so fond of pulling directly from your ass.
The most scholarly and objective reports place the incidence of homosexuality somewhere between 8 and 15 percent in all populations. Some of the more biased reports place that number as high as 25 percent and claim that number would be more evident if social and religious stigmas were removed.
In addition to the gay population itself, another 30 to 40 percent of the American pulic in 2004 is at least moderately supportive of gay equality. They'll even support the sanctioning of gay unions and their legal recognition if you ask the right questions.
Another roughly 40 to 60 percent of the population doesn't categorically fall into the "ignorant bigot" category, as you suggested I believe.
Many are ignorant. Many are bigots. Many are simply misinformed. Many are fragile and sheltered. Some are mean, some are cordial. And many simply don't think very deeply about anything. Their intellect is inseparable from their beliefs, and when confronted with the possibility that their intellect might discover evidence that forces a change upon their beliefs, they make an unconsious decision to simply not think. Their very thoughts lack articulation. By itself, this condition does not earn the label of "bigot," though that label often applies as well. The condition unto itself might be better classified as "small mindedness," and it is indeed a natural condition of many underdeveloped humans.
Small minds take comfort in groups of similarly small-minded people, finding in their communion the fulfillment they cannot find in harmony with reason.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Eric Coobs said...

Well David, when I see gays openly necking on the park benches in Billings, then you'll have a much better chance of convincing me what a large segment of our community they represent!

6:58 PM  
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