Straws and Windmills

They feel the change in the air. And they’re scared! The opponents of marriage equality sense that the tide is changing against them and they are growing increasingly desperate in their myopic efforts to thwart an enemy that isn’t really there.

First, let’s look to the antics of the oddly named Family Research Council (it’s not clear to me what–if any–actual research they conduct), which brings forth an argument that is old and tired. Now an old argument isn’t necessarily a bad argument, but in this case it’s so preposterous that I didn’t expect to see it voiced again in any serious way. The group has filed amicus briefs related to DOMA and Prop 8 that Zack Ford on ThinkProgress summarizes thus:

FRC claims that gays and lesbians do not deserve nondiscrimination protections because of their sexual orientation, but adds that even if they did, the Court could still rule against them in these cases. The group explains this by pointing out that gay people can enter opposite-sex couples, and thus laws like DOMA and Prop 8 do not discriminate specifically against gay people, just same-sex couples.

FRC states, in part:

…the right to enter into a marriage that would be recognized under § 3 of DOMA “is not restricted to (self-identified) heterosexual couples,” but extends to all adults without regard to “their sexual orientation.” … a law that restricts marriage (or the benefits thereof) to opposite-sex couples does not, on its face, discriminate between heterosexuals and homosexuals.  The classification in the statute is not between men and women, or between heterosexuals and homosexuals, but between opposite-sex (married) couples and same-sex (married) couples.

This is of course just a long-winded way of saying that if gay people want to get married, they are free to marry an opposite-sex partner just like straight people are. Therefore, this is clearly not a matter of discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. Case closed, thank you very much.

Except, well, that’s stupid. First, they are really letting their homophobia shine through here. These people who are self-appointed protectors of marriage think that it’s less of a threat to the institution for (let’s say) a gay man and a lesbian to get married to each other for the rights and privileges that come with the title than it is for two men or two women to get married to each other. They hate and fear the gays that much! Second, the implication of this argument is that marriage under the law is about nothing more than said rights and privileges. But if that’s the case, why does it have to be between and man a woman? There is no logical reason that it would have to be. Of course, it is about more than that. This is obviously an attempt to spin the situation so that no protected class is being harmed. But no matter how you try to spin it, it is discrimination. There are people who are free to marry the consenting adult whom they love and wish to spend the rest of their life with, and those who are not. It’s pretty damn clear cut.

As Mr. Ford puts it, the same (il)logic could have been used in 1967: “The classification in the statute is not between white people and colored people, but between same-race couples and mixed-race couples, differentiated for the purposes of racial integrity.”

But let’s keep going further down the rabbit hole, shall we? Paul Clement, the attorney hired by the House GOP to defend DOMA, presents this argument:

It is no exaggeration to say that the institution of marriage was a direct response to the unique tendency of opposite-sex relationships to produce unplanned and unintended offspring. Although much has changed over the years, the biological fact that opposite-sex relationships have a unique tendency to produce unplanned and unintended offspring has not.  While medical advances, and the amendment of adoption laws through the democratic process, have made it possible for same-sex couples to raise children, substantial advance planning is required. Only opposite-sex relationships have the tendency to produce children without such advance planning (indeed, especially without advance planning).

I’m no scholar on the origins of the institution of marriage, so I won’t weigh in on that opening claim. His claim that “opposite-sex relationships have a unique tendency to produce unplanned and unintended offspring” is more or less accurate, but irrelevant. No state in the union outlaws marriage between two opposite-sex people on the basis that they are incapable of producing “unplanned and unintended offspring”. Men who are sterile (through nature, disease or vasectomy) get married all the time, as do women who are incapable of conceiving (due to nature, menopause, surgery or disease). If marriage is substantially about whoopsie pregnancies then why give all these people access to it? Also, it’s not so much opposite-sex relationships that cause accidental kids as it is opposite-sex relations (i.e. sex). By this “logic” polygamy should be legal, so that a man can marry his mistress or an already-married woman can also marry the coworker with whom she had a one-night stand at the office party (who himself is married). At best this gives a rationale for encouraging heterosexuals to marry, but not for preventing homosexuals from doing the same. It’s not like marriage is a non-renewable resource; there’s an infinite supply of it!

It’s rather refreshing to see that this is the best they’ve got. Those who would stand in the way of marriage equality are not only tilting at windmills, but they’re also grasping at straws.

Further Reading:

There’s Absolutely No Logical Argument Against Gay Marriage – Business Insider

Gays Can’t Marry Because … They Plan Babies? – NY Magazine

More Guns

This is something that I just now stumbled on, many months after the fact. But it’s still highly relevant, particularly to my recent post about guns. If you didn’t read it (it’s long, I know) my point was in countering the preposterous NRA claim that having more guns would deter violence.

Anyway, this is a post from a friend of mine relating to the mass shooting in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater in the summer of last year. He is a gun owner, a Marine veteran and a police officer. He addresses a slightly different angle than I do, namely how more guns would (or would not) have helped. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but I’ll post a couple snippets below.

My Perspective on the Colorado Shooting

If an officer, or two, had been in the theater when this happened they would have been in no better situation then those there to watch the movie.  Someone told me that they would have guns and could have shot back.  Really?  Once the tear gas and shots rang out PANIC also began.  As a police officer, I can tell you that just because I have a gun does not mean I am super man.  Hundreds of people began to run, jump, drop to the floor.  Even the best trained officer would find this situation a nightmare to find out who is doing the shooting and then to even try to take a shot without hitting one of the hundreds of people running.

The other what if … is one concerning a law abiding citizen carrying concealed in the theater….  Again you still have mass panic, disorientation, darkness, lack of formal training and the big one in my mind how do you shoot at a single person without hitting the hundreds that are trying to flee.  My biggest issue with this is what would keep the fleeing people from thinking you were just another gunman in the dark trying to do the same thing the suspect was doing, kill people.

Indeed! If some good Samaritan had been carrying in the theater, he or she may well have been shot (as was such a would-be helper in one of the examples in my Guns post) or have accidentally hit bystanders, as trained police officers did in NYC last year outside the Empire State Building(also an example in my post). And if you do have good & bad guys packing heat, how do you tell them apart in a hyper tense, deadly (not to mention dark) situation?

I’m sharing this because I think it’s an interesting perspective from someone knowledgeable on guns, security and policing. Check it out.

Happy New Year!

I’m a little late here, but better late than never. So, happy New Year, everyone. Feliz Año Nuevo.

For Christmas I was in the Chicago/Northwest Indiana area, mostly with the “in-laws” (as we are not married, they aren’t actually in-laws yet, thus the quotes) but also got to see a couple friends. It was…interesting. Entertaining, mostly, but hectic. I started getting a sinus (I think) headache Christmas day, which has been somewhat recurring since then. So it might be a brain tumor. Oh well.

New Years was spent at the apartment of some acquaintances in Manhattan. It was a small party–about 9 people total–but it was nice. We still don’t have many friends in the area, so hopefully some can come out of this.

Well, 2012 was a year of transition for me. There were some major changes in my life, and they are all working out more or less OK so far. I hope for 2013 to change that OK to GREAT! I started a new job a couple months ago, and it’s nice to have a paycheck but I’m really looking forward to getting into the work and being productive. I am also hoping to make some more local friends. And now that I have an income again, I want to do more traveling (including back to Chicago to spend more time with my friends there) and exploring the cultural activities in and around NYC.

Just to be clear, I don’t make resolutions. These are just things I’d like to do this year, assuming  I don’t die from that brain tumor.

So, how was 2012 for you and what do you hope 2013 holds?