What should liberals think about marriage?

Andrew is right, classical liberalism does not immediately supply a compelling reason to reject ‘gay marriage’, … except in necessarily narrow and unconvincing terms. This is because it is a political theory, not a moral philosophy.

Thus, while classical liberals can gesture toward love, as Andrew does, they cannot speak to what most couples, certainly all religious couples, and most societies know about marriage: the biological, emotional and sacramental realities merely secular critiques too often ignore. Classical liberals say ‘marriage’ but they mean something else. What they really describe is more precisely a registry office event – one where the witnesses, and indeed the law, are blind to the genitals, hearts and (too often) children (including in potentia) of the parties involved.

John Heard in responding to my critique of his objections to gay marriage.

Indeed, from the liberal state’s perspective a church wedding is just a registry office with stained glass windows, and the priest just a celebrant wearing strange clothes. That’s how it has to be in a society in which religion has lost its hold over the population, with 60% of marriages now performed by celebrants – and with many of the people who do get married in a church making a rare appearance there to do so. Marriage can have ‘sacramental realities’, but like children and even sex these are optional extras. The law does not require any of them, even though children ‘in potentia’ (or these days, watching mum and dad get married) are used as a reason for distinguishing gay from straight relationships.

But why in a liberal society should the law have anything to do with this aspect of people’s private lives? Why isn’t ‘marriage’ just a particularly intense form of friendship, in which the parties get to make up their own rules without any outside interference or involvement? Or why, as David Boaz from Cato has suggested, shouldn’t marriage just be another private contract, enforceable by the state, but according to terms decided by the parties rather than by the template provided in the law of marriage and (more importantly, in practice) divorce?

I have some sympathy for Boaz’s view, but on balance I think there is a useful role for the liberal state in facilitating the kinds of relationships that people in a free society want to have. In one of his many excellent essays, Kenneth Minogue noted a paradox: that one of our favourite uses of freedom is to get rid of it – we sign contracts, take jobs, get married etc. But these beneficial activities are made easier if they are shaped to some extent by the law.

As I noted in my post yesterday, marriage changes risk assessments by the parties, making exit harder than from a friendship and obligations broader and more open-ended than in a contract. It makes it safer to engage in long-term projects like raising children and provides mutual insurance (‘in sickness and in health’, and all that) in the face of the many unpredictable events that will happen over a long partnership.

Gay marriage would not be inconsistent with these liberal rationales for marriage, and given a general liberal commitment to treating citizens equally it is hard to see a liberal reason for opposing gay marriage.

I agree with John that liberal arguments won’t decide this debate politically; liberal support is largely already built into the pro-gay marriage polling, and it is more conservative people who need convincing. But I think liberal principles provide a good framework for thinking through the issues.

35 thoughts on “What should liberals think about marriage?

  1. “But I think liberal principles provide a good framework for thinking through the issues.” Or, if you love the 1970s, that great old hippie framework for thinking through the issues: “Do your own thing”.

    “it is more conservative people who need convincing” this is working itself out too – look at the Anglican Church, if it doesn’t split it will keep moving towards accepting gay relationships.

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  2. this is working itself out too

    yes perhaps, but at a cost. Anglican Church can actually split. And more importantly, a few gay marriages supported by a few Democrats in the US have helped reelect GWBush last time round. That’s what social liberals want?

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  3. “Why isn’t ‘marriage’ just a particularly intense form of friendship”

    I think the argument from psychology is that love and liking are two different thing that are only moderatly correlated cf. great friendships with your siblings/long term friends from childhood versus partners.

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  4. “Why isn’t ‘marriage’ just a particularly intense form of friendship”

    It’s quite possible to love somebody you don’t particularly like. Granted, it’s not common, but sexual attraction doesn’t play by anybodies rules.

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  5. I went to John Heard’s blog to read his reply, and was quite disappointed. It basically said that a classical liberal framework is the wrong way to think about the issue, but failed to seriously address any of the arguments Andrew put up – whatever label one might apply to them. John may well be Andrew’s friend, and vice versa, and he certainly has a nice turn of phrase and seems an interesting character, but I imagine that dinner party debate in Carlton must get a tad frustrating some times!

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  6. In his article in the Oz, John Heard claimed that the key reason gay marriage should be opposed was because of the cost to heterosexual couples, of which ‘most people’ are convinced. The only poll I have seen showed 44% against, 38% in favour of gay marriage, with a plurality of women in favour. A plurality of under-50s was also in favour.

    Andrew’s response, as I understood it, was to demolish the argument that there was any ‘cost’ for heterosexual couples in legalising gay marriage. The idea that heterosexual couples are discouraged from getting married by the existence of legally recognised gay marriages is just extraordinary, and Heard’s ‘evidence’ from Scandinavia is beyond absurd. Marriage has been declining in Scandinavia for forty years, it has continued to decline since gay marriage (or something similar) was recognised, therefore gay marriage causes a decline in heterosexual marriage? Pathetic. Just pathetic.

    Having had his core argument demolished, Heard’s response has been to retreat into moralistic ranting about ‘registry offices’, ‘sacrament’ and ‘natural law’. That paragraph in particular is just ludicrous, as he descends into lurid ranting about the ‘hearts’ and ‘genitals’ of those concerned being ignored by the liberal state.

    I haven’t come across any of John Heard’s work before. But if this is an example – crude appeals to homophobia, quoting of conservative newspapers as if they are evidence of fact, religious fundementalism, and childish ranting about body parts when his initial arguments are demolished – I won’t be going out of my way to find more of it. Heard’s position is based in emotion and religious fanaticism; making public policy on the basis of such things would be childish.

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  7. >> “The idea that heterosexual couples are discouraged from getting married by the existence of legally recognised gay marriages is just extraordinary”

    I think you misunderstood.

    When you convince people that marriage is just an adult relationship with no connection to responsible procreation, then, nonmarital birth trends will go up, not down.

    When you convince people that marriage is gender neutral, that it is neutered, then, participation in marriage will go down, not up.

    Marriage does something unique in our human society: it integrates man and woman; it does this in combination with providing contingency for responsible procreation.

    What the SSM argument amounts to is a demand to replace marriage recognition (i.e. recognition of the core of marriage) with recognition of something else. And, according to the SSM argument, that replacement must be taylored to fit the limitations of the one-sexed alternative.

    The emphasis on the homosexual relationship — a mere subset of the one sexed arrangement which, in turn, is a mere subset of the range of nonmarital alternatives — is a misdirection.

    The issue is marriage the social insitution and its core for which it has a preferential status. The homosexual relationship is sex-segregative; it does not provide for responsible procreation. So we get more misdirection: pointing to third party procreation which is extramarital even when married couples partake of it; pointing to adoption which is not procreation but which is righty prioritized on the basis of marital status.

    So more misdirection: heh! these couples exist so you gotta treat them like they are in a sex-integrative relationship — and look! some have children so you gotta give them marital status.

    The presence of children does not bestow marital status on the both-sexed couple so don’t demand such for the one-sexed couple. When the two-dad or two-mom scenario depends on parental relinquishment, or loss, whether through adoption or extramarital procreation, and that is treated as if it was on par with responsible procreation, then, you diffuse the meaning of marriage for all of society.

    So the issue is not that two men set up house together and that this somehow discourages people from marrying. The issue is that you want to substitute the meaning of marriage with something that is nonmarriage. Your idealization of a certain kind of homosexual relationship type does not define the conjugal relationship.

    The equation is not so much treating the homosexual relationship as if it was the conjugal relationship, out of some sentimental notion that the government should regulate romance. The equation is, bluntly, that all marriages are now to be treated as if they were your idealized version of the homosexual arrangement.

    Marriage, as a social instituiton, normalizes behaviors — chief among these being the sexual relations of man and woman — and if you truly seek the special status of marriage then you seek to coercively supplant what marriage recognition normalizes in its noncoercive way.

    Either that or you reject preferential status for marriage and would flatten marriage recognition to some vague thing dealing with contractual arrangements — special friendships that are asexual in the eyes of the Law.

    The naure of marriage is inseperable from the nature of humankind — it is two-sexed — and inseperable from the nature of human generativity — it is both-sexed — and inseperable from the nature of human community — it, too, is both-sexed.

    In rejecting the core of marriage, the SSM argument would sweep aside the nature of humankind, of human generativity, and of human community. And for what? For the sake of a view of human sexuality that shows no preference for integration of the sexes combined with responsible procreation.

    If those two goods are not worthy of preference, then go forth with your argument but don’t hide the goal of replacing marriage recognition with recognition of something else — don’t pretend that mislabeling nonmarriage would transform it into marriage.

    If those two goods are worthy of preference, in your view, then go ahead and explain how best to show preference for the core of marriage while rejecting it within marital recogniton.

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  8. FR says:
    “When you convince people that marriage is just an adult relationship with no connection to responsible procreation, then, nonmarital birth trends will go up, not down.”

    Hmmm… maybe. This is the most plausible disincentive reason I have seen yet. But it doesn’t actually provide any reason not to go down that path. Marriage gives no guarantee of resonsible procreation — perhaps we should promote good parenting rather than focussing on marriage?

    “When you convince people that marriage is gender neutral, that it is neutered, then, participation in marriage will go down, not up.”

    Why? FR provides this as a blanket statement with no evidence or reasoning to back it up.

    “Marriage does something unique in our human society: it integrates man and woman; it does this in combination with providing contingency for responsible procreation.”

    I am not sure that marriage is unique, at all. I (am a man and) integrate quite well with (my beloved) woman. I think that we have the same capacity for responsible procreation and parenting as if we were married.

    “The issue is that you want to substitute the meaning of marriage with something that is nonmarriage.”

    I think that this might be the core of F. Rottles argument. FR seeks to impose a meaning of marriage upon the rest of society, whereas I would argue that it is my prerogative to ascertain what I want out of it. Marriage is a varied concept, interpreted in very different ways by people of different religious/non-religious persuasions. What right has FR to tell me what I should want out of my marriage?

    I guess what I am getting at is that FR keeps alluding to a ‘core of marriage’, something that I can see can only mean different things to different people. The common element is the agreement between the two parties — whether this contract is signed between people of the same sex, of different sex, in a church, a registry office, or, as I recently witnessed, in a sheep paddock in Tasmania, is irrelevant.

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  9. “if this is an example – crude appeals to homophobia,…”

    I don’t think J. Heard’s arguments are homophobic. Can a gay person be homophobic?

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  10. >> “Marriage gives no guarantee of resonsible procreation”

    Guarantee, no, contingency, yes.

    In what other area of marriage law, say under the proposed reform of SSM, would you expect a guarantee?

    >> “I am not sure that marriage is unique, at all. I (am a man and) integrate quite well with (my beloved) woman. I think that we have the same capacity for responsible procreation and parenting as if we were married.”

    The social institution is at issue, not this or that particular relationship. Nonetheless, the social institution, at its core, integrates man and woman. This is combined, at its core, with contingency for responsible procreation.

    If this is not the core — the essence — of the thing recognized with a preferential status, then, what is recognized?

    >> “FR seeks to impose a meaning of marriage upon the rest of society”

    Not at all. Do you deny that the nature of humankind is two-sexed; that the nature of human generativity and of human community is both-sexed? I did not impose this on humankind.

    >> “it is my prerogative to ascertain what I want out of it.”

    Sure you can claim that for your particular relationship, but not for the social institution.

    The SSM argument is aimed at redefining the homosexual relationship. But it is framed as “redefining” marriage. You’d argue that your particular relationship destroys the core of a social institution. At the getgo it appears you reject marriage for what it is.

    >> “What right has FR to tell me what I should want out of my marriage?”

    Ask me, I am right here.

    The answer is that I claim no such right.

    >> “FR keeps alluding to a ‘core of marriage’, something that I can see can only mean different things to different people.”

    The essence of something, its nature, its core is not endlessly variable. You deny that the social institution of marriage has a nature, an essence, a core?

    >> “The common element is the agreement [i.e. a contract] between the two parties … ”

    Marriage is far more than a contract.

    But if you would restrict all of society to your particular limited view of the social institution, then, you need to provide more solid reasoning.

    If you want to reduce marriage recognition to merely the adjudication of private contracts, endlessly variable, then you might prefer to promote designated beneficiaries which are available for all kinds of nonmarital arrangements, already. Or you might look to streamlinging such arrangements, via something like Reciprocal Beneficiaries, which is not a new relationship status but is based on the trust relationship established via affidavit.

    If it is a contract, or an agreement, that you think is the common element, then, you don’t need to touch marriage law at all.

    I see this quite a bit in SSM arguments. The claim that protection is needed for this or that beneficiary. But marriage is more than a protective status; it is more than merey tolerated; marriage is preferred. Marital status is a special status. Merging marriage with nonmarriage would demote marital status.

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  11. Russell, so disagreement with SSM is now homophobia? And, if that disagreement is expressed by a same-sex attracted person, it is now internalized homophobia?

    Looks like you are trying to herd people rather than convince them. You seem rather fearful of meriting disagreement, with that last comment.

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  12. FR – the post didn’t merit that degree of analysis: I was eating lunch, listening to the radio, and reading and typing, I just stuck Boris’ question into Google to see what came up.

    No, I don’t think disagreement with SSM = homophobia. A few years ago when we all first heard of it, it just seemed too outlandish, had to be a joke. Over time you read things, see things on TV, hear conversations and reconsider – I’ve reconsidered both from Andrew’s Liberal framework, and from my religious framework, and now think there’s no reason worth making an exception of this tiny segment of the population. Inclusive rather than exclusive seems the way to go … and it is the way society is going on this issue.

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  13. FR – I just read your last post where you say “Marital status is a special status” – is that based on your earlier statement “Do you deny that the nature of humankind is two-sexed?”

    That’s maybe the problem – you could be a bit more nuanced in your understanding of sexuality. Rather than saying “the nature of humankind is two-sexed” you might listen to the voices and experience of people who would disagree with you.

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  14. “The naure of marriage is inseperable from the nature of humankind — it is two-sexed — and inseperable from the nature of human generativity — it is both-sexed — and inseperable from the nature of human community — it, too, is both-sexed”

    Actually, F. Rottles, you might not be aware of this, but homosexuality exists across the entire animal kingdom, from flys to sheep to birds to humans. This suggests homosexuality is a natural and inseparable part of group behavior– if you can point out one type of animal group that does not have homosexual members, I’ll be impressed. I therefore fail to see any value in all of these “to be human” arguments against homosexuality.

    “… damages social institutions..”

    I’m fine with marriage at the government level simply being a rubber stamp with a limited set of rules (as it is now). This sort of arrangment works well for lots of different social institutions (including different types of marriage), yet doesn’t destroy the uniqueness of them — church groups are an obvious of this — if someone wants to set up another, say, Christian group that believes in wildly different values versus the mainstream ones, I fail to see how that does any damage whatsoever to the mainstraim ones. I think you worry too much about the amount other people worry what others do.

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  15. When it comes to making my decision about whether to marry a woman, and/or have children, I can’t imagine a more extraneous issue than whether queer couples are also able to marry. What kind of person would think that way?

    “he issue is that you want to substitute the meaning of marriage with something that is nonmarriage. ”

    No. The issue is that different people define the meaning of marriage differently. Some, like Mr Norton, make a logical argument based on reason. Others imply that it is ‘inhuman’ not to share their definition.

    And may I ask – how do you feel about heterosexual couples who don’t want children but choose to get married and remain childless? It seems to me that all your arguments against allowing SSM would apply to them as well.

    PS – I don’t think John Heard is homophobic. ‘Appeal’ is the key word. Nor do I think John Howard is racist. But I hear the undertones in Howard’s rhetoric, and I see it in Heard’s words. I should nonetheless apologise, particularly to Andrew, for the rather heated tone of my comments – plead tiredness.

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  16. Russell: “more nuanced in your understanding of sexuality”

    Do you agree that the nature of humankind is two-sexed? That the nature of human generativity is both-sexed? That human community is both-sexed, by its very nature?

    That’s the basis for human sexuality.

    Now, if you figure that homosexuality is relevant to marriage, please explain the additional nuance that has brought you to that assertion.

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  17. “homosexuality exists across the entire animal kingdom”

    That is a very strange way to describe the various behaviors that have been observed in various circumstances. Also, you have over-reached.

    Nonetheless, you committed the naturalistic fallacy, perhaps because you have misunderstood the meaning of “the nature of humankind”.

    You claim that homosexuality — your word — is natural. Yes or no, it is irrelevant to this discussion. Marriage is not about that — not in the remotest sense.

    It enters into the SSM campaign because that campaign is preoccupied with the claims of false equivalency put forth via the gay identity. That identity is a socio-political construct and no such construct is “natural” in the sense in which you answered my previous comments.

    On the other hand …

    From our two-sexed nature, human community arises, sustains itself, and flourishes. The flipside of sex integration is social chaos. Integration brings social cohesion and it brings civilisation. Neither cohesion nor civilization is “natural” to human beings, but both are intrisnic to the the nature of humankind.

    What is in our nature is not necessarily what we are prone to do naturally, without the normalizing function of social institutions. Marriage is such an institution. It is man-made, not a given order that comes naturally.

    Hopefully the distinction between “natural” and “the nature of” is more clear in my meaning. If not, ask and I’ll try again.

    For example …

    The family, founded on the relationship of man and woman (father and mother), is the first comnunity and it pre-exists society. Not just this modern society, but all societies, in the past, current, and in the future too. No, this is not an appeal from tradition, but this does point to the source of our marriage customs, traditions, and various legal treatments of the conjugal relationship.

    I know that the SSM campaign likes to seperate “civil marriage” from the social institution, but that is like trying to pry apart the shadow (i.e. the thing in the lawbooks) from the object that casts the shadow (i.e. the social institution recognized, not created, by law, customs, traditions).

    This is not foreign to the study of social institutions such as marriage. It is not something cooked up in recent years just to thwart the claims of the SSM campaign.

    It is not based on naturalism.

    Marriage is not purely a natural phenomena. I have not said that if something can be done it is therefore ascribable to the nature of humankind.

    Also, I haven’t said that just because men and women are sexually attracted to one anther, the social institution of marriage is defined by sexual *attraction*.

    Nor that marriage is defined by the given inclination of men and women to be drawn to each other in sexual *desire*.

    Far from it.

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  18. “The family, founded on the relationship of man and woman (father and mother), is the first comnunity and it pre-exists society.”

    Is there evidence for this? Some evolutionary biologists think that there’s evidence that human beings may have (sometimes?) lived in harems.

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  19. FR – there’s a difference between biology and sexuality. You could Google all day on it, but maybe start here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_orientation

    Sex doesn’t have to have anything to do with marriage – there are people who get married in their eighties – for companionship, the formal status it gives to the relationship, the personal meaning it has for them etc etc

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  20. >> “how do you feel about heterosexual couples who don’t want children but choose to get married and remain childless? It seems to me that all your arguments against allowing SSM would apply to them as well.”

    Intentions are not always a good predictor of what actually happens.

    Minds can change. Unintended child are conceived and born. Couples who remain faithful to their conjugal promise will not procreate extramaritally.

    If a man-woman couple only sought a relationship modelled the limitations of the homosexual relationship, they probably would not choose marriage for the core of marriage. Rather, they’d be freeloaders on the special status.

    However, marriage also integrates the sexes and, as for your implied objection, marriage does not guarantee procreation, but it provides the contingency for responsible procreation.

    The husband and wife who choose to plan for a childless marriage do not overturn the core of marriage.

    The one-sex relationship — homosexual or not — is sex-segregative and, where two-dad or two-mom scenarios might arise, depends on parental relinquishment or loss rather than contingency for responsible procreation.

    That’s just the way it is. I know the the SSM argument is that society — through the law — should exalt the peripheral aspects of marriage as if those were the core of the thing. But the core remains and it is extrinsic to the one-sexed kind of arrangement.

    ————

    1. Rather than how I feel, I’ll say how I think.

    2. Heterosexual couples, no, but man-woman pairs, yes.

    I nitpick on those two points not to correct you but to emphasize that this is not about sentimentalizing this or that sexual orientation.

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  21. >> “Sex doesn’t have to have anything to do with marriage”

    Do you say the same about SSM?

    I think you confuse the particular couple and their particular reasons for forming a particular marriage with the core of the social institution into which they bring their relationship.

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  22. ““Sex doesn’t have to have anything to do with marriage”
    Do you say the same about SSM?”

    Yes. I think we can allow people to get married without knowing what goes on in their bedrooms.

    “Heterosexual couples, no, but man-woman pairs, yes.”
    Biology seems very straightforward, whereas sexuality isn’t – I think you need to expand your awareness of the variety of human experience.

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  23. >> “Some evolutionary biologists think that there’s evidence that human beings may have (sometimes?) lived in harems.”

    I dunno.

    A theory with no fathers? The harems must have been one-generational and hence our evolution away from such communities.

    Maybe you are referring to some of speculations based on comparison of Bonbos and human beings. The Bonbo species lives, socializes, and procreates in both-sexed communities even if that species is less sex-integrative than the more sophisticated human species.

    ——

    In our over-confidence, we moderns — especially we in a prosperous country — can tend to assume that sex integration is inevitable, however, it is rather fragile. If it is not normalized, it invites social chaos.

    It doesn’t take a majority of society to segregate along man-woman lines for social cohesion to become strained.

    Consider societies where the ratio of male-female has been upset by disease, war, or even sex-selective abortion. Look at places where privileged and powerful men actually do hoard and control large populations of women; the excluded and disadvantaged men tend to threaten social order just by virture of their being segregated — i.e. kept outside of the both-sexed social institution of marriage.

    Not all men and all women will choose to marry, of course. But marriage guides all men and all women, even the unmarried. It permeates society. I think that the pro-SSM campaign is a reaction against this influence of marriage. We hear it all the time — all adult relationships, all family types, are of equal merit! Not so, unfortunately.

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  24. So, Russell, for you marriage is not a sexual relationship?

    I am not referring to this or that particular instance of marriage, this or that marriage at a particular moment in its lifetime, but the social institution.

    Marriage, the thing that the law recognizes, is not a sexual relationship, by its very nature?

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  25. Russell, we disagree but that disagreement does not make your view of human sexuality superior to the nature of humankind.

    And, as I have said, I did not refer solely to biology. You did, mistakenly, in replying to my comment.

    >> “Biology seems very straightforward, whereas sexuality isn’t – I think you need to expand your awareness of the variety of human experience.”

    What is the nature of human sexuality, Russell? Is it at odds with the nature of humankind?

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  26. FR – my view of sexuality tries to take into account the varied ‘nature of humankind’ – yours seems to ignore the experience of people who don’t fit your schema.

    You could extend your simplistic view of biology = destiny to women and work. Women are biologically the childbearers and thus traditionally ‘integrated’ with men by running the home, while the men went out to work. (Didn’t work too well for women who didn’t follow that path but too bad for them). Should we go back to those ‘natural’ roles? Should women resign from their jobs when they marry, should we get rid of equal pay?

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  27. “Maybe you are referring to some of speculations based on comparison of Bonbos and human beings. The Bonbo species lives, socializes, and procreates in both-sexed communities even if that species is less sex-integrative than the more sophisticated human species.”

    My understanding is that this is speculation informed by looking at how different primates, including bonobos, now live. Another aspect to this is what is called “sperm wars” – the size of the testicles of the male may be related to how promiscuous females are – the theory is that if females are promiscuous, the testicles are larger (larger testes produce more sperm).

    Richard Dawkins writes that people are speculating that, by looking at current primate behaviour and thinking about what sinilar behaviour might have meant for early humans, it is possible that humans may well have lived in harem-like social structures due to human adult males being, generally, larger than females, and also by looking at human testicle size. Human testicles are tiny, nor enormous (compared to chimpanzees (?)) so early human females may have been a bit promiscuous, but not enormously so.

    This is all speculation of course!

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  28. Russell, that’s a lot of misdirection.

    I asked a handful of basic questions about your objections.

    If your schema is superior, then it should be no problem to answer the questions which are begged by your own stated objections.

    Take the emotion out of your objections and let’s focus on the thought process, the reasoning, the structure of the schema.

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  29. FR – your views, as I have understood them, are based on some idea that there are men and there women, and that they are biologically designed to go together, and that the institution of marriage helps lock them into a socially desirable stable relationship.

    My views are based on the perception that while most people feel comfortable with a sexuality based on being either a man or a woman, there are some people who are different. And that’s fine. That’s natural. The fact that they also want to form relationships is understandable, and the fact that some will want to formalise the relationship is fine for an increasing number of people.

    The implication of your views – that their sexuality is “at odds with the nature of humankind” is, I think, harmful and dangerous.

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  30. It is truthful when applied to the conjugal relationship which is in full accord with the nature of humankind, as we’ve discussed here.

    >> “The fact that they also want to form relationships is understandable, and the fact that some will want to formalise the relationship is fine for an increasing number of people.”

    1. The choice to form a nonmarital relationship, such as the one-sexed arrangement — homosexual or not, is a liberty exercised, not a right denied.

    2. It may be understandable that some would formalize such a relationship but that can be done without touching marriage law. See designated beneficiaries. It is not unjust to discriminate on the basis of marital status.

    3. That you point to an increasing number of peoplemight think that this or that thing is fine, let alone favor the proposed merger of nonmarriage with marriage, points to a reliance on convention as the primary source of truth.

    Do you support convention — i.e. the argument from tradition?

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