What’s next? Your goat?

I have never been to a gay pride parade before. I am just not interested. It’s nothing against gays, I would not go to a hooker’s parade either.

Still, this past weekend I ended up by accident in the middle of one.

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I didn’t mind it at all. There was lots of genuine exuberance. It was a really gay event. The Bob Dylan fan with us on his first trip to New York just wanted to ‘feel’ Greenwich Village and was a little disappointed as the parade deprived him of the opportunity.

The day before, our New York liberal friend threw another one of her foundational questions at me – this time about gay marriage. The tortured expression on my face while saying ‘it is not that simple’ really got her going.
I must be a homophobe. I must hate gay people. Why else would I try to deny people the rights everybody should have? Why wouldn’t I support their rights to get married?

I found myself yet again in that uncomfortable libertarian corner where I may appear to agree with the moral conservatives while my motives, arguments and reasoning are entirely different.

When the issue is raised, it tends to fall into a simple dichotomy about the sexuality. About our reaction to what most of humanity still consider an unnatural behaviour. If you do not accept it unconditionally, you are a hate filled vile homophobe. Maybe even a Republican or some other sort of right winger. Somehow, the proponents of gay marriage never fail trying to degrade the debate into a discussion about what their opponents think about the (homo) sexual act and about their willingness to tolerate it. Every other argument is dismissed as just an excuse to cover up the real reason: HOMOPHOBIA!!!! The fear of the different. Any opposition, no matter how reasonable is labeled HATE SPEECH, because they consider the benefits to outweigh any conceivable argument against it.

But there are arguments

At another time and another place, a friend, a world renowned scientist but somewhat prudish moral conservative who was also standing opposed to us asked “So what’s next? Marry your goat?” In that case I was arguing for tolerance.

Although the question is usually dismissed as some homophobe nonsense, it is not a bad one.

Boundaries are important, and so is consistency. If ‘A’ then why not ‘B’? Why not polygamy?
Why not incest? Why not pedophilia? Mohammed, the most exemplary of all human beings who ever lived married his favourite wife when she was six years old. Surely the idea of legal recognition of marriage at that age would find support in some segments of society.
The first time I started thinking about the issue I asked how about my brother? What if I want to be my brother’s keeper? What if I want to put him on my dental plan? On the lease of my rent controlled Manhattan apartment? (Seriously, this was an argument of my host for gay marriage; the passing on of a rent controlled lease that only married couples can take advantage of. Denying this fundamental human right from gay couples is clearly inhuman.)
If I say that he is my brother I cannot be his state sanctioned keeper with all the financial and legal perks but if I say that we perform certain sexual act on each other, then I can.

But why to stop with my brother? I cannot even marry my sister! Yes, there is of course this argument about genetic risks and such but why should that keep us from happiness if we truly love each other? What if we promise to practice safe sex? Why is incest a taboo?
I will not get into a discussion about zoophilia, but even that could be argued for. The question is not a joke, it is a question of boundaries, a question about the nature of the institution.  If we start expanding the boundaries, we have to start thinking how far are we ready to go? To answer the question, we have to understand what is the point of marriage in the first place.

The rational opposition

It is truly fascinating how much we can talk about marriage without really understanding what it means and how it came about. Why do we have the institution to begin with? It is clearly evolutionary, several animal species have arrangements similar to human nuclear families. If we wish to understand what are the functions of families, and the customs (such as marriage)  that keeps them together, we need to look at our evolution and the history of the institution in human societies.

Over the course of the evolution of our species, we figured out a few things:

  • Biological parents tend to take better care of their off-spring
  • It is better for those off-springs if their parents stay together through their upbringing.
  • The existence of the nuclear family is to the benefit of the whole society and should be encouraged with status and respect plus various rewards.
  • We also recognised that since raising children takes a long time, it is important to have a legal framework that will protect them and the mother. All customs and laws that arose around the institution came about for this reason.
  • Homosexuals do not produce off-springs, and any group of people where homosexuality grows beyond a certain level will become extinct.

For moral conservatives the institution of the family means the economic and social unit that ensures the continuation of the race and the values of our societies. The nuclear family came about as an evolutionary necessity, not as an evil design to marginalize the …… well, marginal.
For most of history and in most cultures it is primarily a social institution but in the developed world we grew it into something beyond ‘just’ social and turned it into  a government enforced legal status bestowing certain privileges on those recognized by it. The institution exists to encourage the things it represents. The institution is about the needs of society and the state, not the individual. Asking for the recognition of a union as marriage while not offering any of its benefits to society is simply selfish and self-indulgent. Gay marriage cannot offer benefits to society; it can only have demands on society and the state.

The libertarian opposition

The libertarian position is simple: marriage is a social, not a political institution; the state should have nothing to do with it. The gays should be able to do whatever they want, call their legal unions, their contracts, ceremonies and commitments whatever they wish as long as they do not expect state sanctioned privileges with it. Not because they shouldn’t have it but because nobody should.

In the state-society-individual trichotomy, the state is in a constant conflict with both society and individuals. The state is most effective when individuals are atomized and the different groups of society are pitted against each other. That is how the state grows. Using its power to take over the functions of civil society in a slow process of ‘divide and conquer’, a process of conferring benefits to one group at the expense of others, strengthening its position as the arbitrator of social morality.

The libertarian position in this instance (as in many similar ones) is a conflicting one. On the one hand we believe that individuals should have the right to do whatever they wish as long as their actions do not directly harm the rights of somebody else, while on the other hand we also believe that the state should not have the right to confer special political and financial privileges on some social groups at the expense of some others. The questions we have to answer is this: should we have equal treatment under a bad law? Should we support a proposition that will make the discrimination, the power and income redistribution even more entrenched?

If gay right activists would fight against the state conferred, discriminatory privileges of marriage, I would be fighting right along with them, but that is not what they want. They just want to be in on those privileges. Once they are in, whoever is left out will be even more marginalized, the hope that we can reform the injustice of the system will be even more remote, the institution will be even more politicized.

The political opposition

Same sex marriage is not about sex, it is about money. Nobody really cares about the sex part any more. The thriving for social acceptance argument is also baloney.  Gays do whatever they want for several decades by now without any harassment or discrimination. What they want is money, power and privileges and they are extremely successful getting it. The power they exercise over society far outweighs their numbers and even the level of their affluent status in society.

In a world with constantly declining voter turnouts the support of well-organized and highly motivated voting blocs is a serious asset, a fact not lost on politicians.

Governor Cuomo, who happens to be up for re-election this coming fall, was not only marching in the New York parade, but was also actively (meaning financially) supporting it. The ground was littered with “Thank you Governor Cuomo” and “LGBT for Cuomo” signs. One must wonder how many were printed. How much did it all cost? Who paid for it? I somehow doubt that it came from the Governors’ personal account. It is a safe bet to assume that it came from the public purse.
This is wrong in more ways than I can say and quite likely illegal as well. Does it make me a homophobe if I have a problem with it? A politician using taxpayers’ money to buy the votes of a powerful lobby group for his own re-election? Yet, I find it difficult to imagine that anybody would dare to question Cuomo’s quite possibly illegal use of public money for his personal benefit. It would be political suicide.

Even in Toronto with its conservative Mayor standing quite steadfast against the pressure of the gaystapo, it is unthinkable not to support the parades from public money. Money that may be coming from the pockets of people who may have legitimate reasons to hold a different opinion.
In the end, this is what politics is all about – replacing the voluntary with the coerced in the name of fairness and democracy.

As usual, I am not sure that I was able to give answers, but I hope I was able to raise enough questions to support my position saying that the issue is not that simple. It is important at this point to ask what my actual position would be if I was an elected member of a political body voting on it. My honest answer is that I don’t know. It would depend on the wording and the provisions of the law. I would be more likely to support it than not but I would make serious efforts to voice my reasons to question the wisdom of such law as expressed above.

I do not want to make this post too long, but I have to note that this subject leaves a number of questions open:

  • The hypocrisy in attacking the quite benign Christian views while giving Islam a pass on far more dangerous attitudes and actions.
  • The logic behind the state’s war on the family.
  • The sociobiological reasons behind the gay rights movement’s political push.

6 replies on “What’s next? Your goat?”

  1. The rational opposition will outlive the libertarian and political opposition with this very simple statement: “Homosexuals do not produce off-springs, and any group of people where homosexuality grows beyond a certain level will become extinct.”

    Go ahead and marry a goat and let science end your species.

  2. Ketjow says:

    “In the state-society-individual trichotomy, the state is in a constant conflict with both of society and individuals. The state is most effective when individuals are atomized and the different groups of society are pitted against each other. That is how the state grows.”
    These are very wise words. You answered the two of your 3 final questions:
    1. The Christian family values are anti- or rather above and beyond state control. That’s why an attempt to dissociate “Christian” from “Family”; that’s why both Stalinism and Hitlerism attacked both the Church and Family: and even experimented with the State organized “perfect children” programs. The Christianity promotes equality of each person, since we are all God’s children – this concept destroyed the concept of slavery as the basis of societal organization.
    The fanatical, theocratic, and totalitarian tendencies in present day Islam could actually be more compatible with the New Big Brother Totalitarian State. The Christian populations currently do not support the Union of State and Religion; but the Muslim populations are still Theocratic in mind. (why? I think the Christianity went through its Reformation, religious wars, enlightenment etc; while the Muslims did not suffer “enough” to realize that State and Religion should not mix.).
    Is it possible that the public statesmen in the Western countries got terrorized by the fanatic and intolerant Muslims? Maybe. Or perhaps they would welcome a new Theocracy/Totalitarian union?
    2. This is an individual that the State needs to control; yet the Institution of Family stands as an obstacle to the individuals being “totally atomized.” The family is a protector of the children against indoctrination too. The weaker the family the more vulnerable the individual is. Hence the state’s war on family.
    3. The feeling of being socio-biologically inadequate is the cause of trying to get that yearning for adequacy being satisfied and recognized by the State with it’s legal and coercive powers. This motive may be even more powerful than the monetary, financial advantages.

    Yes, “it is not so simple” is a fair statement. The individual that is (or choses to be) an LGTBQ deserves as much freedom as anybody else, but like for anybody else there are some limits on that freedom: that is trying to use a State machinery to your advantage is one such a no-no.
    Since marriage is a legal and social entity that is of crucial importance to a civil society, the needs to be a desire to the definitions straight: that Marriage is between a Man and a Woman.
    Therefore, it would be wiser for the Libertarians to keep it so.
    And it has nothing to do with homophobia or hate. Rather, it is only natural.

    • zorkthehun says:

      I wrote a long response the other day then I got distracted and closed my browser later without saving it….
      You are right, it is possible to deduce the answers to my questions as you pointed out in your comment, but it is possible to further expand them. The war on the family is a very big issue going way beyond this one, but even considering just this, I would also want to talk about the ‘my brother’s keeper’ aspect a little more.
      Same goes for the socio-biology point. I wold argue, for example, that part of the political push from the movement is simply to expand the scope of their partner finding possibilities. The more acceptable the practice is, the more we can encourage teenagers to experiment with their sexuality, the greater the pool of potential partners for this marginal group becomes.
      I hope I do not need to emphasize that there is no value judgment in it when I say this.

  3. zorkthehun says:

    The discussion from facebook:
    Bronwen Dwyer Have you had the argument about marriage making it more possible for gay couples to adopt children?
    July 6 at 6:11pm · Like

    Darcy Neal Donnelly Test tube babies are an option to keep the species going.
    July 6 at 7:57pm · Like

    Zork Gábor Hun The question, Darcy, is not what we can or cannot do, but the origin of the institution and the reasons for its existence. My opposition to the idea is a purely Libertarian one. I don’t want the state to be the arbiter of what is socially acceptable and to arrange income redistribution along the lines of its decisions.
    July 6 at 9:33pm · Like · 1

    Zork Gábor Hun No Bronwen, I did not this time but I did in the past.
    I cannot squeeze into a comment here what I think about it, that is another issue that is not that simple
    July 6 at 9:37pm · Like

    Darcy Neal Donnelly Your libertarian opposition is very valid but I do prefer your rational oppositon.
    July 6 at 9:49pm · Like

    Taison Christian Huppé Thank you for sharing this well-written post, Zork! Many of the points and questions you raised are ones with which I’m currently struggling in my own life as a gay libertarian. This issue really isn’t as simple as it may seem.
    July 6 at 9:55pm · Unlike · 2

    Bronwen Dwyer Your views on this are definitely new to me and it’s given me a lot to think about. It does rub me the wrong way when I hear anyone bring up the argument that allowing gay marriage opens up some floodgate which will start movements for animal or child marriage. There is a very important distinction between these and consenting (human) adults. I understand you’re talking about more than this in your post.
    July 6 at 9:55pm · Like · 2

    Taison Christian Huppé I agree, Bronwen. I think what’s important to consider regarding these arguments of boundaries is whether the individuals are free to consent and whether or not they do so. Animals and children, it’s safe to argue, are not able to give their full, legal consent to such arrangements.
    July 6 at 10:00pm · Like · 2

    Zork Gábor Hun I tremendously appreciate the fact Taison, that you understand that I am not your enemy, what I have problems with is the state and how it is using its coercive power to create more problems than it solves with any of its actions.
    I absolutely agree with your point about consent, I only made those two points to show that they are part of the discussion. (the animals mostly in a negative way to put the idea down, but still.) The demands for the acceptance of polygamy are just around the corner. They are part of the Sharia discussion. What I consider the most important points in my post is being my brother’s or my sister’s keeper. That is a setup that would not receive any state support. Picture yourself living with your brother or sister wanting to adopt a child. Sex does not even have to enter into the picture.
    ….. and again, my main point was that the issue is not that simple and opposing gay marriage does not mean opposition to homosexuality, it does not mean homophobia, it does not mean that those who hold those opinions want gays back in the closet.

  4. […] As I pointed out in an earlier post “What’s next? Your goat?” […]

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