Instant Ethics Train Wreck: The Alabama Gay Marriage Stand-off

What does Dred Scott have to do with the Alabama gay marriage mess? Absolutely nothing.

What does Dred Scott have to do with the Alabama gay marriage mess? Absolutely nothing.

This summer, the Supreme Court will again take up the issue of the Constitutionality of state gay marriage bans, having left the question open (why, I don’t know) after striking down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. Since that ruling, the states have been busy little bees, some passing laws banning same-sex marriage, some doing the opposite, then fighting out multiple appeals at various levels of the judicial system. Three things are certain: the cultural and legal acceptance of same-sex marriage looks unstoppable; all states need to agree on what a legal marriage is; and some faith-based same-sex marriage opponents will not give in until the last dog dies.

Beginning at the end of last week, a messy situation in Alabama involving all of these factors burst into a full-fledged ethics train wreck. The links in this post will let you immerse yourself in the mess if you choose: I’m going to try to be clear. Here is what has transpired so far:

1) A federal judge, District Court Judge Callie V. Granade,  struck down the state’s ban  on same-sex marriages in January and said that Alabama could start issuing licenses last week unless the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and stayed her order. A stay was immediately requested by the Alabama Attorney General, who properly defended the state’s law.

2.) The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to step in and stop her order from going into effect.

3) The U.S. Supreme Court also refused the stay request, allowing marriages to proceed in Alabama.

4) Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, reminded everyone that probate judges report to him, not the federal judge and not the Attorney General, and do not have to issue marriage licenses to gay couples until he tells them to. He told them not to.

5) Some Alabama probate judges followed Moore, and some went ahead and issued the licenses. Mass confusion reigned.

6) Meanwhile, the refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay pending its ruling on state same-sex marriage laws later this year was widely interpreted as tantamount to SCOTUS deciding the case before it was even argued.

7) Justice Clarence Thomas, in a dissent from the  majority’s rejection of the stay (we don’t know what the vote break was), argued that “This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question. This is not the proper way to discharge our . . . responsibilities.”

8) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, meanwhile, appeared to endorse gay marriage in an interview.

9) Attempting to break the impasse, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade ordered Mobile County, Alabama to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, paving the way for resistant officials across the state to follow suit, in a decision stating that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage had been struck down and that ­Mobile County’s probate judge had to adhere to that decision.

10) Chief Justice Moore remains unmoved, but now most of the probate judges are following the federal order.

Got that?

Good, now you can explain it to me.

What a mess.

Here are the ethics verdicts on the participants so far:

1. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. As neatly pointed out by New York Times legal reporter Emily Bazelon, Judge Moore has the Alabama Constitution and due process on his side:

“Roy Moore is right …Granade’s order doesn’t require state probate judges all over Alabama — who weren’t named in the case Granade heard — to issue marriage licenses. Granade merely instructed Alabama’s attorney general not to enforce the state’s same-sex-marriage ban. That means a probate judge could go along with her decision, as some have, (and as clerks of the court did in Florida, after a similar district-court decision there went into effect in January). But they don’t necessarily have to.”

Of course, nothing stops Moore from properly using his authority to allow the licenses to be issued, avoiding the train wreck. But that’s not how Moore rolls. In 2003, Alabama’s Court of the Judiciary removed then-Chief Justice Moore from his post because he refused to obey a federal court order requiring his removal of a statue of the Ten Commandments from the State Judicial Building. The voters of Alabama promptly elected him again. Once again, as he has made clear, a bias in favor of religious doctrine is guiding his decisions, making his conduct an example of an arguably ethical act (making a principled stand in favor of following process) being done for unethical reasons. A judge, as an agent of the state, should not impose his religious beliefs on others.

His actions in support of his stand are clearly a violation of judicial ethics, as the ethics complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center correctly asserts. Judges are prohibited by their ethics rules, in Alabama and elsewhere. The Alabama Canons state,  “A judge should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court . . . .” Moore has been all over the media, including a long and contentious debate on CNN with Chris Cuomo.

Verdict: Unethical.

2. The News Media. With the notable exception of Bazelon, the media reporting on this episode has been biased and slanted, as virtually all mainstream media coverage of the gay marriage issue has been for at least a decade. (Pssst! They’re for it!) It doesn’t help, admittedly, that Moore is a certifiable, off-the-charts fanatic, but never mind: the public should be informed. For example,  Mediaite writes about “…Moore’s order that Alabama probate judges ignore the Supreme Court and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.” Incompetent and wrong. The Supreme Court did not order Alabama judges to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. It refused to stay the order by a district court judge who probably didn’t have authority to to force probate judges to do so. The distinction is important, but to the media, pro-gay marriage good, not pro-gay marriage bad, and anyway, who cares about this due process stuff? Just like President Obama…

Into the breach charged CNN’s resident know-it-all, Chris Cuomo. You know, if you are going to debate someone like Judge Moore, who is obsessed but not stupid, you had better do your homework. Cuomo, like so many newsroom “stars,’ thinks he can prevail on charisma, passion and being “right” alone, without a shred of legal knowledge or ethics acumen. He debated Moore for 25 minutes, and accomplished nothing other than making it clear to his fans that he was a gay marriage supporter. Here are some examples:


CUOMO: First, this appeal for a stay went all the way to the Supreme Court. The stay was denied. That is the Supreme Court saying follow the district court order which is what is telling your state to allow the marriages. And as you know, the history of your state very well, better than I, district courts are often the tool for change, let’s say with segregation. If your state hadn’t followed those district court orders, you may still be in a different position legally. Your response?

MOORE: Well, what you’re saying is the injunction was not lifted, it remains in effect, and that injunction applied only to the attorney general of the state, no to the probate courts of Alabama. Indeed, that’s the difficulty in this camp by the federal court to control the state of Alabama and its federal intrusion into state sovereignty. Even she admitted after that fact that she had no right, no power, no authority to intrude into the probate court of Mobile County and Probate Court Judge John Davis. 

Moore was right. Cuomo was wrong.


CUOMO: The definition of marriage was agreed 81-19 in your state in the passing of the constitutional amendment. Times have changed, as they did with slavery, and the population no longer feels the same way. And even in your state people no longer feel the same way. You are clinging to a definition that you believe is divine. You said it in your letter to the governor.


CUOMO: But you know that divine basis —

MOORE: No, you’re incorrect….Eighty-one percent as recently as 2006 said it was the definition. They haven’t changed their opinion. The only thing that’s changed is one federal judge has come in and tried to force upon this state something which she cannot do. Her opinion is not law and that should be made very clear. The law, according to the United States Supreme Court and the federal district courts is an opinion of a federal judge cannot — cannot mandate to state courts how they should judge under the law. That’s the law in every state. It’s the law in the United States. Justice Thomas said that in 1996.

CUOMO: But it’s happened many times and the Supreme Court had an opportunity to stay this district court’s opinion, which they very well could have done, and they did not, reinforcing the effect of that.

MOORE: Staying opinions — staying a temporary injunction, which applied only to the Attorney General, is not a ruling on the law, sir. Very clearly.

Again, Cuomo is wrong, and Moore is correct. Indeed, Cuomo is ridiculous: he is  arguing that a poll showing that attitudes toward same-sex marriage in the state has or should have a bearing on the enforcement of the law. Meanwhile, district court judges can’t dictate Alabama law.


CUOMO: But it’s about discrimination. In 2006, you created a constitutional amendment that, by design, discriminated against gay people. And now you are being told by the federal law that is wrong.

MOORE: Again — again — again, that is a constitutional amendment to the Alabama constitution, and it’s clearly within the bounds of state law and federal law. Again, there is nothing in the constitution about marriage. How can judges go in and define a word? They’re doing exactly what they did in 1857 in Dred Scott.-

CUOMO: They just did it in U.S. v. Windsor. They just looked at the Defense of Marriage Act and said you cannot define marriage as just between a man and woman.

MOORE: That was between Congress. It did not affect the state, according to the ruling in Windsor.

Cuomo walked right into that one, and there’s no excuse for it. The Court in that case specifically said that it did NOT apply to the states.


MOORE: Chris, let me ask you something — let me ask you this, Chris….Would you follow the — would you have followed the order in Dred Scott saying that black people were property? Or would you have followed the order in Plessy versus Ferguson that says separate but equal was the policy of the United States? Can you answer that please?

CUOMO: Your job as Chief Justice is to administer the law.

MOORE: You didn’t answer the law. You didn’t answer it, Chris.

CUOMO: I am not the Chief Justice of Alabama. It’s not my place to answer.

MOORE: Well, I’m asking you if you were the Chief Justice of Alabama, would you follow Plessy versus Ferguson and Dred Scott when they were issued. Yes or no?

CUOMO: You follow the law of the land. That is what our nation is based on.

MOORE: You can’t answer it, can you, Chris?

CUOMO: Here’s why. You cannot duck your responsibilities by putting them on me, Your Honor. They didn’t elect me to be Chief Justice.

Translation: Cuomo: Duhhhh….

The bogus Dred Scott question has been a favorite among the anti-gay marriage crowd of late. It is designed to place defenders of gay marriage in a bind by the use of a terrible analogy. Again, Moore is right that Dred Scott was constitutionally indefensible (especially given the clear meaning of the language in the Declaration of Independence), but he’s absurdly wrong that the right to marry and the states’ rights to define marriage in such a way that it precludes participation by some citizens is an analogous issue. Moreover, the very question is an exercise in time travel, hindsight bias, and “presentism.” I’d be willing to bet that Alabaman Moore, were he a judge in 1857, would have been applauding the Dred Scott decision, not resisting it. Would Cuomo–or Moore— defy the Dred Scott decision today?  Well, sure, especially since it now also violates the 13th Amendment, would put the President up for auction, and Dred Scott has been dead since 1858.

How could Cuomo not have seen this question coming, and had a competent reply ready? Here’s one:

“As Chief Justice, my options would be to uphold the law as defined by the Supreme Court and advocated changing it, to resign because I could not in good conscience continue to enforce a law I felt was unjust and unconstitutional, or engage in civil disobedience, defy the law, and risk going to jail. If the case involved treating human beings as chattel, I would probably choose the third option. But allowing same sex couples the right to form legally recognized, socially sanctioned bonds of love and commitment without being denigrated or held apart from the rest of society is a societal good, not an evil like slavery, so your comparison is inapt.”

Verdict: The news media has been largely incompetent, lazy and biased.

As usual.

3. The Supreme Court. Justice Thomas, and Scalia, who joined his dissent, are right. The Court should not essentially  its ruling before the case has been argued, no matter how much of a foregone conclusion it may be (and to be fair, it’s been hard to see how SCOTUS would not strike down the anti-gay marriage laws since the DOMA decision.) The ethical argument on the other side is: “Let’s be realistic. We know how this will come out: why hang all these poor couples out for another 120 days or more when we know they’re going to be able to marry anyway?” That’s unprofessional, and the Supreme Court has to be better than that. If, however, the Court refused the stay and there is any appreciable chance that gay marriage will not be upheld, the decision is cruel and irresponsible.

Verdict: Any way you look at it, this was unethical.

4. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The 81-year old Justice has obviously entered the “what the hell, I can do and say what I want” stage in her career, most recently highlighted by her admission that she was smashed during the State of the Union. In an interview with Bloomberg, she signaled her support for gay marriage, saying,

“The change in people’s attitudes on that issue has been enormous. In recent years, people have said, ‘This is the way I am.’ And others looked around, and we discovered it’s our next-door neighbor — we’re very fond of them. Or it’s our child’s best friend, or even our child. I think that as more and more people came out and said that ‘this is who I am,’ the rest of us recognized that they are one of us.”

If she were an Alabama judge, she would be as guilty of an ethics violation as Moore is. True, the Supreme Court has no ethics code, but that doesn’t make unethical conduct any less so. Other Justices, notably Scalia, have done this in the past. It’s unethical to comment on a pending case, and for Supreme Court Justice to do it is the most unethical of all. While she was at it (“Oh, what the hell…”), Ginsberg also let us know that she will be voting for the Affordable Care Act when that case comes up, saying of her pal, the President:

“Our country was just about the only Western industrialized country that didn’t have universal health care for all of the people, and he made the first giant step in that direction. That’s certainly one of the things he will be remembered for.”

Because we all know that what the other Western industrialized countries do and believe must be best.

Verdict: Unethical.


Sources: Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama.comCNN, Washington Post 1, 2, 3, 4 Mediaite, New York Times



54 thoughts on “Instant Ethics Train Wreck: The Alabama Gay Marriage Stand-off

  1. The entire gay marriage issue will become tainted, mostly because opponents of same-sex marriage now have reasonable doubt that they got a fair hearing. They’re gonna resist – and resist for a long time. There’s a price for making the other side feel cheated, and the bill will come due.

    You wrote about Vaughn Walker: ““By any means necessary.” The ends justify the means. That’s a hell of a way for a democracy that supposedly was built on the rule of law and due process to render social change.

    “We are going to have legal same-sex marriage, in California and the rest of the country, sooner or later. That will be a positive development. The troubling question is whether the judicial system will have any perceived integrity left by the time it happens. It will not, if those who are charged with identifying and criticizing professional conduct that jeopardizes public trust in our courts allow their political and social beliefs to warp their own independent judgment.”

    Enjoy your so-called “positive development,” Jack. Just remember, it came about via a fair bit of cheating. Not to mention bullying (see Elane Photography, the Kleins, Brendan Eich, Carrie Prejean, the Benham brothers, and a host of others), thought control, and lying (see Obama, for one).

    I, for one, think the issue will become more like abortion… the battle will have only begun. You can forget about any gay rights legislation passing in the states where same-sex marriage was imposed by court order (note: if it had public support, proponents would not have NEEDED the courts). You can also bet that the filibuster will come out of the toolbox to block further gay rights legislation in the United States Senate as well.

    There will be a price to pay for the methods used to cram same-sex marriage down the throats of the 30+ states that voted against it. Then again… when the LGBT community wasn’t getting their way with the democratic process, they used the courts to cram their agenda down people’s throats. What’s to say that won’t happen again?

    • 1. I wouldn’t call signalling a result that anyone paying attention has seen coming for at least 5 years “cheating.” It doesn’t affect the final result. At worst it’s the appearance of impropriety, and I agree it’s unethical.

      2. Abortion has a substantive, scientifically based, legally and ethically significant basis for controversy. This doesn’t. Anti-abortion advocates are paying due attention to preserving a right they believe should exist for the unborn—life, while anti-gay marriage advocates are doing the opposite, trying to withhold a right from law-abiding citizens.

      3. It’s a loser. The only question is how many innocent people the fight will harm, and how much credibility, influence and power gay marriage opponents will lose regarding substantive matters where they have something beneficial, rather than destructive, to contribute. All to stop couples they don’t know do something that won’t have any impact on the opponents at all. Madness.

      4. Once the Supreme Court confirms that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry—and they do, by the way—that’s the end. State plots to discriminate will look as ugly and mean-spirited as they are, and the tide against people like Moore will be overwhelming.

      5. Abortion is different, 1) because the absolute pro-abortion arguments are hypocritical, bootstrapped and flawed, 2) because living human beings are dying in the millions. That tension has allowed anti-abortion sentiment to grow since Roe. Nothing remotely similar can occur regarding gay marriage.

      6. There is no similar set of factors regarding gay marriage, just imaginary ones. If a credible longitudinal study comes out tracing the destruction of civilization due to an increase in legally married same sex couples, and it is proven that SMP is correct and gay couples are secretly child-corrupting monsters bent on the conversion of humankind to a non-procreating, doomed nest of perversion, well yes, in that case, the anti-gay marriage sentiment might rise.
      And if I sprout wings, I may fly to Omaha.

      7. Frankly, I find the ugly stubbornness of the opposition to gay marriage embarrassing. I’m embarrassed for the lame, lame arguments being put forward seriously; I’m embarrassed that a nation founded with Thomas Jefferson’s words can even be having such a debate in 2015; I’m embarrassed that irrational bigotry based on archaic ignorance can be so ingrained that smart people still are prey to it; I’m embarrassed at the slurs and insults being used to describe loving people who just want what any heterosexual couples take for granted; I’m embarrassed that pompous fools like Roy Moore can still be elected to high office in the US; I’m embarrassed that in this day and age anyone seriously resorts to the Bible as authority for public policy; and most of all, I am embarrassed that the many, many gay people I know, socialize with, care about, do business with, collaborate with and create with have to go though life putting up with such irrational, hurtful, cruelty.

      The courts correctly step in when the government, and voters, ignore the bedrock values the nation was founded upon. None are more core than Equal Protection and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

      • The courts correctly step in when the government, and voters, ignore the bedrock values the nation was founded upon.

        But same-sex marriage is not deeply rooted in our nation’s history and tradition. None of the founding Fathers spoke out in favor thereof. (By sharp contrast, there was significant disagreement over whether slavery was a good idea.)

      • 1. Between Vaughn Walker, Ginsburg, and the handling of Alabama’s request for a stay… we go beyond an appearance of impropriety – we’re looking at what could be actual impropriety.

        2. There are studies by Mark Regnerus that raise questions – as well as articles by Robert Oscar Lopez, for starters.

        3. The LGBT agenda’s harmed innocents, too. The Kleins in Oregon, Brendan Eich, Scott Eckhorn, Angela McCaskill, Carrie Prejean, my best friend (who was checking the underside of his car with a mirror on a daily basis after getting death threats from opponents of Prop 8), the Benham brothers, Craig James… shall we go on?

        4. Again… can an ethically compromised SCOTUS that is perceived to have NOT been objective or impartial really have the moral legitimacy to declare that its ruling will be the last word?

        5. Re-read the articles by Lopez and the studies by Regnerus.

        6. The First Amendment alone is a big reason. The Mormons, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox churches, evangelicals, not to mention Orthodox Jews, among others are not likely to accept that re-definition of marriage any time soon – if ever. So, what do you do about the faithful members of those religions, render them second-class citizens?

        7. I’ve been embarrassed and disgusted that in the name of “equality” we have decided to trash the First Amendment. I’m embarrassed that good people have been and are being threatened, bullied and targeted for the “crime” of opposing the LGBT agenda, while being tarred as bigots. I’m disgusted that unethical behavior has been and is being given a pass because it is for a cause our society’s elites support. The cheaters will win this battle… but there is still a war to be fought.

        • I’m only equipped to address some of your concerns, but I’ll do my best.

          3. Just because an agenda has unethical advocates who harm people in order to further the agenda, it doesn’t mean the agenda is inherently bad. Good ideas can have unethical supporters.

          4. I concur with your sentiment. The Supreme Court has overruled its own decisions in the past, and as someone who has seen too many authorities make terrible mistakes, I personally abhor the idea of a “last word” or the idea of accepting without agreeing the ideological ruling of an external agent.

          6. Regarding freedom of religion, I don’t think this is such a difficult issue. The state (as in the country) can create institutions, but religions also have a right to create their own institutions. States can set the terms for their institutions, as religions can set the terms for theirs. A state does not have a right to set the terms for religious institutions and vice versa. If a religion defines its institution of marriage as between a man and a woman, the state cannot force the religion to change it. Similarly, the state cannot force a rabbi to give me a bar mitzvah, which the Jewish religion says I am not entitled to.

          However, the state can (and in my opinion, should) offer its own institution of marriage (not necessarily labeled as such), and the legal benefits that it confers, to all couples without discriminating based on sex. Likewise, if the state came up with some sort of coming-of-age institution based on the bar mitzvah, then it would have to allow everyone to participate regardless of gender or religion.

          7. See 3. and 6. I think you’re right about there being plenty of people against gay marriage who aren’t bigots, and plenty of people for it who are. Bigotry has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to do with the respect you show people who do not line up with your belief, and to an extent how willing you are to reconsider your belief. I, too, am disappointed that humans can’t seem to get anything done for the right reasons. It means I can’t trust society to move in good directions. My rule of thumb is that if a change cannot occur without appealing to triggers and biases, it’s probably not a good change, and so in order to ensure I work for only good changes, I avoid doing anything that will lead people to forget how to think clearly, regardless of whether that would work towards my goal.

          • Terrific, fair, thoughtful post.

            Unfortunately, there is no way a bifurcation of state and religious marriage can happen, and at this point, will happen. Too many legitimate state purposes reside in creating stable family units. How would we ever work it with multiple church-based marriages with different requirements and definitions,and on top of that, another state institution called something else? So a church wouldn’t have to recognize the state “spigoonal”—would the state have to recognize all married couples from any church as also spigoonaled? Or would we have three kinds of couples with a sanctioned union—married in a church, spigoonalled by the state, and married spigoonals? How would the law treat each? Would all be essentially the same? (If so, what’s the point?) Could Mr. and Mrs. apply to both? Would the law treat both equally, or would only married couples be treated as if they weren’t married. er, spigoonalled?

            It’s one of those great theoretical solutions that would be an unholy mess in practice.

            • What I had in mind was that the state would only recognize the institute of “spigoonal” (well, I didn’t have that word in mind exactly), and each religion would ideally only recognize their own respective version of marriage. The state would not make any distinctions about whether people were married according to any religion, and religions could respond however they liked to spigoonal.

                • Not really? It’s not that different from the status quo. The state makes no law respecting an establishment of religion. People have to pay attention to the laws of the state and the rules of their religion. It’s already the case that religious people must get marriage licenses from the state but also choose to be married by religious figures, while nonreligious people only need the license (and whatever ceremony they choose). I’m just saying that if you’re religious and gay, but your religion doesn’t consider a homosexual relationship to qualify for marriage, by all means, change the religion from the inside, but the state can’t change the religion; it can only spigoonal you.

          • You’re trying hard to redefine the question, Cepho. I’ll only say this. The worth of a cause can be accurately judged by the worth of its adherents. The prime adherents of THIS cause are corruptors or those who have thrown away their human heritage and dwell on the lowest plane of life. A few bad eggs are inevitable in any collection of people. When they are consistently the lowest of the low, that has to be a warning to the wise.

            • “The worth of a cause can be accurately judged by the worth of its adherents.”

              Now I know you don’t believe that, quite apart from the fact that “worth” is such a complex, flexible and subjective concept that if it isn’t garbage, it’s too close to it to argue about.

              Let’ see—who were the adherents to, say, slavery? Just among the “worthy” Americans (I could start with Plato) who held slaves at one time or another, we have Benjamin Franklin,Sam Houston,Robert E. Lee, Thomas Hart Benton, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay,John Randolph, William Barrett Travis, Patrick Henry, Roger Taney, Edmund Randolph, Jefferson Davis, , Lewis and Clark, and Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, John Tyler, Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Jackson, George Washington, and Andrew Johnson.

              That theory is an appeal to authority, and just as bad as ad hominem–also classist, elitist, and baloney.
              Sounds good though. I’ll bet you a slave-holder said it once. Probably a Nazi, too.

              • Not quite the same thing, Jack. It’s one thing to accept the reality of an entrenched system that’s already in place (whatever its virtues or faults) and another to attempt to impose a system that’s much worse in every sense than the example you mentioned. Perversion is an insane denial of the basis of human nature. To attempt to legitimize it and to force acceptance of it onto a huge majority who want no part of it is an act of tyranny as an adjunct to its basic motive… which is pure evil. Those who would promote such things are thus tainted with that evil, even when they are blindly supporting a cause without thorough examination. But the core promoters ARE evil and reflect it by word and deed.

                • So, if I recall correctly from our previous conversations, the basis of human nature is to make more humans? Does this basis brook no dissenting declaration of purpose or diversity of desire? Would it not be an act of tyranny to force acceptance of this single-minded prime directive onto society? And does it not reduce us to the level of animals to have no greater aspirations in existence than to go forth and multiply?

                  As far as I can tell, one of the main features of consciousness is its ability to transcend biological imperative, to protect ideals (including consciousness in all its forms) rather than the genetic lineage it carries.

                  • The only “animalism” involved is when those who have rejected any higher motive besides an actual perversion of the baser reproductive urges in ways unthinkable to most and likewise create a society that “normalizes” this in an overt degradation of custom and nature. In decent society, the reality of propagation is ameliorated by the institutions of marriage and family, thus serving a purpose beyond the reality that is a staple of every successful higher form of life. Deviancy is a denial of truth and life. Decency is the conventionalizing of reality to obtain the maximum benefit for the sake of both the individuals, the children and the society of which they are a part. Once again, the protection and nurturement of women and children is the basic incentive for the existence of any society or civilization worthy of the name.

                    • I can’t track the reasoning in your points because all connection between “nonheteronormative” and “bad” is wrapped up in individual words, like “perverse” and “deviant,” which combine descriptive and normative concepts in neat, self-contained packages. An entire reasoning process can be done by abusing the law of syllogism with the aid of these words: unusual (factual)=perverse (conflationary)=wrong (normative). I hereby call for a Rationalist Taboo on all such words, and would like you to please repeat this post of yours without using them.

                      The only idea I was able to glean from it was that marriage and family are the institutionalization of mindless propagation, and yet somehow serve a higher purpose, even though they are utterly subservient to mindless propagation (as evidenced by the judgment that marriage should not take place unless propagation can occur.) I don’t see how this makes sense, but I may misunderstand what you mean.

                      Also, while there are doubtless some people in all demographics who have rejected higher motives, I would venture to say that the vast majority of homosexuals have not rejected all higher motives, because they’re otherwise “normal” humans.

                      Side note: I don’t think “incentive” is the word you mean there. “Objective,” perhaps? In any case, I rather resent the insinuations (which you may or may not have intended) that men need no protection, that women are incapable of serving as forces of protection in their own right, and that the fundamental agents of society in the abstract are men. I would have phrased that as “the protection and nurturing of children.” That’s tangential to my point, but I would feel remiss if I let it pass without comment.

                    • Quite the contrary, Cepho. I use the terms “perversity” and “deviancy” precisely because there can be no mistake about what I’m referring to. You understood what I said well enough. It’s just that you can’t bring yourself to acknowledge them without backtracking on the convoluted language and ideology necessary to insulate yourself from the reality of what they entail. I’m just not in the habit of dragging out a lot of “silver dollar words” for the sake of verbosity. This subject has reached the point in this country where there’s no real worth in playing these silly games. There’s too much at stake with our children at such a level of risk from legitimized predators.

        • You have no understanding of the First Amendment. No state or federal law will compel a religious institution to perform a gay marriage.

  2. I guess I’ve already made my views on freedom of religion, state’s rights, the Deviant Agenda, the unconstitutionality of the federal judiciary and the sanctity of children’s lives sufficiently clear.

    • Yeah, I think I’ll sit this one out too. I really don’t think another cluster f-bombing campaign offers even limited appeal.

      • I’m in favor. I’ve made my views clear, as well. I’ll watch, but there is no sense in going to war when you can’t change ANY minds on this one.

        • Au contraire; you are right in that there is no sense in “going to war,” as you put it. However, there is plenty of sense in engaging on this topic. With the Paradigm Synch mindset, I get to understand people’s concerns and reasoning processes. By listening to people and being open to my own mind being changed, I learn why people disagree with me and what it would take for us to agree, and I even learn how their ideas can have good aspects and my ideas can have bad aspects. Through humility, I can work with them to create a solution that combines the best of both of our ideas. It is much easier to reach a consensus when you know what people want and can figure out a way for the solution to be acceptable to them.

          • Very well. 1) I oppose gay marriage, because I oppose changing the definition of words in order to satisfy a TINY minority that is attempting to change the definition by bullying, intimidation and false attacks, and; 2) I oppose any effort to limit the rights (and privileges) of anyone involved in a committed long term relationship. I have stated this position in numerous other comments, and have no intention of changing this stance. I have arrived at these positions after much discussion with people whom I trust, including my gay youngest son, and have no particular interest in engaging in verbal fisticuffs with others yet again. This is going to be the last comment I make on this subject. With apologies to Jack, my feeling is that arguments for both sides have been exhaustive, and I do not think I have much of anything further to add to the discussion.

            • Dragin_dragon, your and my views and aspirations seem much more similar than divergent. From your third sentence above of 10:32 am, I can only say “virtual ditto.” I shall make no further comment on this subject in this blog. My mind is more tightly closed than those of most who aspire, and otherwise hope and work, to see mine change.

            • 1) There’s no need to change the definition of marriage. Religions can have marriage which they have the right to distribute as they choose, and governments can have spigoonal, which anyone can apply for.

              2) I agree. I do think, though, that it would be further useful to grant gay couples the same rights and privileges under the state that straight couples have. It is good to promote stable and healthy relationships. If you think monogamy is beneficial, I think expanding the qualifications of people who are allowed to engage in the institutionalized form of it would be useful for promoting it.

              3) I’m not interested in fisticuffs either. I’m interested in finding flaws in my own position so I don’t end up advocating something destructive. I thought that was how disagreements were supposed to work.

        • The thing is, minds are changing, but only one way. I’ve never heard of anyone deciding to oppose same-sex marriage after favoring it, have you? Yet more of the public is supporting gay marriage every year, every month. Abortion, in contracts, is still dynamic, with minds changing both ways all the time.

          • When they do, it’s not a matter of moral choice, Jack. It’s a matter of social pressure, intimidation and (at best) misinformation. Lots of people tend to casually accept a concept that seems to be based on fairness without taking the time to study the ramifications or the motives of those who agitate for it. When a cause has the favor of the bulk of a largely corrupt media and can set up a constant drumbeat, the advantage is theirs.

            Public acceptance, however, is beginning to slow as those ramifications begin to become apparent. Obscene freak shows in public, deviant politicians illicitly pushing their agenda, the attacks on the church, businesses and the family and now (as predicted) the growing push for legitimizing sex with children, incest and bestiality. It all comes under the same heading: Perversion.

            The agitators try to deny this in their media barrages, but the truth is becoming hard to hide. People can be careless, but that doesn’t mean you can fool them forever. Once the true nature and scope of the Deviant Agenda becomes known, there is going to be a VERY angry backlash.

          • This is an appeal to popularity – especially confounding when you, in this very post, admit that ” the media reporting on this episode has been biased and slanted, as virtually all mainstream media coverage of the gay marriage issue has been for at least a decade. (Pssst! They’re for it!)”

            • What is? A proposition that has no rational rebuttal is taking root because it’s increasingly right. The news media’s obligation is to report the facts and law, not push them one way or the other. I criticize gay advocacy excesses and unethical activity, like the mayors harassing Chic-Fil-A…the media cheered them on. See the distinction? What does popularity have to do with it? Some bad ideas become popular (legalized pot) because people are inattentive, gullible, selfish or ignorant. Others become popular because they make sense. This is one of those. The idea is popular because its fair and right, I didn’t say it was fair and right because it was popular. When has this blog ever taken a position to be popular?

            • Gay marriage is not the same thing as inter-racial marriage was, nor is sexual orientation comparable to race.

              There are rational arguments to be made against gay marriage – indeed, some of the social science by Mark Regnerus could make things interesting. Advancing medical technology is changing the abortion debate. Will advancing social science do the same here?

              If so, what then? We will have gay marriage decreed by the Supreme Court, and too many people will not want to accept the science that might call for a change.

              • 1. They are comparable, as both are irrelevant personal characteristics on which the law should not discriminate.

                2. I have a Regenerus file. You can find one social scientist to argue for anything, and he’s an excellent example. Slate did one of the (many) take downs of his work. I’d say the chances of his research turning the tides is 0. Will advancing social science do the same here? Even if you could prove, as he has not, that same sex couples were not as effective parents as opposite sex couples, that would not make a case for prohibiting gay marriage.

      • “Elaborate”? When you put children in the custody of people who are sexually insane, you place them in danger. But “sanctity” also includes a decent upbringing and a sense of imparted decency and normalcy; something that no same-sex couple can realistically provide. Nor would any have the inclination to do so, as the basic purpose of “gay marriage” is to obtain children for indoctrination into perversity.

        • You have yet to establish that homosexuality is inherently dangerous to children. The only negative effect I’ve heard you come up with isn’t even circular logic; it’s begetting the question: “Homosexuals raising kids is bad because it leads to kids thinking homosexuality is not bad even though it’s bad, and then it will be accepted in society even though it’s bad.” Accepting a bad thing is bad for society, yes, but what makes homosexuality bad in the first place? You can’t impugn people for trying to convince society they’re not bad without establishing that they’re bad in the first place. It’s like arresting people for resisting arrest.

          I’ll grant that homosexual sex is an application of evolutionary desires and organs that, from a purely evolutionary standpoint, is basically useless and doesn’t “win the biology game” as my high school bio teacher would put it. So is heterosexual sex with contraceptives (which some people disagree with for similar reasons). So is playing piano. So is drawing comics. So is skydiving. So is fashion design. Are you going to criticize people for wasting time and effort doing things which are not strictly necessary to create the next generation? Are you going to say that cutting-edge culinary artists are perverting their own hunger and society’s taste buds by inventing new foods when we already have all the food we need?

          Unusual or even evolutionarily pointless acts are not inherently wrong, because the evolution of our biology and our culture is not the measuring stick we should be using to decide if something is harmful. My consciousness-based ethics system informs me that as long as something doesn’t interfere with the development of a consciousness, including becoming an addiction, then it’s not inherently bad. I’ve raised this point multiple times and it’s never been addressed.

          “Now I’m asking you, I’m begging you, just so everyone knows/Oh, I’m daring you to say something original” –Scenes from a Movie: Save You

          • Homosexuality is the equivalent of playing the piano or checkers?! Pianists and gamesters (unless we’re talking about Liberace or Elton John!) are not liable to hold (shall we say?) “confused” notions about sexuality and are thus much less likely to pose a threat to a child’s innocence and well-being. I’d say that placing a child in the custody of such people is not only stupid, but an actual crime against nature.

            • Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you on this; I’ve had lots of work to deal with.

              I’m not familiar with the concept of a crime against nature, unless it means harming an ecosystem or something. If a heterosexual couple doesn’t pose a threat to a child’s innocence and well-being, what harm would come of changing the gender of one of the parents in the scenario? What do you think would actually happen, and why do you think it would happen?

              I think some of your assumptions about the behaviors of homosexual people are incorrect. Homosexuality does not imply that a person will harm others any more than heterosexuality does. The properties of “being a predator” and “being homosexual” are conceptually and causally unrelated, as far as I’m aware, and I actually know homosexual people.

              Where are you getting your ideas from?

  3. Lewis Carroll avoided reality for the children’s sake. For the sake of our children today, I cannot afford that luxury. The evils facing them are many and increasingly manifest to all who are willing to see them and acknowledge them for what they are.

  4. I said I was not engaging. But I am engaging, after all. I staked my position prematurely.

    In anticipation of a particular Supreme Court ruling, I am writing this post-mortem proactively.

    Such writing as this is not new to America. It is somewhat like a sportswriter’s “scoop” of a particular nine-inning game, written in the eighth inning. It is less like the note General Eisenhower prepared for D-Day in 1944, in case the Normandy invasion was repelled or otherwise failed:

    The ruling is wrong and wrong-headed. It is (sexuality-based) “affirmative action” – and a hint of the tyranny necessary to enforce such. It is tyranny masquerading as some wishful, magical democratization to rectify over-imagined, phony injustice. It is the triumph of a tiny, belligerent, bullying minority of change agents, employing ends-justifies-the means mentality. Those agents have taken advantage of recent decades’ trends among Americans, who show increasingly pervasive tolerance for authoritarianism in American governance. Not ironically, that growing tolerance for authoritarianism is a result of waxing mass abandonment and rejection of moral, ethical and behavioral standards across several generations’ time. That mass shift has naturally lead to an increasingly anarchic population which is, pitiably and simultaneously, self-cajoled into living under the delusion that it reflects a “refined, superior, progressive” culture. The ruling promotes inclusion to feed delusion: “Different Is Equal.” It further promotes the fiction that unequal status is tantamount to unequal protection. It is the advent of intrusion and imposition on cultural institutions, by extra-institutional authorities obsessed with validating their (non-existent) authority over, and control of, institutions of which they are not a part, via top-down, ham-handedly if not brutishly compelled, deny-failure-at-all-costs social engineering. Thus ultimately, the ruling shall be self-evidently self-discrediting and self-defeating.

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
    “There is nothing new under the sun.”

    The Orwellian definition in law of interpersonal relationships’ status, in spite of the human species’ overwhelming genetic predisposition to status-discriminate on bases of relationship-classes’ defining behaviors, as hence hereby and in perpetuity equalized, equal, and equally exalted – and mass acceptance of such definition regardless of biological, anthropomorphic, psychological and/or behavioral sexuality, while authoritarianistically (thus not ironically) deemed “equal” according to ages-old discriminatory conventions (i.e., “marriage”) – are thus ultimately doomed. History shall continue to be forgotten, revised, re-imagined, and repeated.

  5. I apparently need to spend more time on here over the weekends, it’s an interesting topic, at least to me. And I missed my chance to squick SMP again.

    • Believe me, we are none the poorer for another squick fight or cluster f-bombing campaign not happening. Each of us knows where the other stands and why and we’ve posted on it at some length. Neither of us is changing his stance. There is nothing more to say and no value in hurling insults at each other.

  6. Ugh.

    To revisit this, yet again.

    Here’s my summary thoughts on this:

    1) The primary hang up I think most homophobes have after years of ingrained ick factor, is the notion that homosexuals PICK their orientation.
    a) There may very well be a small component of the homosexual population that does choose.
    b) There may very well. be a component of the homosexual population that has reached homosexuality through some sort of abuse, poor experiences, mental imbalance, or other series of unfortunate life events that molded them. So? Some heterosexuals are like that too. Some abusers are like that too.
    c) Most, however, are born that way, through a mechanism science has not fully discerned. It isn’t genetic, and most analysis points to chemical composition of the womb. Because of C, we must tolerate A & B…unless the B’s are actively hurting other people, in which case, we already have laws prohibiting such conduct.

    2) Marriage CAN be a free market thing. I would fully expect a Christian to disregard a Hindu “marriage” just as much as I would fully expect a Hindu to disregard an Islamic “marriage” or a Christian “marriage”…in their own brains or within the confines of their religious meetings or solely in the marketplace of discourse.

    3) However, the government has decided (wisely or not…the Libertarian in me says “not”) to poke it’s nose into marriage and give special consideration to arrangements between two people who have decided to solidify an exclusive contractual bond between themselves bearing specific rights and responsibilities atypical of other marketplace contracts.

    4) Equal protection means that any two people seeking such contractual arrangement should enjoy the protections and considerations, not just heterosexuals.

    5) The marketplace, given full disclosure, would likely play fair with discriminating businesses and non-discriminating ones, but it would still be unethical to discriminate.

    I’m leaving several out, and I’ve written thoroughly on those topics, so if anyone sees issues with what I’ve written, I’m not entertaining any arguments in depth, you can go back to the previous discussions.

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