Democrats exempt marriage from rule of liberal equality
unprincipled exception. Appearing before the country’s most prominent homosexual advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign, the Democratic presidential candidates (with the exception of the “non-serious” candidates Sharpton, Moseley-Braun, and Kucinich) opposed homosexual marriage
, while favoring civil unions that give homosexual couples all the rights of marriage. “Marriage has a special status in our culture, our society, our history,” Joseph Lieberman said, drawing hisses from the audience. Under questioning, Howard Dean remarked that extending marriage to gays is problematic “because marriage has a long, long history as a religious institution.” In other words, for cultural and historical reasons, marriage is to be exempted from the general principle of liberal equal freedom. But why marriage should be made such an exception, and not lots of other traditions that liberals have no similar special respect for, is not clear. It is an unprincipled exception, which is the only way a liberal can oppose any aspect of liberalism.
By the way, the Democratic candidates’ position on homosexual marriage is to the right of that of Vice President Cheney, who in his 2000 debate with Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman said homosexual marriage was just fine with him, if that’s what a state chose to do. Their stand is also the same as that of the online editor of America’s flagship conservative magazine, Jonah Goldberg, who supports homosexual civil unions.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 17, 2003 08:57 AM | Send
The Democrats are hedging at no political cost. Politically serious homosexualists know that the candidates’ presence before HRC is what matters, not any (never to be acted on) distinctions they pretend to want to preserve between marriage and homosexual “civil unions.” The HRC will pressure the churches about sacramentalizing homosexual liaisons by labelling them marriages. HRC’s leaders know the Democrats are already with them about the dollars-and-cents governmental aspects of legitimizing those liaisons.
As for Cheney (establishment Republican) and Goldberg (unwavering cheerleader for the Bush administration and other establishment Republicans), they provide more evidence that the Republican establishment is - in its actions - as hostile to American tradition as the overt Left. The traditionalist’s challenge remains: helping non-liberal Americans see that. There is no lack now of evidence. HRS
This reminds me of David Frost’s interviews with the respective Democratic candidates during the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries. He would ask each one of them, could a homosexual be President of the United States? As I remember (I may be reversing the names here), the “liberal” position was taken by Bruce Babbitt of Arizona, who said, “Sure, absolutely, why not,” while the “conservative” position was taken by Richard Gephardt, who said, “I don’t think the country’s ready for that.”
I completely disagree. You cannot deny a human being the right of marrying how and who they choose to spend a life of love with. Marriage is a blessing, a liberty and a right to every human being on the planet. You cannot deny someone rights defined to them in the Constitution. How dare you even suggest that they can be together but not be married. It is not the same thing. How would you like to be told (as an individual) that you could not practice this way of love for your significant other. Times have changed and so have people.
Its all about tolerance. If you deny homosexuals any rights you are basically allowing any gay crimes in the country and only furthering the negativity and ignorance that we had during the civil war and any of the civil rights movement. If you deny someone a right it better be because they are not human. Not because you are not willing to help society change. Skin color isn’t a biological factor and niether is gender preferance. Live and Let Live. Love and let Love. Who is anybody to deny a wonderful union between two people. That is exactly what homosexuals are PEOPLE, humans and humans have rigths. Take those away and you are being extrememly unfair and UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Have a great day
One mistake that many people make is that marriage is primarily about love. Love is certainly can be a feature of marriage, especially in our culture, but it is not its primary feature. An examination of the marriage customs of cultures around the world will attest to this. Whatever marriage system a culture may have, be it polygamy, monagamy, serial monagamy, or even polyandry, marriage is primarily about reproduction and property. This may seem to cheapen the care that those involved may have for each other, but that’s the way humanity solves its problems.
If you do see marriage as ONLY an expression of love between two people who for some reason decide to join in a marital union because they love one another, then opposition to gay marriage seems like a backwards, cruel opinion.
To me, there seems to be two choices: either abolish marriage completely, which is a strong tendency today, or uphold it. To make marriage an option as legitimate as non-marriage, seems to ruin the whole point of marriage. Furthermore, if marriage is just as legitimate as some other non-marital arrangement, why give it all kinds of legal and economic sanctions? Just because they supposedly love one another?
Miss Carden demonstrates once again how homosexual marriage is the ne plus ultra of liberalism. For modern liberals, something that has existed and taken for granted throughout all human history, marriage as the union of a man and a woman, is an intolerable, hideous oppression.
It’s amazing how the liberal language of rights and non-discrimination has morphed into a set of demands and expectations more radical in their own way than Communism, Trotskyism, Maoism.
Mr. Auster, if you would so generous as to indulge one more question from a neophyte.
When you say that marriage is “…something that has existed and taken for granted throughout all human history, …the union of a man and a woman”, are you taking into account the various other marital arrangements that have existed and do exist among humanity, like polygamy, polyandry, etc.?
Well, excluding the time of the Hebrew patriarchs who had more than one wife, the predecessor civilizations of Western Christian civilization—i.e., Israel, Greece, Rome—and Western civilization itself have had only one type of marriage, a man and a woman. So that’s at least 3,000 years of Western and pre-Western civilization. Various other cultures and civilizations, of course, have had polygamy and polyandry. But no culture or civilization has defined marriage as a man and a man.
First, a clarification (yes, I am a hopeless pedant):
Polyandry is a subset of polygamy. While polygamy is usually taken to mean one man with several wives, the specific term for that is polygyny. Polygamy means either one man and several wives (polygyny) or one woman and several husbands (polyandry).
Second, a comment on the Hebrew patriarchs:
It should be noted that even in Old Testament times, the practice of taking more than one wife does not seem to be one that is looked on very favorably. Abraham’s second marriage to Hagar led to strife, and some believe to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Jacob’s two marriages sowed a whole lot of discord between his sons. David wound up having one son incestuously rape his sister, and another son temporarily dethroned him, as I recall. I don’t remember specifically, but I seem to remember problems with Solomon in that regard as well (I may be mistaken). The only polygamous marriage that I can recall that did not appear to go to you-know-where in a handbasket was that of the father of the prophet Samuel.
I sensed I had that wrong as I was writing it. Thanks for the clarification.
polygamy: many spouses
polyandry: many husbands
polygyny: many wives
Also, I left out that it wasn’t just the patriarchs, but the Kings of Israel, or at least David and Samuel, who practiced polygyny.
“I donít remember specifically, but I seem to remember problems with Solomon in that regard as well (I may be mistaken). The only polygamous marriage that I can recall that did not appear to go to you-know-where in a handbasket was that of the father of the prophet Samuel.”
Solomon is described as being led into idolatry by his many wives, hence the kingdom was to be taken away from his sons. This led to the Divided Kingdom era (Israel as the Northern Kingdom, and Judah as the Southern Kingdom).
In the opening verses of 1 Samuel, we find that Hannah was tormented for her barrenness by her husband’s other wife. Furthermore, the other wife felt drive to do this because she was jealous over her husband’s favoritism for the wife that had not borne him any children. Such favoritism was common and was the cause of a lot of family strife.
So, the two examples you did not remember are among the foremost examples of the problems of polygyny.
Mr. Auster wrote: “[I]t wasnít just the patriarchs, but the Kings of Israel, or at least David and Samuel, who practiced polygyny.”
Interestingly, this conduct by the future kings was proscribed early on through Moses:
“When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me … he shall not … multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away …” (Deut 17:15-17)
But they did it anyway. God tolerated but never endorsed the practice.
And to back up Mr. Coleman’s point, I think a review of the cases of polygamy, at least where we are given a glimpse into the lives of those concerned, we’ll find that the practice was typically attended by trouble and internal strife, to be expected by jealousies and rivalries, not only among wives but among siblings.
Thus, Jacob despised his first wife Leah — “And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.” When Rachel finally gave birth, Jacop preferred Joseph because he was her child, and his brothers sold him into Egypt. The above is true even where concubines were concerned, as the treatment by Abraham’s wife Sarah of Hagar shows. And the problems between the respective sons of each have a long and torturous history to boot.
Because the practice was accepted in that day, there were qualifications to it incorporated into the Mosaic Law, but what qualifications!: “If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children …” (Deut 21:15)
A relevant comparison can be made between the toleration of polygyny and Moses’s grant of a writ of divorce. When Jesus was asked about the latter He replied: “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matt 19:8) Neither was polygyny instituted “from the beginning.” It was one man and one woman, together as one flesh.
Ooops, the polygamy/polygyny mistake was my fault, should have known better. Thanks for pointing that out.
What I was trying to get at with my question was that although marriage is universally an institution that orders the relations between men and women when it comes to reproduction and inheritance, marriage has not been (and is not) universally a union of one man and one woman. Monagamous marriage has been a near universal in Western history, and has recently become dominant (though still not universal) in other parts of the globe, even though its beginning to break down to some extent. I do suspect that monagamous marriage is the probably the only kind that can support the type of societal substructure that our civilization is built on, and that monagamous marriage is the best expression of human nature. I just think that the marriage practices of peoples (no matter how marginal) from all times and places should be considered when making claims about human nature and marriage.
Also, lest anyone completely misread me, I am not trying to make some backdoor (no pun intended) defense of gay marriage, which is an obvious contradiction in terms and a farce.
A few comments on non-monogamous marriages- I am referring, of course, to relationships between opposite sexes! Polygyny, that is marriage between one man and more than one woman, is the only common type, and even that never appears as more than a minority of marriages in any known society. Polyandry and group marriage are ethnographic freakshows and are very, very rare. Polyandry appears only in a few societies on the ragged edge of existence in very impoverished environments, such as Tibet, and are the immediate product of a custom of selective infanticide of girl babies. The resulting skewed sex ratio is dealt with by having a group of men, usually brothers, marry the same woman. Group marriage is even more rare, and apparently appears only when the female infanticide in a society practicing polyandry is stopped, more women becoming available to “fit” into the now unneeded polyandrous framework. It should be obvious that these arrangements are adjustments to extreme conditions that have nothing to do with normal human existence. They have nothing much to teach us….
Yep, that’s pretty much what the catholic encyclopedia seems to be saying (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09693a.htm).
I’m inclined to agree that monogamy may be the default marital arrangement for humanity even if there have been many long lasting exceptions, but I still think that these exceptions tell us something about human nature and are necessary to examine for an informed defense of marriage. It may be that I’m just wasting my time on rare specimens.
A minor point: I would disagree with the above web page and say that, at least in the case of Tibet, it is debatable that polyandry is caused by female infanticide. Rather, it seems to be a response to the impoverished environment Mr. Levine mentioned (the Himalayas) by that society as a means of population control (and hence resource control), leaving the excess females as spinsters.
Mr. Levine is, of course, correct that polyandry is vanishingly rare, which is why polygamy is usually thought of as a synoym for polygyny. As I said before, I was being pedantic.
A side note:
One societal problem with polygyny that Steve Sailer pointed out was that it unless the male/female ratios are severely skwewed in favor of females, it leaves a large number of bachelors. Large numbers of unattached men are usually not a good thing for a society to have, as they tend to get bery brutal and warrior-like.
Interetingly enough, this means that in some ways polygyny is a worse arrangement for men than for women (or at least for those men who “get into the game late.”)
Pedantic would be replacing “group marriage” with “polygnandry” (marriage of two or more male siblings with two or more females).
As another side note, Peter Wood points out that in societies where homosexuality is sanctioned (or required), the value placed on female reproductive capacity is low, and so is the birthrate. He then suggests that if a society such as our own sanctioned homosexuality, we would have to import outsiders.
Mr. Jose wrote: “Large numbers of unattached men are usually not a good thing for a society to have, as they tend to get very brutal and warrior-like.”
As a side note, this is one of the concerns I have in the background about China. With her notorious “one-child” policy, enforced by compulsory abortions, females are diminishing in overall percentage of the population, as a male child is highly sought after in Chinese society. I wonder how this will affect the dynamics of China’s aggressive posture down the road, when there are many men but very few women.
I wonder too if this will not result in a wider spread of homosexuality there, currently frowned upon but an active underground.
Michael Jose is right about polygyny having bad effects — given a normal sex ratio in the population. It is possible, however, that in some cases it is a rational response to abnormally high death rates among men in warfare or hunting. The former was at least the putative motive for the Nazis’s plans to introduce polygyny in Germany had they survived the war.
Mr. Levine’s 06:35 PM post recalls the prophetic word of Isaiah: “Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war… . And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.” (Isa 3:25, 4:1)
I recall reading of how there were many, many spinsters following the Civil War, there being not enough men remaining to marry.
Joel leFevre writes: “I wonder how this will affect the dynamics of Chinaís aggressive posture down the road, when there are many men but very few women.”
A military expert wrote a frightening essay in the L.A. Times about four years ago on precisely this topic. And, speaking of Steve Sailer, his work on a related subject suggests a further complication: Asian male, like black female, anger rising from frustration.
“Coalburning” white chicks are responsible for a small portion of the sex imbalance among black Americans, but are an inviting target for that anger. Similarly, American adoption of Chinese infants, which is skewed toward girls, accounts for a microscopic fraction of China’s sex imbalance. But it’s visible and easy to exploit.
Those lonely Chinamen will be angry, all right— at us.
Given the tendency of Chinese to fight amongst themselves, I would guess that this kind of imbalance would result in internal disruption (e.g. very high crime or perhaps rebellion against the government) rather than international aggression. This internal disruption would be compounded by the fact that the gender imbalance is more prevalent in inner, rural China rather than the urban coast.