Toward More-Rational Thinking About Marriage and Government


I see that many people who tend to align with the Republican Party, in Rhode Island, and who see themselves as conservatives are using social media to present themselves as more enlightened than those of us who will continue to believe that the Supreme Court usurped the power of the People and, further, that it is entirely Constitutional and rational to maintain the traditional definition of marriage.  I offer the following summation to all of them, but the Facebook page that finally led me to write it was by Luis Vargas, who centers his argument on the principle that “what the government recognizes and what the church recognizes are two different things, and they should remain that way.”

I know it’s very tempting to try to be on the “right side of history” on this issue, but please pause a moment and consider the question more deeply, down to the core logic of it.

1) Religion is ultimately about discerning the will of God and choosing to align one’s self with it.

2) Government, as conceived in the founding of the United States, is about aligning government with the will of the people.

3) Representative democracy in a constitutional and federal republic is about balancing interests and powers so that each person can live under a government that aligns as closely as possible with his or her understanding of the world and government’s role in it.

4) Under no terms should government dictate to people what they must believe, beyond assenting to fundamental rights that allow people to speak their minds, work to change government to better reflect their beliefs, or go elsewhere.  (This, more than the popular rephrasing, captures the intent of the Establishment Clause.)

5) The prohibition in #4 includes a prohibition against organized religions’ being granted power within government to impose their worldviews.


6) People who have freely chosen to align themselves with a particular understanding of the world (including their understanding of the will of God) do not thereby lose their right to work to change their government to better reflect their beliefs.

7) This is not equivalent to a Church’s dictating its beliefs through government.  It is free citizens drawing from religion in order to determine what their government should be, just as they draw from popular culture, family, science, and any other factor that influences one’s beliefs about the world.

8) As a crucial institution in our society, marriage is something that the People must be able to define, including to the extent of government’s recognizing a particular form of relationship as a marriage.

9) It assumes a definition of marriage to insist that it must mean nothing other than a long-term, committed, intimate relationship between adults — i.e., “love.”

10) Throughout human history — as affirmed by the federal government and in most of the states in which residents gave an answer through representative or democratic means, once the traditional meaning was challenged — society has held a different view of what marriage is.

11) That definition reflected the plain fact that men and women living together in intimate relationships tend to create children and therefore held that such men and women should bind themselves in marriage as they would likely bind themselves in the person of a child, with a commitment to raise that child and support each other as individuals and as parents.

12) It so happens that this practical sociological consideration aligns with age-old religious principles reflecting similar purposes and investing them with the additional weight of the spiritual.

13) This definition is not discriminatory in the legal sense of the “invidious discrimination” that is necessary for government intervention under a fair balancing of people’s rights, because men are not women, and women are not men.  People who enter into relationships that do not fit the definition are not “similarly situated.”

14) This definition is also a separate matter from allowing people to form whatever relationships they desire — even calling them whatever they wish.

15) Beginning with a judicial ruling (in Massachusetts) and imposed by judges in the majority of states that recognized same-sex marriage, the government has dictated that citizens of the United States are not free to define the institution of marriage according to their beliefs — religiously inspired or otherwise.

16) Americans are now forbidden from distinguishing, in law, between intimate male-female relationships, as a class, and male-male or female-female relationships, as a class, no matter the reason.  This is precisely an establishment of religion as forbidden in the Bill of Rights.  For the purposes of our government, we are being required to believe the absurd proposition that men and women are not different in any important ways.

17) This is not only an infringement of our rights as a self-governing people; it also removes a powerful institution by which society has encouraged, but not coerced, people to live in a responsible way that most fosters freedom and economic advancement.

18) Those most harmed will not be those whose families and communities that continue to instill such principles (which will tend to have natural advantages for obvious reasons), but those who are most in need of structure and the society’s encouragement.

19) In the absence of that structure and encouragement, we will find government stepping in to make them increasingly dependent and to implement laws to restrain their behavior.

  • By that logic, there would still be racial segregation. Would you support that Justin?

    • Justin Katz

      Some commentators would argue that the profundity and history of racial segregation made it a unique situation requiring a sort of one-time-only suspension of the principles that hold our representative-democratic-constitutional-federalist republic together. I’m not 100% persuaded by that as an argument, but it’s worth considering.

      I’d say that you’re simply incorrect. My explanation allows for intervention when there is, in fact, “invidious discrimination.” Interracial couples are similarly situated to same-race couples because they can perform in all of the same ways.

      • Trying to Help

        So sexual “performance” is how you define what rights individuals are entitled to? You know, when you have to continue to make “one-time-only suspension of the principles” to your personal philosophies, you may want to revisit them.

        • Justin Katz

          Congratulations on embodying the sickness that is destroying our society. There are many layers of ignorance in your comment, but it’s worth highlighting the fact that you reduce the creation of human life and propagation of our species to “sexual performance.”

  • ShannonEntropy

    The best legal argument the dissenters made against making SSM The Law of the Land is that the majority opinion failed to undergird it with Constitutional logic

    Scalia’s dissent was the funniest on this point. Footnote 22
    reads =►

    If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,” I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.

    The majority opinion did however cite Griswold v Connecticut, but did not specifically cite the Constitutional provision that justifies the entire decision. Namely, The IXth Amendment, which Griswold did cite

    That reads =►

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    Now toss in the XIVth Amendment —- which was cited repeatedly in the majority opinion — and you have a solid Constitutional case

    p.s. Roberts’ dissent was the most hypocritical. He agrees with the other two dissenters that the SCOTUS has no business writing The Law. Unless it is “SCOTUS·Care” — as Scalia says we should be calling it

    In that case, Scalia correctly noted in his dissent in King v Burwell 14-114 that …

    Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is
    not established by a State is “established by the State.” It
    is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits
    to state Exchanges than to use the words “established by
    the State.” And it is hard to come up with a reason to
    include the words “by the State” other than the purpose of
    limiting credits to state Exchanges.

    • Justin Katz

      That’s not Constitutional logic; it’s the argle-bargle of throwing a bunch of related concepts into a pot and insisting that it creates a logical conclusion by some sort of legalistic alchemy.
      Read in that way, for one thing, Americans must be disallowed from designing their state governments in a way that makes them substantively different on the role of government and the nature of reality. It all comes down to the federal government, which all comes down to five unelected judges.
      It also smuggles in an assumption about the most-central question, here: If marriage is about the fundamental differences between men and women, then same-sex relationships are not the same, categorically.
      Even if you argue that culture and contraceptives have obviated that definition for some couples, you must contend with the legal matter of who decides whether that has changed the definition of marriage. That cannot fall to judges, particularly (in most cases) in direct contravention of the will of the People.
      Whatever one’s views on the question of marriage, it can no longer be stated that we live in a representative-democratic, constitutional, federal republic. The government is no longer of the People, and it therefore has no moral claim on the allegiance of citizens.

      • ShannonEntropy

        The way I read the IXth Amendment, the SCOTUS can take the side of litigants who want to *expand* Rights vs those who wish to constrict &/or abolish them

        But it cannot *take away / deprive* Rights. So under that principle, the 2nd Amendment is safe — I hope !!

        Meanwhile, I have always asserted that the main reason SSM should not be outlawed is a simple matter of gender discrimination. Andrew can marry Betty but Betty can’t marry Carole purely cuz the latter two are the same gender

        The Equal Rights Amendment may have never been ratified, but the principle that gender discrimination is illegal under both Federal — and by the XIVth’s extension, State — Law is well-established in federal law, and so it clearly reflects the Will of the People. See =►

        Why the majority opinion didn’t cite any of these is a major mystery to me

        • Justin Katz

          I’d make three points:
          1) The court has explicitly taken away Americans’ right to define the terms of what constitutes a marriage, even to the point at which it cannot acknowledge that men and women are different in important ways. That’s not an expansion of rights, it’s a contraction of exactly the sort of rights that the judiciary should be most geared toward defending.
          2) Because the judiciary’s usurpation of power rightfully belonging to the People is central to the problem, offering legal rationale to justify it is of limited use. Your conclusions do not come straight from Constitutional amendments, but by way of progressively more-obnoxious interpretations. So now we’ve reached the point at which the courts have removed our ability to claim to be a representative democracy, but it’s been an incremental coup… so what? It’s still a coup.
          3) Perhaps the majority didn’t make these arguments because they are all now irrelevant. Should that concern you?

          • ShannonEntropy

            My main concern with the decision has to do with how it was arrived at, not the actual conclusion. The fact that as a Libertarian I support SSM is beside the fact

            Instead of citing the Constitution’s 9th &/or existing federal law
            [[ ]]

            … the SCOTUS simply drummed up “the
            mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie”
            — to use Scalia’s memorable phrase

            When a non-legally-trained layman like Yours Truly has a better grasp of Constitutional & federal Law than five SCOTUS justices, THAT is the day to be worried, my friend !!

  • Warrington Faust

    To weigh in on the States Rights issue. The fundamental “right” of a democracy is the right to vote. The Constitution leaves to the states to make a decision on who can vote. Following our Civil War, a great conflict over states rights, there was concern that the Southern states would not permit blacks to vote. To overcome the rights of the states it was thought necessary to amend the constitution. I take this as a defacto recognition of the rights of the states and their citizens and what is necessary to alter that situation. The Bill of Rights states it clearly ” the powers not specifically delegated to the Federal Government are reserved to the states or to the people.” I cannot find any reference to marriage in the “enumerated powers” of the Federal government. Obviously, we are creeping away from our republic.

    I believe there have been referendums on SSM in 14 states, not one has succeeded. Not even California. I think that states the “will of the people” fairly clearly. (I know all of the arguments about “tyranny of the majority” and respect them). With regard to comparisons with miscegenation, I am going to be troglidydic. What race you are born into is not a choice. There being no compelling evidence to the contrary, I regard “gayness” as a choice. So why not legally equal “civil unions” rather than a redefinition of marriage?

    Asides. There is not a single Protestant on the Supreme Court. Can the majority of Americans claim to be unrepresented? Since the SSM decision, I have seen several op-eds that gays can no longer “feel special”. That gave me pause.

    • ShannonEntropy

      Well, The people are certainly free to amend the Constitution again to outlaw SSM

      And contrary to what a lot of people believe, it would *not* be the first time an Amendment restricted rather than expanded the rights of the people — See Amendment XVIII a/k/a Prohibition. Which was entirely repealed just 13 yrs later by the XXIst Amendment

      As for your quoting the Xth Amendment and then noting
      ” I cannot find any reference to marriage in the ‘enumerated powers’ of the Federal government”, try reading the IXth Amendment, which is also part of the Bill of Rights =►

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

      • Warrington Faust

        My position is that it is a denial of states rights. That should require an amendment.

        I am not sure I understand the probative value of your reference to the 9th Amendment.

        There is light at the end of the tunnel, which may not be the Metroliner. It opens the door to late in life marriages to avoid estate taxes. Surely a marriage presently denied by consanguinity cannot stand.

        • ShannonEntropy

          There is light at the end of the tunnel, which may not be the Metroliner

          Yer right … it is prolly a gorilla with a flashlight ☺

          A friend who inherited a whole bunch of property noted that he could have saved a fricken ton on estate taxes had he been allowed to marry his widowed mother before she died

          The answer to that is, if there ever comes a time when there is a cultural sea-change in this country to allow you to marry a relative
          — or your horse for that matter — then the SCOTUS via Constitution’s IXth & XIVth Amendments has the power to grant that Right. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that day tho

          p.s. *that* is the “probative value” of the IXth in this discussion

  • msteven

    This subject reminded me of Justin and this blog, been a while
    …. for me, this is about the ends justifying the means. I am OK with the ‘end’ – as in changing the definition of marriage to allow same-sex. State legislatures passing laws re-defining
    marriage would have been OK with me. But, I see no way how any reasonable person can say that the traditional definition is unconstitutional. Allowing SSM is more a more radical change than
    incest or polygamy. Based on this ruling, I cannot see where laws against incest or polygamy could pass constitutional muster. Of course, the SCOTUS is now a law-making branch of government. It has nothing to do with the judging constitutionality. They are as relevant as the United Nations. The means of this decision is concerning to me and I agree with everything I’ve read on the dissenting opinions.

    I do not know whether a church or specific minister would be able to deny their marriage services based on this ruling. They certainly should be allowed to do so. Many churches deny service on grounds such as not being a member of their congregation – which is their right. I do not see how a government employee would be able to deny granting a license based on their personal beliefs. Their job is defined by law.

    On the subject of dissent, I want to address of couple of Justin’s points. Starting with 15), I think the points go too far. While I disagree with the judicial ruling in Massachusetts, citizens are still free to define marriage according to their own beliefs. Different cultures have different beliefs about marriage, women’s rights, divorce, and many other social matters. I can believe that a 17 yr old marrying an 83 yr old is not a real marriage, but the State cannot deny them a license.

    Also, I think the ‘men and women are different’ argument against SSM is a weak one. The only relevant difference as far as marriage is concerned is biological and I don’t that is a strong argument. Should the government deny a marriage between man and women if man has been emasculated?

    To me, this ruling emboldens the argument about the government not being in the marriage business at all. And ‘marriage’ (and divorce) is a business. But most bothering is that it eliminates States rights and even worse, the idea that the traditional definition of marriage has been declared unconstitutional is absurd from a legal point of view. Bottom line – the judicial robe now functions as a nine-member legislative branch (with no elective recourse) – making decisions based not on Constitutionality, but on the winds of political of social change. How sad.

    • Justin Katz

      As happy as I am to have held you up to point 15 of 19, I still have to respond.
      The entire context of the logical procession has to do with people’s relationship with government, and they are now no longer free to define marriage in traditional terms in that venue. From the perspective of government, traditionalists are exactly as free to define marriage in their terms as homosexuals were free to define marriage in their terms before judges began rewriting our culture. The Supreme Court has picked a side and flipped the culture.
      This will expand. Fifteen years ago, a man and man who considered their relationship a marriage could not call themselves such for purposes of the law. (They could mirror many of the benefits, but then it was contractual or a “civil union,” not explicitly “marriage.”) Now, an employer or service provider who does not consider same-sex relationships to be marriage is all but certain to be forbidden from set policies or take jobs based on that distinction. A photographer who does “weddings” will not be able to define the term for himself. Arguably, the traditionalist of today is less free than the gay couple, then.
      Turning to your gender-specific argument, my opinion is that you smuggle in a whole lot of conclusions with your assumptions. The question is whether men and women are sufficiently different as categories of people that there might be a rational reason to think that relationships between them are different from same-sex relationships and therefore deserving of distinct categorization.
      There are 10 year olds who, even if given the option, would not drink or smoke, or would do so in such minimal degree that no doctor could object. That does not mean that it is illegitimate for the government to set an age for those behaviors that is somewhat higher than that. Closer to the topic at hand, there are children — to give an age, we’ll say 12 — who are sufficiently mature to consent to sex with a 40-year-old, but that does not mean it is illegitimate for us, acting through government, to require an age of consent above that age as a categorical distinction.

      • msteven

        As far as ‘The Supreme Court has picked a side and flipped the culture’ — I’d agree (although we’d probably disagree on the impact on the culture). My point is mainly that it is not the Supreme Court’s role to pick a side.

        I also agree that a photographer who does weddings will have a more difficult time saying no based on their specific views and that is not good. Of course, in a state where SSM is legal, could said photographer made the same choice before this decision? I don’t know the answer. I live in Cleveland where the RNC convention is going to occur. There are certainly vendors who will not want to work with them based on their political views. Is that different?

        Finally, re: the gender-specific argument. I think we are on parallel paths. I never said it was illegitimate or irrational for the government to define marriage as opposite sex. It is reasonable and, as I made clear, falls well within the constitution. But just strictly as an argument against SSM, my point is that the gender-argument is an arbitrary one – just as the selection of age of consent for certain behaviors. There are 16 year old mature enough to consent to sex (or get married). But the law does not permit it. But those ages can be changed. I think our common ground is that we’d both agree that there is not a constitutional right for a minor to engage with an adult for any behavior – and this ruling could be used to say that there is one.

        • Justin Katz

          I’d say the gender question is much less arbitrary than the age one. There is not a single same-sex couple who, in the natural course of their intimacy will create a child, while the majority of lifelong opposite-sex couples will, at some point.
          That’s pretty much the defining characteristic of intimate opposite-sex couples: They can create children, even without the overt intention to do so. (There are other qualities that generally distinguish men from women, but they tend to be more, as you say, arbitrary for public policy purposes.)
          So stark is this quality of opposite-sex couples that it changes the very nature of marriage to open it up. It ceases to be, in any sense at all, about the thing that only men and women can do together. That means it will be less useful as a means of gently encouraging people toward a healthy and desirable lifestyle choice.
          (That doesn’t mean monogamous marriage wouldn’t be healthy and desirable for opposite-sex couples, but the benefits of mutual care, and so on, are of a different order than creating and raising generations of our species.)

          • msteven

            We’ve been here before. The procreation argument. It just doesn’t hold up for me. Yes, opposite sex couples are ‘designed’ to have sex and create children. But that doesn’t mean procreation is the defining characteristic of marriage. Following your logic thru, there is no reason for couples who cannot (via age/health) or choice to get married. That there is no difference between a same-sex couple and a 65-yr old opposite sex couple in terms of being married. We disagree that SSM changes the ‘nature’ of marriage. I do agree that it changes the definition of it. And I feel there are reasonable arguments on both sides – why the definition should be changed and why it should not. As I’m typing, I’m finding it more amazing that what we are debating was part of the equation in the case. And the truth is – it is irrelevant to the case that was in front of the court about the constitutionality of a state defining marriage as opposite-sex.

          • Justin Katz

            Clearly, we’re at an impasse. We’re looking at the same thing — a categorical difference between one coupling and another — and one of us thinks it’s a distinction worth preserving in culture and law, and the other doesn’t.
            At this point, though, agreement that the electorate should have a right to make such decisions puts us more on the same side than different ones.
            The only additional point I’d make right now is to clarify that my argument isn’t so much that procreation IS the defining characteristic of marriage as that it SHOULD BE. Twenty years ago, it definitely was. Ten years ago, it still was, for most, but advocates were trying to make a different case. Now, the Supreme Court has made it essentially impossible for the country to go back, even if traditionalists persuade large majorities of the benefits to that particular public policy.
            As Gandalf said to Frodo in the first Lord of the Rings movie (can’t remember if it’s in the book): we don’t get to choose whether things go wrong in our times; we only get to choose how we respond. The important questions, now, are how we minimize the expansion of this particular change to others (including the forthcoming suppression, even persecution, of traditionalists) and how we help those most harmed (in my assessment) by the elimination of foundational institution of our society — namely, those disadvantaged by economics and culture.

          • ShannonEntropy

            What really mystifies me is business owners who want the ‘Right’ to deny certain people access to their goods // services

            Even if I was 1,000% opposed to SSM, if I owned a pizza parlor and you wanted me to cater your gay wedding, I would make you the gay·est pizza & wedding reception you ever saw

            As long as your money is green, you can wave your rainbow flag all day as far as I care

          • Justin Katz

            I suspect the vast majority of business owners would agree with your response to a request for catering. The question is whether those who disagree should be forced to get with the program. It’s not as if such services are difficult to procure.
            This is part of what it means to be free in a self-governing republic. The government should not be some all-reaching overseer of all of our personal interactions. We need to tolerate people who disagree with us. If that means I have to go a little farther to find a bookstore because the little communist one on the corner (completely making this up, by the way) refuses to stock or order Christian literature, then that’s what it means. If it means the gay couple has to move on to one of the other score of wedding photographers in the area because the first one called doesn’t do gay weddings, that’s America.
            Or it was. The United States America is no more. Now we’re something more like the United States of Social Acceptance.

          • ShannonEntropy

            It boils down to what exactly is a “public accommodation”

            If you own a McDonald’s, you can’t refuse to serve someone a Big Mac just cuz you don’t like their race or gender or whatever

            But a pizza shop or photographer can just more gently let folks down they don’t want to serve by simply saying they are booked up that day in the future

            WARNING =► sending away business is the fastest way to end up bankrupt … word gets around fast

            Bet they didn’t teach you *that* in Harvard Business School !!

        • ShannonEntropy

          There are 16 year old mature enough to consent to sex (or get married). But the law does not permit it.

          Aren’t you from Cleveland ?? (( I was born there BTW, in the old St Ann’s Hospital ))

          The Age of Consent in both Ohio and Li’l Rhody is 16 yrs … which is really good news for us ephebophiles

  • Warrington Faust

    Since the 2nd Amendment speaks with great clarity, why isn’t the government compelled to issue firearms licenses? In fact, why is any license required at all? Marriage licenses aren’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but now they are a “right”. I mention this to show how “emotional thinking” effects legal decisions. Why is a driver’s license good in any state, but gun licenses are not? If you eliminate suicides, “car deaths” far outnumber “gun deaths”. A little “uniformity of opinion” on licenses please. Reminds me of the guy who ran the ice cream stand when I was a kid. He tried to shoot himself and missed, leaving him with a crease in his forehead. What kind of an example was that for kids? Why didn’t they pull his ice cream license? BTW, he was gay and made outrageous gifts to the boys who worked there, we wondered about that too.

    • ShannonEntropy

      I really love your posts, Warrington … but this one takes the cake — altho not nearly as funny as the pic you posted recently of a black chick serving coffee to a Confederate Soldier Civil War re-enactor

      No Constitutional Right is absolute … which explains why the gum·mint can require concealed-carry and marriage licenses

      I keep looking in hopes of finding the expiration date on my own marriage license — issued in 1988 — but No Luck
      so far

      [[ Just kidding ,, Dear !! ]]

      • Warrington Faust

        The picture of the woman with Capt. Pendleton was not intended as humor. To simplify her philosophy, I think she believes simply that “this is the only world I have to live in” and proposes to make the best of her time here. She is approximately 50 in that picture and, being from “Cotton Country”, she can recall being escorted to school by the National Guard. She is from the Deep South and recalls the first time she was called a nigger. She was 22 and at college in the “City of Brotherly Love”. As she stood on a street corner a car full of white teenagers drove by and jeered her. She has “no attitude” and volunteers as a docent at an ante-bellum plantation. I recall that once we pulled over to the side on WIckenden Street, we were looking for an Italian restaurant I recalled that was on a second floor. A police officer came over to “check us out”. There being no obvious reason for it, we determined that he assumed she was a street walker.

        She recalls “discrimination” as a kid, but not what she calls the “dehumanization” of Northern inner cities. I am reading a book about the German P.O.W. camp in the town where she grew up. Newspapers are quoted in the book. News coverage of blacks is slight, but respectful (it is the South, courtesy matters) Apparently there was friction because the German prisoners were allowed to sit in the first floor of the local movie theater and blacks were not. The blacks had sons serving in the European theater. Relatives tell me the same was true in Providence at the time. Movie balconies here were known as “n-gger heaven”. Should we tear up the Rhode Island flag?

        Agreed that no Constitutional right is “absolute”, but have you ever heard of a “free speech license”. Every American is born with one.

      • Warrington Faust

        I really love your posts, Warrington … but this one takes the cake –

        I assume you are referring to the gay ice cream stand operator. I admit having been what would now be known as a “free range child”. Everyone in town knew he was gay, and kept their distance. We just couldn’t resist a bike ride for an ice cream. I assume our parents knew. The bicycle repair guy was gay too, he was a little more trouble. My friend Keith had to stab him in the hand with a screwdriver. We found a town drunk dead in our swimming hole. We stayed up late, sneaked out, and threw firecrackers at cops “parking” in cruisers with their girlfriends. As Cub Scouts “camping out” a den mother tried to kiss a friend and I “good night”. We resisted, were we sexually abused? At 12 & 13 we would camp out on our property and build bonfires 10 feet tall, no one called the cops on us. Sneaking to the black part of town to watch the “Holy Rollers”, there was a fear of being caught, but not death or dismemberment. “Target practice” was trying to shoot out street lights with BB guns. We stopped on a bike ride at a gas station for a coke and couldn’t get them out of the old water cooled machine. The owner tried and failed, frustrated he came out with his GI .45 and blasted a few holes in it. The meat cutter at the only supermarket had a Corvette and a “way” with married women. “Handy Andy” lived in a shack which might have been on our property. He made a living wheelbarrowing trash to the town dump for others, nobody bothered him. There was an English guy, Mr. Watson; he lived in a shack somewhere too. Don’t know much about him. Then I got sent away to school. “Thumbing” home from prep school, I made the mistake of holding on to a cold sign post. Running to catch a car I left my palm on the post. The driver was gay and angry, he yelled at me for 20 miles. In the public school, teachers came out to the parking lot to admire my friends’ shotguns. The town was beset by a mysterious “flasher”, he turned out to be a cop. Slightly older, we would race beat up old sports cars on back roads on summer nights, without lights. That was to disguise the fact the cars weren’t registered and didn’t have plates. The father of a friend banged up his Ferrari. He got the metal straightened but couldn’t get a windshield. He had the wipers welded straight up so it looked like it had a windshield and drove it. Isn’t this just growing up in a small town? Did Stephen King write my life? Trouble with growing up in a small town is that you don’t use directional lights, you figure everyone knows where you are going. Being “free range” wasn’t dangerous, people knew you “Hey you, you’re the Faust kid aren’t you? I’ll tell your parents”

        • ShannonEntropy

          Those were the days … Free Range Kids we were !!

          Mrs S_E & Yours Truly just got back from visiting our 7 month old grand·baby

          She was 5-point strapped into a high chair and when I asked “where’s her helmet ??” … my daughter thought I was serious

          Not every “advance” is an improvement,
          I think we would both agree

    • msteven

      I agree – to an extent. I’m just saying there are some reasonable
      arguments towards legalizing SSM. Also, not sure if I agree that procreation WAS or SHOULD BE the defining characteristic of marriage. I believe this is about social acceptance and even further legal acknowledgment. Homosexuality has become much more publicly accepted and they are asking for the same legal
      acknowledgment as opposite-sex couple who can/do not have biological children. And we certainly don’t agree that SSM is the elimination of foundational institution of our society.

      But we likely agree that legal acknowledgement IS NOT a constitutional right. Warrington put it well – as always – in his analogy to gun licenses. The sad irony is this is not a two-way street. For example, we are heading towards banning the Confederate flag because it offends people. But burning the American flag is protected freedom of speech (as it should be). The issue is not about protecting all people, just people with certain views. In you bookstore example, our legal system would probably allow a Communist store to not serve Christians but it would be unconstitutional for a Christian bookstore to make any choices on what books it sells.

      • Warrington faust

        “Homosexuality has become much more publicly accepted”

        Well, here I go, speaking the unspeakable again. 50 odd years ago, “science” regard homosexuality as a “treatable” disease. Now science has reversed itself and is avidly, but unsuccessfully, seeking a “gay” gene. I am wondering if that science is like the “science” of climate change. The majority agrees, so it must be so. I note the number of gay writers now uncomplaining that gays are no longer “special”. I wonder how many simply sought to be outre? I have noticed that except for celebrities, seeking more celebrity, most lesbian couples are not very attractive. Perhaps they have been unsuccessful in finding mates of the opposite sex? This does not seem true of men, women tell me that they have keep their “gaydar” up.I fear that I still regard gayness as a choice,.perhaps well thought out, perhaps not. Certainly “bi-sexuals” make choices. Still, if they wish to “bond” permanently I don’t know why “civil unions” would not suffice, leaving “marriage” to mean what it has always meant. When we invented the airplane, we didn’t insist that it was another type of bird because it had wings.

        The fly in my ointment is “freedom of religion” One can select the religion which you choose to be free in.

        • msteven

          Homosexuality as a ‘treatable” disease. Comparing it to climate change. Few deny climate change exists but there is wide disagreement on who is
          responsible and what can be done about it. How does that compare to homosexuality? I’ve heard that homosexuality is like pedophilia. That may be
          true – with the big distinction that pedophilia directly harms people against their will.

          I’m sure there are gay writers opposed to social acceptance because they lose their ‘special’ status. But I think that is the minority. I suspect there are conservative writers whose beliefs you do not share. There certainly are ones I disagree with – but that doesn’t make me not a conservative.

          Your view on civil unions is reasonable but clearly it was “marriage or bust” for those not in the ‘no longer special’ crowd.

          The analogy to airplane wings is non-sensical – being an airplane isn’t alive and birds are. But maybe that’s how you see gays vs. straight.

          Finally, I don’t know whether this will infringe on freedom of religion as so far as Pastors will be required to marry gays. I would not agree with that. But SSM infringes on one’s religion just as events such as living together, out-of-wedlock birth, divorce, even not being a virgin are against
          certain religions but they are still ‘allowed’ (and even legally acknowledged in some cases) in our country. Just because you don’t approve of it – for any ethical, religious belief – does not means its legality infringes on one’s religious belief.

          • Warrington Faust

            Sorry, trouble again constraining the impetuosity of my thoughts. Instead of short handing climate change science, I should have said the science behind climate change being man made. Birds, Planes, one is alive, the other is not. True but their unifying factor is that they both fly nevertheless. Were early robots not known as “mechanical men”?Pedophilia! Can’t say I approve of it, but is the science today that regards it as incurable any “better” than the science of 50 years ago that considered homosexuality a disease? In that 50 years, we have lost Freud and any number of “therapies”. Have you tried any “gestalt therapy” lately? How about a little “primal scream”? The definition also shifts, it was not eons ago that 13 was considered a marriageable age, now the “age of consent” is 16-18, varying with the state.(if the voting age can be uniform, why not the age of consent) I note that female pedophiliac school teachers are now rarely charged with rape, something more like “sexual assault and battery”. That is a recent change. I believe the men are still being charged with rape. I taught for a very short time and found the 16-17 year old girls very aggressive.

            I wasn’t clear about “freedom of religion”. My point was that unlike race, or gender, religion IS a matter of choice, but is still protected. Unless you are a Mormon. Some might point to Waco. Voo Doo practitioners aren’t very popular either. Thugees were exterminated. Exorcists seem to be in a little trouble too. Where are the Valkyries and the Furies when we really need them? Religion is why I keep my ancient ’64 Plymouth Fury convertible “God, in his Fury, drove Adam and Eve from the garden”.

          • msteven

            Not clear about what you are trying to say in some cases. Are you trying to say that homosexuals and heterosexuals are nothing alike except they both breathe? As much as therapies have gone over the top and now we consider ADHD or addiction a disease, I think that in the case of homosexuality, they are correct. It is not a disease any more than being left-handed or athletically gifted.

            I agree that definitions do shift. Just as the age of consent example you gave. I think some shifts have been positive and some negative. Not sure where you are going with female pedophiliac rarely charged with rape.

            Yes, religion IS a choice. And there is freedom of religion in this country. And that freedom is protected. But we don’t agree on how that manifests in practice. Because some religious people (not all) are against SSM, this invades their freedom of religion? Why is this different than divorce, death penalty, abortion and others?

            But I do agree with you and Justin that there is an affront to the religious particularly Christian.

          • Warrington Faust

            “I think that in the case of homosexuality, they are correct. It is not a disease any more than being left-handed or athletically gifted.”

            Not saying it is a disease, I think it is a choice. As such, I am not sure how much protection, or “equality” it requires. The “politics” of “homophobic” annoys me. It indicates fear, why not “homo averse”.

            “Not sure where you are going with female pedophiliac rarely charged with rape.”

            Seems like clear gender inequality to me. I assume penalties differ. Pedophile females “sexually batter” willing 16 year old boys. Pedophile males “rape” willing 16 year old girls. I have not chased it down, “sexual battery” may indicate the sex was oral. Listening to the Howie Carr show, a few years back. I was amazed at the number of guys who called in to say their first experience was with a teacher. I understood.

          • Warrington Faust

            Yes, religion IS a choice.And that freedom is protected.

            My point was that of the “freedoms” protected by the text of the Constitution only religion is a choice. It is a fly in my ointment because otherwise I could say that none of the freedom’s textually demonstrable are a matter of choice. My argument being that if gayness is a choice,it deserves only very limited “equality” or protection. Let’s say protection from “hate crimes”, if you believe in the theory of “hate crimes”. Would anyone argue that if someone pierces his face with nuts and bolts he might disqualify himself from a job entering old peoples homes. Would they argue that such a choice requires protection?

          • Justin Katz

            Is religion a “choice,” though, in a way that ought to indicate that it would not be a right unless explicitly mentioned in the Bill of Rights?

            I don’t know how I came to be so fervent a believer in Christianity as held by the Roman Catholic Church. There’s certainly an element of my natural leanings (e.g., the availability of long-standing, coherent intellectual engagement). There are probably things from my upbringing that point me in the direction of the Church (though it was non-religious). Then there are also life experiences (e.g., marrying a Catholic), but I wonder if those don’t have more to do with the rate at which I converted. And of course, continued practice has affirmed my belief.

            I believe Catholicism, in its core tenets, to be absolutely correct about the nature of reality. I couldn’t simply convert to another faith, or return to having none at all, because that would be participating in a lie about myself and the universe.

          • ShannonEntropy

            I believe Catholicism, in its core tenets, to be absolutely correct about the nature of reality.

            Man have I got the right club for *you* to join !! =►


          • ShannonEntropy

            … in fact, tell ya what …

            If you would like I will buy you a yrs subscription. Send it to your 02871 POB ??

          • msteven

            I actually don’t believe the ‘attraction’ is a choice but the behavior is. (just as heterosexual and sexual activity) I agree that the term homophobic is annoying and hypocritical. The most extreme and vile people who want to kill homosexuals are simply prejudiced. I also don’t get the point of the ‘phobic’ suffix.

            There is gender inequality. (i.e.: reaction to
            Hope Solo vs. Ray Rice) There is race inequality. (reaction to police actions/Ferguson-OJ), And most significant of all to me, there is political affiliation inequality. (‘D’ could spit in face and response would be why did person get in way of spit).

            I don’t agree with the theory of hate crimes. But if it exists, it should be equal. And it is not. A prejudiced Islamist murdering a Christian would never be charged with a hate crime. But I don’t really see how this relates to SSM.

            Justin – I believe thatmost if not all our ‘choices’ are influenced by external factors, life experiences of which many are out of our control. But there is still free will and there are things that are immutable. Religious faith is a choice. Though
            some choices are more of an uphill climb than others.

          • Justin Katz

            I’m not saying my religious faith deserves any special treatment because it is or isn’t a choice; I’m challenging the premise that choice matters when it comes to defining and weighing our rights. To simplify, the construction that’s en vogue these days would be something like: “He can’t change his orientation, but you can change your religious beliefs, so his orientation wins.”
            These long conversations get to a lot of interesting points, but it’s worth bringing it back, from time to time, to the basic problem: We’re not exactly living in an era in which rational debate is privileged. We’re living in an era in which emotional rhetoric lunges forward to conclusions that people have reached because it’s what they’ve been told good people believe. It seems harder and harder to get disagreements down to the point at which the parties simply cannot agree.
            The choice thing is of a piece with all progressive argumentation. The same people who dispute the notion that there is objective Truth will behave as if it’s simply true that there is no valid argument against their own Truths. It’s all conditional.
            I’m rambling a bit, but the point is this: The argument from choice has become just another area in which those holding a specific worldview proclaim a divine superiority to those with a different one. If it were the debate over where to have dinner, they act as if they are choosing based on a food allergy while the other person is obsessing on the color of the restaurant’s tablecloths.

          • msteven

            Very well said. My only response would be to “He can’t change his orientation, but you can change your religious beliefs, so his orientation wins.”” – I think it is more like – “He can do what he wants and no laws can be made that limit what he wants irregardless of your religious beliefs (constitutionally speaking, and only for certain religions)”. It’s couldn’t be clearer in the constitution.

          • Justin Katz

            Well, not really. The Constitution clearly limits that proscription to the federal government. It took a century-plus of judicial tinkering to make the 14th Amendment say as much.
            And here we’re back to a fundamental point on which I can never tell if you and I agree or disagree. Even accepting the interpretation of the 14th Amendment, your restatement goes too far. What marriage IS in our laws (i.e., whether your concept is the shared one or mine is) is not something that “he” can do without conflicting with what “I” can do, based on my religion. That’s why I went to the next logical step and made it a choice between the two.

          • msteven

            I should have bene clearer and added more sarcasm after my last line. I think we do agree on your fundamental point. My point is the ruling that laws defining marriage as man/woman are unconstitutional is .. mind blowing. But we do (as have for a long time :)) disagreed on some of the mertis of changing the definition of marriage to accomondate same-sex couples.

          • ShannonEntropy

            Religion is why I keep my ancient ’64 Plymouth Fury convertible “God, in his Fury, drove Adam and Eve from the garden”.

            Well that gets MY Vote for the oceanstatecurrent Line of the Year Award !!