Thursday, December 22, 2011

Eye of Newt. . .

Since Newt Gingrich seems to have become the latest to become the darling of the ABM (Anyone But Mitt) movement among the know-nothing Tea Party and “Evangelical” Christianist Republicans, let’s take an opportunity to skewer one of his latest platform statements – his response to the call by the WAcKO Iowa group, The FAMiLY LEADER

NEwT: To Bob Vander Plaats and the Executive Board of The FAMiLY LEADER: I appreciate the opportunity to affirm my strong support of the mission of the FAMiLY LEADER by solemnly vowing to defend and strengthen the family through the following actions I would take as President of the United States.

Defending Marriage.  As President, I will vigorously enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted under my leadership as Speaker of the House, and ensure compliance with its provisions, especially in the military. 

JP: The fact that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is really an assault on states’ rights, an assault on marriage, and actually does nothing to preserve and strengthen marriage, is lost on Newt.  DOMA is unconstitutional and likely to be held to be unconstitutional by the courts.

NEwT: I will also aggressively defend the constitutionality of DOMA in federal and state courts. 

JP: A waste of taxpayer dollars, to defend a law that should so obviously a violation of the Constitution to anyone who claims to be a constitutional scholar.

NEwT: I will support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification. 

JP: it’s so rare that constitutional amendments to take away rights are introduced.  The last one ushered in Prohibition. The constitutional Amendment we need to see is a reintroduction of the Equal Rights Amendment.  It is about time.

NEwT: I will also oppose any judicial, bureaucratic, or legislative effort to define marriage in any manner other than as between one man and one woman.  I will support all efforts to reform promptly any uneconomic or anti-marriage aspects of welfare and tax policy.  I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.

JP: Given Newt’s personal history, “personal fidelity to his spouse” in that “one man/one woman for life” scenario can only mean returning to the first wife he previously abandoned while whoring around with the second, and the third  he whored around with while still married to the second, and abandoning the later whores. But he is a whore himself who deserves the serial polygamy he *really* favors. His “one man and one woman”pledge should mean just that – not just serial polygamy, or “one man and one woman at a time.”  Oh, but wait, to his adopted Roman Catholic Church, Newt gets a pass, since neither of his earlier marriages are recognized by the pedophile-pandering priests (or any of the other more decent priests) in his Church as having been valid.  But don’t all these “Evangelical” Christianist types look at Roman Catholics as “papists” in sort of the same way they see Mormons as pagan idolators? Wouldn't that be especially true since he used to be a white Southern Baptist good ol' boy, and he actually converted to the papist cause?  Aren; these the same sort of people who objected to Al Smith and Jack Kennedy?

NEwT: Defending the Unborn.  I believe that life begins at conception. 

JP: He “believes.”  This is important. I will note that this belief that “life begins at conception” has absolutely nothing to do with the idea of when that life is entitled to be considered a human being.  Anyone who professes to be a bible-believing Christian and who does not accept the idea that the soul is intimately connected with *breathing* (i.e., the span of a human person’s ensoulment runs from first breath to last only.  Even under the English Common Law, which was rather bible-based in many ways, a baby that was born, but did not take a single breath, was not deemed to be a person, but was called stillborn.  No inheritance or inheritance rights would pass through such a non-entity. But Newt is one of those people who like the idea of granting full personhood status to inanimate corporations.  He would also likely consider the construction plans to be a home, and pans on regulating chicken eggs as if they were fully formed and once-breathing chickens.  But his "belief"is consistent with the kind of thing the Pope wants to impose on all Americans.

NEwT: On day one of my administration, I will sign an executive order reinstating Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City policy that prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions overseas. 

JP: That’s right, Newt “believes” and only his beliefs count. How he can say this, and then claim to defend “Religious Liberty” two points down from this one, is a conflicted position that can only be taken seriously by people who do not have the capacity to understand the fact that these principles are in opposition - such as anyone who might have signed Robbie George and Chuck Colson's bombshell of a Manhattan Declaration.    So Newt wants to take way from the religious freedom of women.  For Newt, women are a necessary inconvenience, and as an originalist on the Constitution, he believes that women should not be counted, and that African Americans should be returned to a state of involuntary servitude. (See his position on appointing "Originalist" judges!)

NEwT: I will also work with Congress to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood so that no taxpayer dollars are being used to fund abortions but rather transfer the money so it is used to promote adoption and other pro-family policies, and enact legislation that provides greater protections for the unborn.

JP: Even the English Common Law recognized that “the unborn” are not people.  So protecting the “unborn” means taking away the rights of women who are already born.  And so little of Planned Parenthoods budget goes to abortion,  Most of it goes to other reproductive health services.  I am sure that Newt would rather give taxpayer money to "religious" groups that discriminate against people they don't like.

NEwT: Defending Religious Liberty.  As President, I will vigorously defend the First Amendment’s rights of religious liberty and freedom of speech against anyone who would try to stifle the free expression of believers. 

JP: Newt wants to impose his religion in everyone, and then comes out with this? This is inconsistent with his policy on women’s reproductive rights. There are women who share my religious belief that is bible based, and consistent with the common law understanding that we are only human beings between first breath and last breath.  Our souls are intimately bound up in our breath – and literally, “spirit” and “breath” are the same thing.  So, why doesn't our religion count? Is it because Newt only believes that Religious freedom is for people who agree with him?

NEwT: I will also promote legislation that protects the right to conscience for healthcare workers so they are not compelled to perform abortions and other procedures that violate their religious teachings.

JP: how about the religious liberty of healthcare workers whose religious beliefs allow them to participate in assisting women in their reproductive health care.  I think that people who have a religious objection to performing their jobs should find another line of work.

NEwT: Defending Against Debt.  As President, I will undertake vigorous policies to maximize capital investment and job creation, along with common sense entitlement reforms, to dramatically turn around the nation’s fiscal situation. 

JP: This is meaningless drivel.  Newt has every intention to line the pockets of fat cats at the expense of the people.  He already intends to scuttle child labor laws.

NEwT: Building upon the same principles I championed during my four years as Speaker, when we reduced the national debt by over $400 billion and dramatically reduced the national debt as a percentage of the GDP, we will reduce the enormous burden upon American families of the public debt and unfunded liabilities.

JP: Newt is infamous for being the huckster who designed the program one can only call “The Contract On America” - The only way to fairly accomplish the goal he seeks  is to stop the insane defense spending and end the wars.  It is a well-known principle since the Vietnam war that America  can’t afford to have Guns *AND* Butter. 

NEwT: Defending the Right of the People to Rule Themselves.  Today, as federal courts have intervened in sectors of American life never before imaginable, including the intervention in the definition of marriage as well as when unborn life can be protected under the Constitution, the public has increasingly come to view them as an usurpative device for unelected rulers. 

JP: The real activist judges have ruled that fictitious corporate “people” have the same rights as human beings – the next step is to give corporate entities perpetual voting rights.  And the slippery slope will be to give Republican-built robots voting rights (something that they apparently have tried clandestinely in Ohio, with the apparent voting rights of voting machines there).  The courts actually exist to protect the *individual* people against the tyranny of the majority – a job they don’t do terribly well because of conservative activism from the bench

NEwT: This abuse of power and loss of public confidence amounts to a constitutional crisis.  I believe the executive and legislative branches each have an independent responsibility to interpret the Constitution,

JP: That is true, within their parameters, but the SCOTUS has the final say on constitutionality.

NEwT: and in those rare circumstances when they believe the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have engaged in a serious constitutional error, they can choose among an array of constitutional powers to check and balance the courts. 

JP: The “check and balance” on the SCOTUS is the constitutional amendment process.  Is Newt an ass, or what?  Since he is a self-proclaimed constitutional scholar, doesn’t he actually know this?

NEwT:  As President, I will nominate for federal judgeships, including justices of the Supreme Court, only those individuals who are committed to an originalist understanding of the Constitution.  Judges with an originalist understanding will subordinate themselves to the meaning of the Constitution as it was intended by the framers, and not substitute their own judgments about its meaning. 

JP: Originalism is an error.  Times have changed, and I expect a SCOTUS and federal judges who are more civilized than their predecessors, and more civilized than the Founders, who believed in slavery, and in the oppression of women.  Newt is saying tight here that he wants to roll back the interpretation of the Constitution to a point prior to 1870.

NEwT: The inherent judicial self-restraint that comes from an originalist approach to the Constitution offers the best long-term assurance that federal judges will not exceed their powers and trample on individual liberties.  I will also work with Congress to use the Constitutional means available to reassert the right of the elected branches of government to defend their understanding of the meaning of the Constitution, including limiting the jurisdiction of the federal courts to decide on certain issues, when they believe the federal courts have engaged in a serious constitutional error.

JP:  I think that Newt treads on dangerous ground here.  While the courts have traditionally been a drag on progressivism, on occasion they lurch toward civilization.  Newt would kill that, and insure that the tyranny of the majority can crush individual rights for people who don’t fit into the majority.  Newt is a dangerous demagogue, and a threat to the republic, as dangerous as a mad dog I the streets.  If he were to be elected to the presidency, I would fear for the survival of the nation.  Gingrich, the Gingrinch, would steal the childhood from children, freedom from women, and human rights from LGBT people.

NEwT: Sincerely, Newt Gingrich

JP: Newt is *anything* but sincere.  He is a liar, a cheater, an adulterer, a miserable excuse for a human being, and he has a problem with the meaning of words.  His answer to charges of influence peddling was that he was not a “lobbyist.”  This fuzzy definition thing  is exactly the same kind of thing that he ha the House impeach Bill Clinton for exhibiting  – Clinton was technically truthful when he said that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  Because what Clinton meant by “sexual relations” was limited to a particular act that he didn’t actually perform.  So Gingrich technically tells the truth when he says he was not a “lobbyist” but there are other aspects of influence peddling that he had his hand in once he was gone from Congress.  Newt’s hands are stained and unclean. None of the Republican candidates for President are qualified for the job, but Newt has shown himself to be less qualified than Michele Bachmann.  He is already committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” under his own definition of the term, well before getting the nomination, much less taking office.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Yet another Cissexist bisexual or “political lesbian” Radfem gets it wrong

Over on Facebook, my friend Zoe Brain pointed out an interesting but sad article this morning.

Someone named Bev Jo, as a “guest” columnist on the anti-trans Gender Trender blog, writes an essay entitled  Fighting the "Lie" of Trans, which summarizes everything that’s wrong with the cissexist POV on trans people adopted by many radfems based on the patriarchist birth-genital-essentialist position of the Roman Catholic Church, imported into radfem philosophy by the false spinnings of the twice-born Athenas, Catholic college-based professors, Mary Daly and her empire-building protégé, Jan Raymond.

On Facebook, while riding on the commuter train this morning, I summarized a response as follows:

The only time I ever lied about myself was when I was trying to assimilate in accordance with societal expectations. All the writer is doing is showing a particularly malicious, clueless, institutionalized pseudo-patriarchist cissexist POV no different from the cissexist birth genital essentialiam brought into Radfem philosophy by Catholic college professors, twice-born Athena fembots Daly and Raymond, who corrupted Radfem philosophy from the inside.

But sitting at the computer in my office after work, I decided to read and analyze Bev Jo's article a little more deeply.  I have just started reading Mary Daly's book Gyn/Ecology in an effort to better understand why Radfem philosophy took a cissexist turn, beyond the surmise that I've made based on my exposure to the writings of Daly's protégé Raymond.

Right in the beginning, Bev Jo tells us she is a Lesbian, and then proves she can’t be one!

She parenthetically claims

“Who women choose to love is a choice, not something as trivial as ‘sexual orientation.’”
That is a statement that can only be made by

(a) a woman with a bisexual sexual orientation who has a natural orientation that allows for such a choice, and who chooses to suppress her heterosexual side, or

(b) a woman whose natural sexual orientation is actually heterosexual, but who is so wrapped up in radfem philosophy that she rejects her natural orientation, suppresses it, and “chooses” to assimilate – for such as make that “choice,” the choice itself can be a cause for psychological imbalances.

So I don’t know what Bev Jo’s sexual orientation is, but she proves by her own words that she herself has no place in lesbian space, except perhaps to the extent that bisexual women are welcome.

So, having appropriated the identity of a Lesbian, she proceeds to assume the patriarchal authority to exclude others who have more right to Lesbian space than she herself does. This pseudo-patriarchy is not new, it has been a hallmark of Radfem cissexist thought since even before Mary Daly wrote her metaethics book Gyn/Ecology.

If anyone has made “death threats,” they are responsible for their own behavior. There is no excuse for oppressed trans women to make futile death threats against their oppressors. I am aware of an unfortunate use of violent imagery in a Facebook conversation by two trans advocates who should know better, but I am not aware of any actual death threats.

Bev then asks a rhetorical question about women’s reactions to “men claiming to be women.” I can only ask a counter-question – where are the men who are claiming to be women? I am a woman, I am a lesbian, and I was erroneously assigned male at birth, but I am not and never was a man, even though I spent years trying to live a lie and assimilate with societal expectations based on that erroneous assignment.

Bev Jo does not have a right to call me a man. I have more of a right to deny her right to call herself a lesbian, because he own words indicate that she cannot possibly be a real lesbian.

Bev Jo in her essay shows her amazingly incredible ignorance about transsexual women. She certainly has never met me, and it seems clear to me that she has never actually met a real trans woman. If the story she tells about her “stalker” is not made up, the person she describes does not fit within the parameters of being a trans woman.

She also does not seem to understand what it is like to be a girl, growing up in a situation where everyone expects you to be a boy. Unfortunately, those of us who have had that experience resent it when someone else takes our narratives and distorts them. I have already had the dubious “honor” of being quoted more than once on the “mansplainin’ transplainin’” site. One of those quotes was an explanation of how I felt when I was four years old in the 1950’s, from the perspective of being a four-year old. The people who run that site thought that my simple child’s-eye view of the differences between boys and girls, and my realization that I was being told I was with the wrong group, was quite amusing. I am sure they enjoy their cruel little laugh at my expense.

When Bev Jo describes how some women look (referring to them as “female impersonators”) she does not realize that there are many trans women who don’t need artifice. It would seem that she gets her ideas about what trans women are like by poring over the writings of the notorious Opus Dei psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh, an eating disorders specialist who advised the Vatican abut trans issues. Her description is almost exactly what McHugh wrote:

McHugh wrote in a 2004 article entitled “Surgical Sex” in First Things:

“The post-surgical subjects struck me as caricatures of women. They wore high heels, copious makeup, and flamboyant clothing;”

Bev Jo writes similarly:

“they look like drag queens with their heavy, ugly makeup, plucked unnatural eyebrows, garish costumes, etc.”

Bev Jo’s apparent reliance on yet another patriarchist source like McHugh is more evidence of the nefarious influence the Roman Catholic Church has exerted on radfem philosophy.

Bev Jo rejects those of us who have surgery, and she rejects those of us who do not or cannot have surgery as well.

Bev Jo has apparently not been exposed to the mass of scientific evidence that shows that trans women are not, and never were, men, regardless of whether we have GRS.

Bev Jo has shown herself by her words to be an agent of the patriarchy.

She even writes. “It’s a basic weapon of patriarchy to divide women.” And then she proceeds to do just that – making sure that there continues to be a barrier between cissexual women and transsexual women.

I know who I am. I know that the scientific research backs me up. I have developed self-confidence. I am a woman, I am a lesbian, and no pseudo-patriarchist cissexist radfem is going to steal my identity, just because they themselves don;t know what a woman is.

You’ll note I am not using the term “transphobia.” The better terms to use are “cissexist” and “cissexism.” The relationship, particularly that of the institutionalized variety cause by a lack of understanding of trans lives, is eerily similar to institutionalized racism – and just as white people have to work very hard to see institutionalized racism, cissexual people have to look very hard to see the institutiopnalized cissexism that permeates the society.

If not by virtue of being cissexist, how is it that the Roman Catholic Church and the Radfem philosophers are so totally aligned on the issue of trans women?

One thing Bev Jo gets right – the alliance between some Radfems and their fellow separatist TS separatists, is still a variety of cissexism. Just as radfem philosophy as it relates to trans women is pseudo-patriarchist, the position of TS separatists is a pseudo-cissexist imitation of the radfem position, which makes it pseudo-pseudo-patriarchist. The willingness of the TS separatists to oppress other trans women as a means to gain entry for themselves into radfem circles, is pretty disgusting.

Bev Jo wants to organize het women to join with radfems. Um, that strategy is probably a non-starter – particularly with what Bev Jo already wrote in the beginning of her article about straight and bisexual women.

One would think that women – all women, straight, bi, asexual and lesbian, cissexual and transsexual, ought to be able to get along.

Why should Bev Jo be strategizing at marginalizing the most marginalized women, just because we are different and not cissexual?

Bev Jo should know that the National organization for Women already supports trans women – maybe she should get a clue from them.

As to being in opposition to NAMBLA, I am surprised that is an issue. Even the gay men I know are condemnatory of NAMBLA, why should women hesitate to condemn child abuse?

Well, when we get to Bev Jo’s conclusion – even RuPaul would acknowledge that female impersonators are not women. But RuPaul identifies as a gay man, even though he does costume very well. RuPaul is not a trans woman. I doubt that RuPaul would want to be called a trans woman or a transsexual, or a transgender person.

On the other hand, if one were to watch the RuPaul Drag Race show, some of the people who work as “drag performers” actually *are* trans women – and while they are involved in drag culture they are often working toward transition.

It may be hard to tell the difference by looking at them, and Bev Jo has already shown that she can't tell the difference, but all anyone has to do is ask.

So, when Bev Jo asks for lesbians to put females and lesbians first, she should be inclusive of trans women who are lesbians.  The fact that she isn't?  That is very, very sad.

But when you start with false premises, as Bev Jo does, it is really difficult to come to a correct conclusion.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Archbishop Dolan’s “Timmy One-Note” Afterthoughts on Marriage

I have to say it: New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan is no John the Baptist. If he were, he’d be telling his superiors in the Vatican hierarchy the truth about marriage, and he’d likely lose his job, but not his head.

Instead, he continues to play it safe in his quest for his cardinal’s red hat.

In his July 7, 2011 blog essay, entitled Some Afterthoughts, he refers to the historic passage of the Marriage Equality Act as New York State having “sadly attempted a re-definition of marriage.” But the Act was no attempt to “redefine” marriage, but rather involved an extension of connubium, which is “the right to marry” so that it is applied on a gender-neutral basis, in addition to the enactment of certain “religious protections” to insure that it is clear on the face of the legislation that those religions with faiths based in misogyny, patriarchy, and heterosexist supremacy, may continue to limit the marriages they sacramentalize and celebrate to those that they do allow.

It is interesting that he says, “the Church neither has nor wants political ‘clout.’” That is actually refreshing, since it is likely to be an indication that Archbishop Dolan does not plan to order priests in the archdiocese to refuse communion to Governor Cuomo and Catholic legislators who voted for the bill as retribution for their not following the Church’s party line.

The archbishop expressed concern about the religious protections, referring to, but not citing any, “editorials already call(ing) for the removal of guarantees of religious liberty.” I’d really like some credible evidence of this.

Dolan goes on to accuse pro-marriage equality forces of religious intolerance – the case where the bully accuses his victim!

He refers to his side as “those protecting traditional marriage” as if the proponents of the gender-neutral connubium are in some way against traditional marriage. We are not.

There are many LGBT people who have suffered persecution at the hands of the Church and other so-called “Christian” Christianist organizations. I do not blame them for their issues with the opponents of marriage equality, or their form of expression of their reaction to having been bullied by people like Dolan.

I myself will point out that Archbishop Dolan is a heresiarch, and that he really is not a Christian but is rather a Christianist, as is the rest of the Roman Catholic Magisterium. In a credal sense, the RCC hierarchy is nearly as true Christian as the Orthodox Christians who did not add a filioque to the original Nicene Creed. But in a doctrinal sense, as it pertains to moral theology, the Roman Catholic Magisterium is deeply in error because of its teachings in opposition to true natural law (as opposed to the Aristotelian conception of nature brought in by Aquinas), and because of the many Church Fathers whose writings were misogynistic and heterosexist. The Church’s interpretations of biblical passages related to LGBT people is rooted in misogynistic heterosexism, and are among the things that are the cause of error. (I won’t get into matters of faith, since I have evolved theologically since the Catholic Church threw me out in 1999, to the extent that I am now Unitarian/Universalist – so I am not Christian myself, in a credal sense, any more).

Archbishop Dolan apologizes, and I will share that apology here:

“. . . if we did hurt anybody in our defense of marriage, I apologize. We tried our best to insist from the start that our goal was pro-marriage, never anti-gay. But, I’m afraid some within the gay community were offended. As I replied recently to a reporter who asked if I had any message to the gay community, ‘Yes: I love you. Each morning I pray with and for you and your true happiness and well-being. I am honored that so many of you are at home within our Catholic family, where, like the rest of us, we try, with the help of God’s grace and mercy, to conform our lives to Jesus and His message. If I have offended any of you in my strenuous defense of marriage, I apologize, and assure you it was unintentional.”
I will accept that the apology is sincerely intended, but if only Dolan understood what it is that he, and the Church, are doing, I think he would want to rethink his position. (Certainly, casting his position as a “defense of marriage” is still an error.)

I could start with the schizophrenic passages in the Official Catechism of the Catholic Church, in which homosexual “activity” can never be “condoned” while homosexual people are to be “respected” and that there should be no discrimination against them. While Dolan is not responsible for the schizophrenia, he should interpret it in a more humane manner.

The tension between respect and condonation is thick – and the Church hierarchy often steers a course that can only be understood within the context of this tension – it is what allows Catholic organization leaders to refuse to allow a student group that has the word “gay” in it, but to permit the group without the name. I often find myself explaining (but not justifying) such actions on the basis of this.

From what I can tell, the Church Magisterium’s vehement opposition to even civil marriage rights is rooted in the “condonation” thing, even though I think that is a very wrong interpretation. The Church should be outside the civil marriage loop – it should be concerned solely with the sacrament of matrimony for Catholics. The opposition to civil marriage smacks of discrimination, and should be seen as against the Catechism. The problem is that the insane ravings from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the topic ties Dolan’s hands, so that in order to come across with the official party line of the Vatican, he has to make himself seem to be a fool (But, I am sure he might rejoin with, “but only a Fool for Christ!” or at least “only a fool in a quest for the red hat!” were he to read this essay)

Archbishop Dolan does not understand that we who support civil marriage rights being legally extended on a gender-neutral basis know that this does not have a single negative effect on the traditional marriage. There is a difference between connubium and matrimonium; while conjugal aspects of human reproduction through heterosexual sex acts are integral to many traditional marriages, they are not integral to all of them, and there are children integral to many same-sex couples’ lives.

Archbishop Dolan was in New York when New York adopted a no-fault divorce law just last year. He refers to the Church opposing no-fault divorce “sixty years ago.” Where was he last year, when the National Organization for Women was fighting valiantly in a losing effort to prevent New York from being the last state to adopt no fault divorce? I see nothing in his blog essays from 2010 that indicate that he was railing to stop the no-fault divorce law at that time.

There are many areas of the marriage “fight” where I could join with Archbishop Dolan. There are aspects of my 45 years as a practicing Catholic that still remain important to me, and aspects of Catholic morality that are not evil. The principles of monogamy and fidelity within marriage are sound. The idea that divorce should be limited to adultery and spousal abuse is one that I could support – I never understood the idea of “until death do us part” as meaning “or until we get tired of each other.”

I wonder what Archbishop Dolan would do about the thing that damaged marriage the most in the past century – the abolition of the common law regarding “bastardy and filiation.” This single legal change meant that women who would refuse a man carnal knowledge until “the ring is on the finger” because of the consequences to he and to any child, are now allowed to scheme on how to get celebrities and sports figures to get them pregnant out of wedlock so they can bring on the paternity suit. (One change I would make to the common law, though, is that it should not be the child who should be labeled as a “bastard,” but the man who was the “carnal sperm donor.”)

To my knowledge, while Republican Catholic and other Christianist legislators in New York State fought hard to include “religious protections” against gender-neutral connubium, there has never been any attempt by the Catholic Church or other Christianists to exempt Catholic marriages, or marriages performed in Christianist churches, from “no fault” divorce laws. While it is true that the Church maintains rigorous control over the granting of Church annulments, the canon law has been changed in such a way as to make it possible for just about any Catholic marriage to be annulled on the grounds that the parties were not really ready to be married at the time they were wed.

In addition to the above, there is much else to give the lie to how “the Church has always stood up for (its understanding of) marriage.” Yes, within the confines of spiritually guiding Catholics, but not to interfere with the civil laws – except for this time.

Where are the religious protections in the civil law against civil divorce involving Catholic marriages? I am sure that the LDS would join in to protect one of their forms of marriage, and the fundamentalist Christianists would support a civil “covenant marriage” concept that would be more difficult to end than the usual, run of the mill, marriage.

Here’s a quote that has me in partial agreement:

“And now we ring the steeple bell again at this latest dilution of the authentic understanding of marriage, worried that the next step will be another redefinition to justify multiple partners and infidelity. If you think I’m exaggerating, within days of the passage of this bill, one major newspaper ran a flattering profile of a proponent of what was called ‘nonmonogamy.’ Apparently, ‘nonmonogamy’ is the idea that society is unrealistic to think that one man and one woman should remain faithful in marriage, and that openness to some infidelity should be the norm!”
I think the Archbishop is referring to the New York Times Magazine article on infidelity that prominently featured Dan Savage, which caused some interesting conversation over at the Joe.My.God. blog, entitled "Homoquotable - Dan Savage" (Is this the "editorial" he was writing about earlier? - if so, it's not an editorial, but is rather a magazine article, and Dan Savage was perhaps tryig to be practical rather than theological.)

Marital infidelity  is something that should not be legally condoned, or condoned by the Church. However, I would not push my moral position beyond that. The law against adultery and the adultery ground for divorce already contains defenses for both condonation and procurement. So, in the situation where both parties to the marriage enter into the marriage with the agreed intention of condonation or even procurement, I’d hesitate to be a moral judge. (With the "no fault divorce" law, they could get divorced anyway, but what if that were to change and divorce became more difficult to get without a legitimate reason?)

To speak against the practice, to advise against it, yes. To forbid it, no. People should be allowed make their own personal moral choices, though there should be guidance available for those who want it.  I would not change the law with regard to marriage to eliminate adultery as a ground for divorce, or to remove the defenses.

On the issue of multiparty marriages, that, too, is one that requires more examination. The state should provide a legal structure for various kinds of multiparty marriages (much as it allows various different kinds of business entities), all of which would require the up-front consent of all parties in advance, and all parties would have to be competent adults who freely and willingly enter into the arrangement with full knowledge and understanding and without any coercion. Ideally, each party should be required to be represented by an independent attorney as well, since it is not likely that most people would fully understand the various ramifications of such a marriage.

As I have pointed out in the past, the Catholic Church itself has examples of forms of multiparty marriage, albeit marriage-like family structures that do not require sexual congress among the parties – these are the various religious orders of priests, nuns, monks, lay brothers and sisters, particularly evident in those who live in religious communities, such as monasteries or convents.  In some ways, these are marriage-like structures modeled on the natural law relating to certain insect colonies and other creatures.

If Archbishop Dolan were pro-marriage, he’d be for both gender-neutral connubium and a framework for multiparty civil marriage that would protect all parties.  But he isn't - he is just pro one kind of marriage, and against other kinds.

Dolan’s blog post shills a bit for Robbie George. I have demolished some of Robbie’s writings in earlier blog essays –it would be a pleasure to do it again.

Dolan frustratingly holds “fast to the God-given definition of marriage, and acknowledge that no unfortunate legislative attempt can alter reality and morality.”

It’s interesting that in this, Dolan himself, like his mentor Robbie George, is retreating from reality in his inability to understand gender-neutral connubium as not affecting traditional marriage at all. He is retreating from morality by what I would call an institutionalized heterosexist blindness. It’s sad, really, that he does not understand that the misogynistic, heterosexist supremacist position of the Church is one which has no basis in Truth.  Heterosexist supremacism can be understood by an analogy to white racist supremacism - which I would assume is a concept the archbishop can readily grasp.  The idea that opposite-sex couples are superior to same sex couples, and that their legally sanctioned relationships should be better than those of same sex couples, that opposite sex couples have a relief valve for their natural sexual urges by way of a sanctioned moral marriage right, but that no same sex couple can have such a legal or moral outlet, is rooted in the same sort of thinking that led white supremacists to believe in the moral superiorityof the white race, that it is the pinnacle of evolution, and that the black race is destined by the Bible to be the chattel slaves of the white race, because they are the descendants of Canaan, and all the other arrant nonsense that goes witth the racial  bigotry of white supremacists.

Archbishop Dolan would have to be blind to be unable to make the connection.  He could try to rationalize the different kinds of -isms as having some sort of moral difference - but it would be just like turning to the Bible and retelling the story of the children of Ham to justify slavery.

Even so - he really likes his job, and he really wants that cardinal's hat.  Even if we could provoke a crisis of personal conscience in him, he would likely push it deep below his conscious thought, lest he run off the rails on his trajectory to a princedom in the Catholic hierarchy.

He started his essay with John the Baptist, and ended his article with Thomas More, both of whom quite literally lost their heads, while Dolan himself only loses his rationality and moral compass on the subject of marriage (to be fair, he does it on women's reproductive rights as well - but that's the misogyny again).

Thomas More was a brilliant man, but he was also a creature of his times. Neither the admittedly erudite but misguided Robbie George nor Archbishop Dolan can hide behind that fig leaf.  They live in a world where they have access to sufficient rational knowledge to change their views - unfortunately, the availability of Rational Truth may well not be efficacious in their cases.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Marriage and the Arrogant Heterosexist Supremacist

Robert P. George, from Princeton University
Now that we have disposed of the December 2010 propaganda article co-authored by Robbie George, let’s turn to Robbie’s thoughts on marriage in New York, Sex and the Empire State, which seems to be either a play on Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl or the more recent television and silver screen series, Sex and the City.  We’ll leave the origin of the “Sex and the. . . “  formula title to the students of the lingual arts.

Remember, the interview is in National Review, which is a conservative magazine with pretensions of the sort of lofty intellectual-seeming snobbery usually reviled by more bread-and-butter conservatives as an effete liberal trait.

So one can understand the article's introduction that indicates that Governor Cuomo “rewrote” the meaning of marriage when he signed the Marriage Equality Act last week.  Of course, the meaning of marriage has been rewritten in the New York Domestic Relations Law and its predecessors many, many times.  All this last “redefinition” accomplished was to complete the process pursuant to which the marriage laws of the State of New York have become fully gender neutral in their application.  The last step was to extend connubium – the right to marry – to persons of full age and sound mind regardless of the gender of their intended spouse.

In the interview, Robbie comes out swinging, referring to this simple vote on connubium as a matter rooted in the loosening of sexual ethics.

Pray tell, Robbie, how does the extension of the civil rights, responsibilities, privileges and obligations of marriage on a gender-neutral basis have anything to do with loosening any sexual ethics?  Indeed, this new law involves a re-affirmation by the State of New York of the dignity and favor placed on the institution of marriage as the basic unit of family formation and as the bedrock of stability in society.

One would think that advocates of marriage would leap with joy at the idea that persons with a homosexual orientation would no longer be denied the connubium with a spouse of the same gender.  The extension of marriage rights on a gender-neutral basis is morally neutral as to the rights of opposite-sex couples, and a moral good to same-sex couples previously denied the rights.

Robbie accuses Kinsey of being a liar and a fraud, accusations that if one merely reads the Manhattan Declaration that Robbie co-authored, one would know could be fairly lodged at himself.

 It’s interesting that Robbie seems to associate gender-neutral marriage with “sexual freedom” – when marriage itself provides legal limitations on sexual freedom.  One should suppose that society should discourage licentious behavior among those with a same-sex orientation quite as much as it discourages licentious behavior on the part of opposite-sex oriented people.

Robbie asserts that with this “sexual freedom” thing, that

“marriage simply cannot function as the central principle or standard of rectitude in sexual conduct, as it has in Western philosophy, theology, and law for centuries.”

The simple act of enlarging the range of connubium on a gender neutral basis doesn’t have a basis in any “sexual freedom” thing, so Robbie can rest easy.  But no.  Here is his central argument:

“The idea that sexual intercourse (the behavioral component of reproduction) consummates and actualizes marriage as a one-flesh union of sexually complementary spouses naturally ordered to the good of procreation loses its force and even its sense.”

Perhaps that idea was a misdirection in any case.  For Robbie, it seems, it’s all and seemingly only, about f-cking, and not just f-cking, but only heterosexual f-cking.

Robbie’s randy idea still works within the context of opposite-sex marriages.  But just as opposite sex marriage can exist in situations in which there is “one flesh” but not “one soul,” it is possible for same sex marriages to be situations in which there is “one soul” and where the “one flesh” aspect just does not happen to be procreative.

 That is not a tremendous leap, and if the examples of Canada, Massachusetts and other places where the right to marry has been made gender-neutral, Western society is not about to collapse because of this.

Perhaps Robbie should focus more on sexual liberationists and leave LGBT people alone.

As I pointed out in my last essay, Robbie’s next argument is false, as well.  Proponents of making civil marriage gender neutral are not against “traditional marriage” at all.  What we are opposed to are those who use “traditional marriage” as a means to enforce heterosexist supremacy, and who by their arrogant position seek to deny extending connubium on a grender neutral basis.

It’s not traditional marriage that is bigoted, it’s the heterosexist supremacist position that LGBT people are not as good as straights that is ignorant, intolerant, bigoted and immoral.

Heterosexual is good.  Heterosexist is bad.  There is a difference, Robbie, and if you can discern the difference you will be going a long way toward reducing the level of internalized and institutionalized heterosexism and cissexism.

The root of Robbie’s sexual ethics is misogyny and patriarchal dominance.  The idea that women are lesser beings who should have less rights has been deeply engraved in Western Culture until more enlightened and civilized times.  Western society once tolerated serfdom and chattel slavery, but we have become more civilized over time, and these cultural appendages are no longer tolerated.   

Robbie’s worries about multiple-party marriages are premature.  The legal structure to define, support and govern two-party marriages are already there.  With the gender-neutralization of all aspects of marriage with the single exception of connubium, the extension of marriage rights to same sex couples is an easy thing to do.

Getting to the point where multiple party marriages will be possible will take a great deal of effort.  If Robbie is interested in getting this done right, rather than willy-nilly, perhaps he could start a call for legal and sociological experts to put together a model statute that would cover the mutual rights and respobsibilities of multiparty marriages.  Commencement and dissolution issues would be much more complicated in these marriages, and of course, the safety and care of children should be a paramount interest to the parties and to the society.

So let’s not bring in multiparty marriages to the discussion, we're not there yet!  But alas, Robbie doesn’t seem to understand that society hasn’t got anything put together that would support such a structure. 

I am aware that polygynous polygamy is an easy adaptation, but that kind of multiparty marriage is only a standard traditional patriarchal marriage on Viagra.  The practice of splinter Mormon sects is more of a warning of the wrong way to do it than it is an example of what should be done.

When Robbie refers to New York as being “one of the most socially liberal states in the Union,” he seems to have forgotten that there is more to New York State than New York City, and once one gets beyond Westchester and Rockland counties, the social conservatism is so thick one can cut it with a knife.

It isn’t sexual liberationist ideology that is at work in the drive to marriage equality on a gender-neutral basis, yet Robbie keeps playing that line in the hope that if he repeats it often enough, people will believe it.  Well, Robbie is barking up the wrong tree.

Robbie thinks that the extension of connubium on a gender neutral basis has “abolished marriage” and “replaced it with a counterfeit.” 

All Robbie is doing here is histrionically raving heterosexist themes.  The fact that Robbie cannot see that only one thing has changed in the law – two, if one counts the “religious protections” that were put in place to insure that the Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus don’t have to sacramentalize same-sex weddings or allow the receptions in their halls. (The religious protections are broader than that – all a church has to do is say that racial mixing is against their religious principles, and presto, the Masons don’t have to allow a racially-mixed marriage reception in their halls, either.

For Robbie’s heterosexist notion, marriage is not a marriage without heterosexual f-cking.  And if that isn’t a limitation placed on the institution, he would just take his balls and bat and go home.

Without heterosexual f-cking, to Robbie, with this “counterfeit” marriage:

“there is no intelligible basis in them for the norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence that structure and help to define marriage as historically understood in our law and culture.”

That, of course, is the purest heterosexist hogwash.  Whatever was in the New York Domestic Relations Law as it related to monogamy, exclusivity and fidelity, etc, that was there immediately before the Marriage Equality Act, is still there afterward.

As to permanence, that is a point to which Robbie’s Roman Catholic Church only gives lip service.  Its canon law makes the obtaining of an annulment incredibly easy these days, and the grounds have been made such that virtually any Catholic marriage can be nullified on the basis of the parties’ allegation that at the time they got married, they were not truly ready to get married.  If we are going to agree with Robbie that permanence is a mark of marriage, then be forwarned, no Roman Catholic marriage is a true marriage either.

New York was the last state in the United States to allow true “no-fault” divorce.  New York already allows serial polygamy, the parties do so one spouse at a time.  With the no-fault divorce, it’s so much easier to change partners.  And it was this way even before the connubium was extended on a gender-neutral basis.

If Robbie was concerned about the state of marriage, his concentration on heterosexist concerns meant that he did little or nothing to oppose “no-fault” fivorce.

For that matter, what has Robbie done about restoring the common law law of bastardy, pursuant to which no child born outside a marriage has any inheritance rights or rights of support from the sperm provider, unless the sperm provider voluntarily filiated himself to the child.  The abolition of these laws in the 1950’s was perhaps the single largest blow to the institution of marriage.  Women who had previously refused to allow sexual congress to a man unless and until “the ring is on the finger” within a few years were throwing themselves at rock stars and sports figures in the hopes that a child would be produced, and the paternity suit would follow.

That is what heterosexists have already done to marriage.  Robbie cannot blame LGBT people for the failings of heterosexuals.  But he does.

I am all for monogamy, exclusivity and yes, even permanence, though with the last, there must be a way out of a truly abusive marriage short of ending the life of the abusive spouse.

Robbie’s idea that mothers, children and the poor are harmed by same sex marriage is ludicrous.  The fact is that in New York alone, there are tens of thousands of children in poor black and latina lesbian families who will be immeasurably helped by the marriage equality act.  For Robbie, though, the inconvenient facts just get in the way.

Robbie says:

“Of course, among the activists and leaders of the movement to redefine marriage, it is already difficult to find anyone who believes that same-sex marriages demand as a matter of moral obligation sexual exclusivity.”

 Well, Robbie, here I am.  Though I don’t refer to the marriage equality movement as “redefining marriage,” all I think of it as doing is making connubium fair to LGBT people.

What Robbie should be doing, rather than opposing gender-neutral  connubium, is to preach the principles of “monogamy, exclusivity and permanence” as hallmarks of a moral marriage.  I would be happy to join him in that.

The harm happens when same-sex couples are not granted the connubium.  There was a time when marriage laws created unequal marriage rights that had a basis in the gender of the spouse.  Wives had one set of rights (and at some times, no rights), while the husbands had a completely different set.  The idea of two husbands or two wives was virtually inconceivable from a legal standpoint.  With different appurtenant rights and responsibilities, people ith a same-sex orientation developed what Robbie would disdainfully refer to as “alternate lifestyles.”  Having been denied the right to marry, many turned their backs on the institution and all of its trappings.  I am of the opinion that with the availability of marriage, the next generation of same-sex-oriented people can be integrated into the society much better.  The preachers and the priests should think of how to reach them with moral messages of “monogamy, exclusivity and permanence.”

One of the useful bits I adapted from Paragraphs 24 and 25 of Casti Conubii in an earlier essay bears repeating here

24. This mutual molding of [husband and wife] spouses, this determined effort to perfect each other, can in a very real sense, as the Roman Catechism teaches, be said to be the chief reason and purpose of matrimony, provided matrimony be looked at not in the restricted sense as instituted for the proper conception and education of the child, but more widely as the blending of life as a whole and the mutual interchange and sharing thereof.

25. By this same love it is necessary that all the other rights and duties of the marriage state be regulated as [the words of the Apostle: "Let the husband render the debt to the wife, and the wife also in like manner to the husband,"] not just a 50-50 proposition, but as each spouse giving 100% to the other, to express not only a law of justice but of charity.

NOTE: [Bracketed] portions to be deleted, Italicized portions are my gender-neutral replacements.
There was also an earlier encyclical, Pope Leo XIII’s Arcanum from 1880, that also dealt with Catholic marriage,  While it’s aimed at Catholics, I’ve adapted a little piece of it to illustrate a message drawing to other religious traditions as well:

In the story from the Biblical book of Genesis, God, who had created the original Adam in God’s own image and likeness as male and female, proceeded to divide Adam into two people so that the human person would not be alone.  The Greeks contribute to our understanding of this unitive nature of human beings, a story, from Plato’s Symposium, about how human beings were first created in combined pairs, male-and-male, and female-and-female, as well as in the form of male-and-female from the Genesis story.  In the Biblical First Book of Samuel, we read of the love between David and Jonathan being so great that they become “one soul.”
From the Gospel we see clearly that this doctrine was declared and openly confirmed by the divine authority of Jesus Christ Yeshua, son of Miriam. He bore witness to the Jews and to His Apostles that marriage, from its institution, should exist between two only, that is, between one man and one woman; that of two they are made, so to say, one flesh; and that the marriage bond is by the will of God so closely and strongly made fast that no man may dissolve it or render it asunder. "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder."  And Yeshua never said a word against marriage as being between men, or between women, and thus, while the conjugal “becoming one flesh” is representative of the generative power of marriage between a man and a woman, we must not forget that becoming “one soul” as did David and Jonathan is the form of marriage appropriate to those with a same-sex orientation. 

One thing I might hasten to note, about the “let no man put asunder” part, is that at the time that Yeshua walked on earth, divorce was something only the husband could obtain, and it was incredibly easy,  All he had to do was say out loud, three times, “I divorce you.”  And that was it, the wife had to leave, the husband kept all the children, and it was a very, very patriarchist, misogynist and sexist process. No wonder Yeshua spoke so strongly against the abuse as a part of his messahe of social justice,

Same sex marriage, while it was enjoyed by David and Jonathan, was not something that was available during Yeshua’s life, or for most of history.  Western civilization only became civilized enough to abolish chattel slavery in the 19th century, and to gradually improve the legal rights of women and minorities.  Only in the 21st century have western societies become civilized enough to extend connubium on a gender-neutral basis.

When it comes to divorce, it makes sense to recognize that it is a solution best left to last resort.  But when there is an abusive relationship, or one spouse has broken the marriage vow by way of marital infidelity, divorce should be an available option, but marriage should not be terminated by a court except for grave cause.  Is no-fault divorce somehow “more civilized?”  I doubt it.  But Robbie and his friends at NOM are so focused by the blindness caused by a heterosexist supremacist mindset, and have devoted millions of dollars and tons of hours fighting against justice, when there are real moral battles to fight that they have not addressed.

Robbie gives the credit for the Marriage Equality Act to the Republican-controlled New York State Senate (though from his perspective, it’s an allocation of blame).

What happened in New York does not damage marriage, it gives marriage the biggest boost it has ever had.

One can only hope that the marriage vote in New York can help the U.S. Supreme Court in making a decision in the Prop 8 case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

On the third page of the online article, Robbie does address the idea of divorce, and he identifies no-fault divorce as marriage’s equivalent of Roe v. Wade.  This is surprising, since the National organization for Women fought very hard against no-fault divorce in New York, a fight in which both Archbishop Dolan and Robbie George were silent or nearly so.

Robbie believes that the anti-marriage position of his NOMbies will help Republicans in 2012.  Perhaps he will prove prophetic, but the damage already dons since 2010’s mid-term congressional elections should be a strong signal to voters to elect Democrats in 2012 at all levels of government.

Robbie temporized about the idea of bringing marriage discrimination back to New York, but we already know that his colleague Maggie Gallagher has already unveiled a four-year plan to do this – a plan that is entirely unrealistic.

Robbie pooh-poohs Governor Cuomo’s membership in the Roman Catholic Church.  Andrew may well be a cafeteria Catholic, because he takes seriously the obligation of having an informed conscience seriously, and has chosen to reject those teachings of the Roman Catholic Magisterium that are immoral and evil.  Perhaps if the Catholic Church reformed itself, Governor Cuomo might be a “better” Catholic. (And yes, I would like to see Governor Cuomo and Sandra Lee get married, but I won’t judge their personal moral choice on the issue.  Perhaps now that the Marriage Equality Act is the law in New York, they might make a point of doing so, and explain that their main reason for not getting married is that they could not do so in good conscience until the Act becomes law.  Now, that would be a sweet statement to make in favor of marriage – not the heterosexist supremacist kind that Robbie George espouses, but the real thing, on a gender-neutral basis that is inclusive of and respectful to all marriages.

Robbie also has unkind words for the moral struggle of upstate State Senator Mark Grisanti, who provided the 33rd vote for marriage.  He had not been on the whip count, but he explained his vote so eloquently on the floor of the senate that it brought tears to my eyes.  Robbie thinks the very real religious protections will be “cover” for Grisanti and the others who fought to make sure they were in place.

What Robbie does not realize is that it took 17 Republicans to allow the bill to go to a vote.  All they needed to do was bring the vote up to 32 from the 29 Democrats willing to vote for it.  But it took at least 17 of them to tell Majority Leaser Dean Skelos to let it go to a vote.

Don’t discount the reality of the religious protections, Robbie. 

Before the vote, I was afraid that the religious “protections” were going to be a poison pill.  To a very small extent, they were, but not a fatal poison.  It turns out that they should appease thpose whose heterosexist supremacism is built into their religion, but only to the extent of the celebration of weddings and wedding receptions.  That is fine, we can live with that,

Robbie is fearful that the protections might not survive judicial scrutiny, even though the New York Act contains an in terrorem clause designed to provide further protection for fearful religious bigots.

As to legislative repeal of the "religious protections?"  There is the possibility of that, I don't deny it.  The only concerns I have is organizations that use state funding to discriminate.  Other than that, the religious protections are fine.  I would not insist that the Catholic church sacramentalize same-sex marriages - that would actually violate religious liberty (unlike the bogus religious liberty that Robbie prefers, that would protect only those who believe in religious liberty for those who agree with him).

Robbie incredibly still believes that religious liberty should belong only to heterosexist supremacist Christianists.

To illustrate thatm, take this quote from Robbie, in which  says:

“If you ask, “What can be done going forward around the country to protect religious liberty?” the answer is this: Win the fight to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. Period.”

Robbie should really consider taking a really serious look at his moral blind spot.  The institutionalized heterosexism (again, heterosexuality is okay, heterosexism is evil!) is his biggest failure.  Heterosexism itself is built on a foundation of misogyny. It’s built into the Catholic Church’s moral theology, which is the biggest failure of the Catholic Church itself.

Robbie sums up a truth, but expresses it in heterosexist terms. Children actually need loving parents.  The sex of those parents is immaterial, except to the heterosexist supremacists, for whom only an opposite-sex marriage should be permitted.

 Robbie closes with the “intellectual challenges” that he thinks that marriage equality advocates “have not met and cannot meet.”  I have news for Robbie, I took care of that yesterday. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quo Connubialis?

The infamous arch-enemy of marriage equality and LGBT rights, Robert P. George,  was quoted in a June 28, 2011 interview in the conservative National Review Online, entitled Sex and the Empire State touting a paper he co-wrote with Sherif Girgis of Princeton University’s Philosophy Department and Notre Dame Political Science professor Ryan T. Anderson, simply titled What is Marriage?

The pseudo-scholarly article may be cited as:

Girgis, Sherif, George, Robert and Anderson, Ryan T., What is Marriage?. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 245-287, Winter 2010.

Now, before anyone gets impressed by the “scholarly” seeming journal name, I’ve read that this journal is not a peer-reviewed journal, and is affiliated with the notoriously right wing Federalist Society.  So when we read Sharif/George/Anderson  article, we have to take into account the bias that is built into the article by the authors, and we also must remember that the reality is that it was intended as a propaganda piece to be used by The National Organization “for” Marriage, a notoriously anti-marriage organization, of which Robbie George is the board chair emeritus.

Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to get to the National Review article in this essay, since it ran 13 pages in Word, just going thrrough a debunking of much of the pseudo-scholarly article.

You might also remember Robbie George as one of the principal authors, with convicted Watergate felon Chuck Colson, of the infamous Manhattan Declaration, which I subject to a scathing analysis in my blog essay entitled Responding to the Manhattan Declaration

So with that as prologue, let’s look at the What is Marriage? Article, and see what we might uncover.


The authors create two “competing views” of marriage, conveniently labeling them as “conjugal view” and “revisionist view” – thus creating an immediate bias in favor of the former and setting up the latter as a straw man to beat up.  Let’s call them the “procreation centric” and “family-formation centric” to create a more level semantic playing field (rather than to provide a naming scheme favoring the latter, such as “breeder marriage” and “equal marriage”).

Many of the concepts and even the phraseology of the argument made by the authors can be drawn from papal encyclicals of Leo XIII (Arcanum, (1880)) and Pius IX (Castii Conubii (1930)).  The buzz words "conjugal union" and as we will later see, "true marriage" come from these documents.

So, if the authors were limiting themselves to marriage as it is conceived by the Roman Catholic Church, we would be a smidgen less critical.  But when they presume to apply Roman Catholic doctrine beyond the constraints of adherents of that religion, they go too far.
The authors place a central focus on what they refer to as “the behavioral part of the process of reproduction,” which seems to reduce the centrality of “procreation centric” marriage to nothing more sacred than simple heterosexual f-cking.  They indicate that the bearing and rearing of children “contributes to its distinctive structure.”  But this sex-act-centered definition, seems to paint a broader exclusion and  is intended to leave out those heterosexual couples in which one or both are infertile, or post-fertile, or choose not to have children, as well as those whose marriage contract is made on a gender-neutral basis in those jurisdictions in which the connubium of the right to marry is available on a gender neutral basis.

The “procreation centric” definition also seems to ignore the fact that gay men and lesbians may adopt, or have children from a prior heterosexual relationship (or even as the result of rape or incest) – what about those families where there are two parents, but they happen to both be the same sex, or one or both happen to be transgender?

Moving to the “family-formation centric” view (what they call “revisionist”), the authors do a fairly credible job in their definitional paragraph of describing a gender-neutral rationale for the connubium, while pointedly leaving out the fact that there are many same-sex relationships in which there are children being reared, a situation that also brings in aspects of the matrimonium concepts of marriage.  Key to this contractual “family-formation centric” view is the idea that the state should recognize and regulate marriage on a gender-neutral basis because “the state has an interest in stable romantic partnerships and in the concrete needs of spouses and any children they may choose to rear.”

I also find no fault with the fact that the authors cite as to the matrimonium not being based solely on religious beliefs – this makes perfect sense, since the care and nurture of children must be a central function of a society that grow and continues to the next generation.  One need only look at the Shaker religious movement, to find a focus on non-procreation to find a societal culture that made nice furniture but died out because none of the members did any procreating.

The issues I have with placing primacy on a matrimonium based solely on children conceived within the particular marriage on the basis of heterosexual reproductive sex acts between the parties to the detriment of having marriage in which the connubium is open on a gender-neutral basis to accommodate those whose sexual orientations make them different from the norm, are twofold.

First, not everyone in a marriage relationship can (or should) have children.  There are very real issues of a worldwide human population that is out of control, as we struggle to feed a population fast approaching seven billion people before the end of this year of 2011), in a world that did not reach one billion people from the distant mists of time until somewhere around 1820 (it took nearly 500 years to double population from 1350 until then), and had perhaps 2.5  billion people when I was born in the 1950’s baby boom.  Technically speaking, the human population is a plague that is reaching, or has reached, epidemic proportions, and the authors seem to think that the principal purpose of marriage should continue to be fueling massive population growth.

While I do not think placing the power of the state to make and enforce limits on reproduction, I do believe that we need to recognize that there are limits to human population growth. Continuing an age-old Western societal emphasis on human reproduction that was aimed at building the population size of nomadic desert tribes (the Hebrews) and of warlike empire-building city-states (the Romans) that combined by way of  the adoption of a Hebrew splinter sect as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 325 C.E., is not a moral or effective way to address massive overpopulation.  It does not help that most civilizations, other than the Chinese civilization, don’t seem to have addressed the issue (and the Chinese found it necessary to impose limits as a matter of state policy).

Moving back to the What is Marriage? article, the authors seem to believe that the “procreation centric” view and the “family formation centric” views of marriage are somehow in conflict – and that the adoption of civil laws that complete the legal equality of the sexes in marriage by making the connubium gender neutral, where all the other rights of marriage have already been made gender neutral is somehow detrimental to children.

The authors (and the anti-marriage equality organizations like NOM) take the preposterous position that adopting a ”family formation centric” view of marriage damages the “procreation centric” view.

The authors try to distinguish the anti-miscegenation laws overturned by Loving v. Virginia,  that extended the connubium on a race-neutral basis, from the new laws extending  connubium on a gender-neutral basis.

Incredibly, thay say: “antimiscegenation was about whom to allow to marry, not what marriage was essentially about.”

Stop. Right. There.  Simply put, both the repeal of anti-miscegenation laws and the enactment of gender-neutral marriage laws, both affect the connubium¸ and not the matrimonium that involves the care, rearing and custody of children.

Just as the ban on interracial marriage was designed to enforce and establish white supremacy, the ban on same-sex marriage is designed to enforce and establish heterosexist hegemony.  The argument against gender-neutral marriage literally drips with institutionalized heterosexist bias.

We live in a society that has the medical scientific ability to allow women to conceive without the necessity of having that biological heterosexual sex act going on.  It is possible for both lesbian and gay couples to raise children who are biologically related to one (or both in some cases) of the parties, whether the children are conceived by artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy or other methodology, in addition to those children biologically related to one of the parties from a pre-existing relationship.  It is also possible for lesbian and agay couples to raise children who are abandoned by heterosexual parents for any number of reasons. 

The fact that heterosexual people can make babies by accidentally engaging in certain reproductive heterosexual sex acts at the wrong time of the month does not justify creating or continuing a special limited method of family formation that encourages prolific breeding.

The authors blithely ignore the fact that marriage laws have changed over the years.  In New York, until 1848, the husband controlled the inheritances of the wife, and until 1860, the husband owned and controlled the wages of the wife.  Married women under the common law were not more than the chattel slaves of their husbands, and should their husbands be unhappy with them, the courts would invariably place the children with the husband.
They ignore the many other changes that have been made over the years, changes that started with nearly all the rights of marriage residing in the husband, meandered for a time so that the wife had some rights that were seen as superior, particularly in the context of divorce, and eventually resulted in marriage in which the bundles of rights between the parties have all been made gender neutral.  In most cases in the United States, all but one, and that is the connubium – the right to marry.

New York is the sixth state to make the connubium gender neutral.  Several other countries around the world have also taken this more elightened and non-heterosexist viewpoint.

Nothing in the law recently enacted in New York, or previously enacted in those other places, has taken a single iota away from opposite sex marriage, not even the matrimonium or the idea that a heterosexual marriage should be “procreative.”

That does not mean that if world population continues to rise exponentially, something will not have to be done – if heterosexual people cannot remain continent on their own, or at least start using effective forms of birth control to slow down the growth, the governments may have to trample on individual liberty for the public good.

The authors pull out the hoary arguments based on incest – that despite having legitimate reasons to discourage incest, that the connubium should be allowed to those with close genetic relationships.  (New York is a state that, unlike some other states, does allow first cousins to marry.)  (They might as well raise polygamy and the various fetish object and animal arguments of traditionalist marriage opponents).

The public policy argument, though, bears a look – with rampant breeding leading to massive overpopulation, there is possibly a draconian public policy argument to be made in favor of the notion that perhaps heterosexual  connubium be limited only to the eldest child of a married couple, with younger children and all children born out of wedlock being required to have birth control implants to prevent the possibility of impregnating or becoming pregnant.

(Of course, this is the kind of thing that one nation couldn’t necessarily do without finding itself at a reproductive disadvantage against competing nations which could have a desire to expand territory at the expense of the less-densely populated but morally superior neighbor.  Thus the idea of social control being imposed by one nation-state, other than China, with the hugest problem, is one that may carry detrimental consequences in the event of war, where there are fewer bodies to throw into uniform on one side than the other.  Perhaps technological advantages can maintain some parity or superiority for the less-reproductive nation, but there is no guarantee of this.

At some point on page 250, the authors start meandering toward an Equal Protection argument on page 251, where they diddle with the idea of polyamory.

Of course, there are arguments in favor of permitting various kinds of polygamous family formation, but such relationship recognition has to wait for the law to be revised in such a way to make them possible.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the idea of same-sex marriage wasn’t even on the drawing board.  People with minority sexual orientations were persecuted by the heterosexist majority, with so-called “anti-consensual sodomy” laws (which by name completely misrepresent the nature of the inhospitable patriarchist macho misogynist men of Sodom, who weren’t gay, but were rather people who hated strangers and people who were different from them (much like the American right wing, with its anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT positions are the true heirs of Sodom).  Transgender people were persecuted by laws such as New York’s “three articles of clothing” law.

In those days, the legal rights of husbands differed greatly from the rights of wives – and that made marriage a sort of “sour grapes” proposition for lesbian and gay people who might have wished to form families.  It is the oppressive laws that encouraged the development of the idea of “alternative lifestyles” to people for whom the idea of marriage was too high up on the arbor to reach.

But when the laws became gender neutral, the idea of connubium came within reach.  The striking down of the anti-sodomy laws in 2004 in Lawrence v. Texas made it even more attainable.

The authors introduce the concept of “real marriage” into which they place their heterosexist notions and deny reality to non-heterosexual unions.  Let’s call this what it is – no need to be polite, and call it “heterosexist marriage.”  That is, marriage that does not extend the connubium on a gender-neutral basis.  When the civil marriage laws are fully gender-neutral, nothing is lost to opposite sex marriage, and all familypforming relationships are enhanced.

On page 252, the authors pronounce that only marriage between a husband and a wife can be “real marriage.”

They make an example of two people pledging to monogamously play tennis with each other and only each other, until death parts them.  Is that a marriage?

They didn’t have to go far to be in reductio ad absurdum. 

On the other hand, for multiparty marriages, what better example than to look at an existing Roman Catholic phenomenon,, that of certain religious orders of men and women.  These bear, in a group sense, many of the indicia of marriage – in which nuns or sisters say their final vows in a white wedding gown, wear a plain gold band, and profess themselves to be “brides of Christ,” making them the celibate equivalent of Mormon “sister wives” who don’t have reproductive sex with each other, and have a husband who is conveniently unable to engage in reproductive sex with them.

The close-knit relationships of the members of these religious orders are, to me, certainly indicative of family formation, in relationships that are not based on sex, relationships that involve groups and governance much like business organizations.

(Similarly, male members of religious orders are similarly brides of Christ in a same sex union without sex being involved as a necessary incident.)

For many straight married couples of advanced age, sex is often an absent part of their relationship – should they then no longer be allowed to be married to each other?  No – there are so many other benefits, burdens, rights and responsibilities in the bundle of rights that are appurtenant to legal marriage, that it would be unconscionable to deny them on the basis that reproductive sex is no longer possible for them.

Sex, whether it is reproductive or not, may make a couple “one flesh” but love makes them “one soul.” 

One can argue that loveless arranged or dynastic marriages are not true marriages.  While it is true that the two may become “one flesh” for the purpose of reproduction of heirs, but without becoming “one soul” their relationship is only a parody of marriage, even if the union is legal.  Perhaps in this, we might discern the true nature of what the authors are trying to identify as “real marriage.”  But the reality is based on love, not sex – and that is something the authors should have considered.

Marriage should not be a property transaction to seal the alliance of one family with another, for business or for the ruling of nations.  Marriage should not be a matter in which an immigrant from a small Sicilian village seeks out a “paisan” from the same village so he can marry a daughter of the paisan, right off the boat, who has never met him before – but it has been at times such a sham, even with children having been produced.

The procreation-centric view is not even good Catholic theology.  Robbie George should familiarize himself with Casti Comubii, and encyclical written by Pius IX, in 1930, which I cite in my June 17, 2011 Marriage v. Civil Unions  essay.

Much of Casti Conubii  could easily be adapted to read in a gender-neutral manner without losing any of its moral force.(At the same time, much of it could easily be pared down with Jefferson's Razor to eliminate the parts that make it seem as if God actually had something to do with the civil institution of marriage for people who do not adhere to the mythological structure of Catholic Christianity or of Bible-based Christianity)

To Pius IX, the primary reason and purpose of marriage is that of a determined effort on the part of the spouses to perfect each other, by giving their entire beings to the relationship.  He saw it not in the restrictive procreative sense, but for the blending of life as a whole.

This is something that does not require opposite gender parties to work,  This is what family formation is all about, and this is why marriagelaws, including the right to marry, must be gender neutral.

However, it should also be clear that the Roman Catholic encyclicals do not and should not represent the totality of our understanding of the civil institution of marriage,

For example, one passage in Casti Conubii gives us the authors' source for the idea of "true marriage" only being the "conjugal" kind.

"For each individual marriage, inasmuch as it is a conjugal union of a particular man and woman, arises only from the free consent of each of the spouses; and this free act of the will, by which each party hands over and accepts those rights proper to the state of marriage, is so necessary to constitute true marriage that it cannot be supplied by any human power."

There are references in the text to the Roman Catholic code of Canon Law.  Canon Law applies to the Roman Catholic Church and has neither force nor effect as the law of the United States or of the several states.
I have not even gotten through a third of the What is Marriage?  Article, and its clear already that there is almost nothing that the authors write that cannot be refuted, and the things that they write that are actually true are things that are not objectionable in the first place.

Soldiering on, we move to the special parental relationship with children – and this is something that gay and lesbian couples can share just as well and just as effectively as opposite-sex couples.

The authors address the idea of consummation on page 257, and define it in the “traditional” sense – but the idea of David and Jonathan, married husbands,  kissing in the field while David goes “amplio” is completely lost on them.

The authors turn to references to studies on parenting of children.  The thing about this is that if there really were competent studies of the nature they put in this non-peer-reviewed article, the sources would almost certainly have been used by the defense in the California Proposition 8 case.  The fact that the only experts that the opponents of marriage could find in that case actually helped make the case for marriage lends credence to the idea that I should not waste time trying to address these bits of biased research.

At page 260, they start addressing the idea of harm being done to opposite sex marriage by extending connubium on a gender-neutral basis.  They talk about “abolishing” the procreation-centric view of the matrimonium  as if that would actually be adversely affected by gender-neutral connubium.  These are separate aspects of marriage, and their conclusions do not follow.

Their explanations are institutionally cissexist, and unfortunately, they can’t see it.  Citing to Maggie Gallagher and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops as being authoritative is rather sad.  We well know the bias of both sources, which are worthless.

They argue that gender-neutral marriage would :obscure the value of opposite-sex parenting” as an ideal, without understanding the notion that children are the center here.  Opposite-sex couples will still have heterosexual relationships, and children.  Same sex couples with children would see their children enjoying the benefits of marriage.  Single-parent families might see a societal encouragement to form a family with someone of their own sexual orientation, rather then resisting the idea because they cre not compatible with someone else.

On Page 263 they get bolder with the heterosexist supremacy argument, seeming somewhat like racists who would assert that white parents make better parents than parents of other races, without taking into account the many disparities in things like legal recognition.  If someone unbiased did a study of people in Massachusetts with marriages and children, who got married after marriage was made gender-neutral in that state, such a study would be worth consideration.

One can make a comparison of divorce rated in states that have fair marriage laws as opposed to states with heterosexist marriage laws.  The states with marriage fairness have significantly lower divorce rates than the other states.  This says a lot about the positive aspects of marriage equality on even opposite-sex marriages.

Lower on the page, they turn to the false argument of a threat to “moral and religious freedom.”  As I pointed out in my criticism of the Manhattan Declaration, Robbie George only sees religious freedom as belonging to people who share religious beliefs similar to his own.

Proponents of marriage equality have no problem with traditional marriages, which would certainly not be abolished.  But let’s call a spade a spade – only a heterosexist supremacist would hold to the view that heterosexual marriages and families are morally, spiritually and otherwise better than same-sex marriages and families, just as a white supremacist would se white marriages as superior to any others.

The lie about the Catholic Charities adoption service in Boston appears on page 264.  It is well known that Catholic Charities voluntarily gave up it operation rather than give up on state financing of their operation.  The Latter Day Saints still discriminate on the basis of their own religion in their adoption agencies in Massachusetts becaseu they take no state money.

Disruptive students who use religion as a cudgel are properly disciplined.  In the public square, gays are legally just as good as straights, and to hold otherwise does not injure religion, it is biased, bigoted and prejudiced people who flock to religions and images of God that reflect their own biases, prejudices and bigotry.  Religion should be a shield and not a sword – no one should require Catholic priests to perform sacramental marriages for two Jewish straight people, for example – gender-neutral marriage isn’t even a necessary component toward showing how silly the authors’ argument is.

No one is forcing straight people to enter into gay marriages.  But Robbie George and his co-authors feel free to deny Unitarians the right to perform same-sex weddings.  The authors are willfully blind on this issue – their heterosexism obfuscates any real argument they might find – and they just do not have any realistic religious argument.

The bigotry of people who deny that LGBT people are equal is an objective fact, and their religion is not an issue.  No real Christian would oppose same sex marriage.  Only Christianists do that – and while many Roman Catholics are Christians, the Roman Catholic Magisterium itself is an immoral body that on this issue attempts to require Catholics to reflect the evil in their hearts.

There is a huge difference between “proponents of conjugal marriage” (what I have been calling “procreation-centric”) and the cissexist  opponents of making marriage laws gender-neutral.  Referring to NOMbies like Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher or Robbie George as “proponents of conjugal marriage” (Robbie’s term” without taking into account the bigoted half of their position, is at the least disingenuous, and certainly misleading. 

No one, except perhaps the folks at Zero Population Growth (and honestly anyone else worried about rampant overpopulation), have any issue with the procreation-centric concept for those who believe in it.  It’s the opposition to gender-neutral marriage laws that comprises the prejudice that people of good will find objectionable.

Believing in “procreation centric”  marriage is not “hate.” Opposing the human rights issue of extending the connubium on a gender-neutral basis is – it is that simple, it is a wonder that the authors can’t seem to grasp that their arguments are so weak that they have to rely on lying in their article to try to make their lame points.

And now we’re about half-way through this mess.

I don’t have to argue anything about infertility – I don’t have any problem with gay or infertile couples marrying, so this isn’t going to bother me.  Their attempt to use heterosexist arguments to make a distinction is still objectionable.

At page 269, we get to a section on challenges for “revisionists.”

Anyone who has seen the way marriage laws have changed over the centuries should have some idea that the idea of making one last step toward making the entire marriage law gender neutral by adding the connubium to the gender-neutral aspects is just one more step on the arc of history bending ever-so-slightly toward justice.

Their challenges seem to be based on heterosexist assumptions.

I am not going to defend those who are subversives – I recently had a direct encounter with people of that mind-set over at the Joe.My.God. site comment area on an entry entitled Homoquotable - Dan Savage

(There are 227 comments at the time I am writing this, so it may take a while to find my comments)

I wrote (in part):

“Marriage should involve a commitment of mutual trust, support, and fidelity.”

One response (in part):

‘Says who? Where is the Marriage Policy and Procedure Book that outlines this? You made it up, didn't you? C'mon - confess.”

O which I reply (again in part):

“This somewhat exasperated lawyer (who admittedly does title insurance for a living these days, but has in the past handled a number of matrimonials) suggests that you take a look at a nice law book called "The Domestic Relations Law" of the State of New York. (assuming that since Dan was speaking of the recently signed Marriage Equality Act, that we are talking about New York law). Perhaps also looking at the many cases over the years that interpret the law.”

I suggest that readers of this article go take a look at Joe.My.God. – it is a great source for the news of the day on LGBT issues.

Robbie George and his co-authors mention Michaelangelo Signorile on the subversion topic, and the article I commented on quoted Dan Savage in a post New York marriage vote article on marital fidelity.

All I can say is that the existence of people who would abuse the institution of marriage is not something one finds exclusively in gay circles.  Any time a heterosexual married man, like a Donald Trump, a John Edwards  or a Newt Gingrich (mentioned only because they have been in the news,, steps out on his wife, he is abusing the dignity of marriage. (And this is not an exclusively Republican or straight phenomenon.  Disrespect for marriage comes from many sources – but advocating for extending connubium on a gender-neutral basis is not one of them.

They go on to raise absurd arguments not worthy of even a response.  I’ll issue a challenge to the authors, if I haven’t addressed something in this pretty much “stream-of-consciousness” response to the pseudo-scholarly article – point it out here and I will provide an answer. 

The authors seem to not know tha basis for same sex attraction.  I have a hint, it is not different from opposite-sex attraction, only reverse-polarized.

Their analysis suggesting that same-sex attraction in a small minority of the population is “undesirable” is just more cissexist supremacist tripe.  One might just as easily think of heterosexuality as undesirable in a world threatened by rampant overpopulation – but I’m not doing that, it’s just as logical an assumption to make as the cissexist one.

Even their thought experiment at the end is a narrow-minded cissexist one.  I can only point out, once again, the development of Catholic religious orders of nuns. sisters, brothers and monks, priests, etc. as exemplifying family-like institutions very much similar to marriage that don’t require sexual relationships as a basis.

Reason is on my side, it seems – and the chink in Robbie George’s armor is still there.  His morality is flawed, as is his logic. Gathering like-minded othes to co-author the article does not provide any improvement at all.

Perhaps I might at some other time get to the National Review interview that was New York-specific.  But this essay has been so long in response to the principal arguments in the pseudo-scholarly article, that I don’t feel justified forging any farther ahead.