POSTED BY on 10:48 AM under Same Sex Issues
Old Glory Radio interview with Charlotte Robinson, Boston Ma., Emmy Award Winning Producer, (CBS, ABC news) about her new pro- Gay Marriage film via: OUTTAKEonline.com - 02/07/08
I'll give it a listen. I typically find it's worthwhile to hear others present their side so that our dialog can be focused more narrowly on rebutting their claims and addressing their concerns. If you aren't listening when they speak you can't reply -- you can only try to scream louder. I'm just hoping that this is presented well...but unfortunately I find that's seldom the case...
Here's the audio: Download
*HT to Charlotte Robinson (one and the same from OUTTAKEonline.com), who sent this in.
UPDATE: I listened to the roughly 20 minute interview and have a few comments.
1. When asked why the logic of "marriage is a civil right available to anyone who wants it with anyone they want" ought not apply to polygamy (polyandry, polygyny or group marriage), the rather unsatisfying response was, more or less, because that's not what we're talking about -- we're only talking about two people.
That's more or less the same as asking why should gravity not apply to oranges when it clearly applies to apples and receiving the answer, "Well, we're not talking oranges. We're talking apples." True, we may only be talking about apples, but if the logic works then it applies equally. What's good for the goose is good for the gander...unless you want to be discriminatory and un-inclusive...which is why Justice Scalia wrote what he did in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas.
2. When asked about what rights marriage provides that civil unions don't, no specifics were given. They're available, but one would expect a proponent to be able to rattle them off. Disappointing, but not fatal to the argument -- just the credibility of the presenter (though, in fairness, it may have been a tactical decision). When you look at the differences, they mainly have to do with
(a) immigration rights,
(b) taxation, and
(c) Social Security benefits.
The proper response (I suppose) would be to ask why these ought to be granted to same-sex couples. With opposite sex couples the incentives were created to
(a) increase future generations of Americans (raised by both biological parents),Same sex couples do not have the capacity for a fruitful union (while opposite sex couples typically do have the capacity for fecundity), and therefore normatively will not
(b) to favor models where one spouse tends the children while the other spouse works, and
(c) to provide for a spouse who, having stayed at home to tend the children, does not have a gainful source of employment.
(a) increase future generations of Americans (raised by both biological parents -- as it stands, begetting children still requires both a man AND a woman),
(b) require a spouse to stay home to raise kids they don't beget, or
(c) require a spouse to sacrifice career for kids they never begot in the first place.
To the rebuttal that we allow infertile couples to marry I would say the following: (1) to require a fertility test would likely be an invasion of privacy under the famed privacy penumbra of the Constitution justifying abortion and contraception, and (2) even "infertile" couples sometimes conceive. Additionally, even infertile heterosexual couples are still of the same kind as fertile couples, whereas same-sex couples are different in kind.
To the rebuttal that same-sex couples often bring children into the relationship, I would say the following: (1) children do best across the board (absent abuse/neglect) in households with both biological parents present (therefore, those are the types of relationships the government should incentivize) and (2) justifying marriage because there are two caretakers of an already present child would also seem to require governmental acknowledgment of tax benefits, Social Security benefits, etc. where a single mother and her child move in with the single mother's sister. Two caretakers, one child, why not marriage? Remember, what's good for the goose is good for the gander...
So, viewed through this lens, it would seem that IF civil unions were allowed (which I think they ought not be), differences in benefits would still be legitimate under a state's interest test.
3. Building off the last point, is what's being sought a governmental recognition (using your tax dollars) that two people like each other a whole, whole lot? Ought the government to dole out benefits merely on the basis of affection? Really...what is the state's interest in recognizing civil unions at all? There's a clear reason for recognizing marriage -- the good of any potential offspring which are normatively the result of such unions -- but I simply don't see the analog interest for same-sex couples.
4. Most of the non-tax related privileges of marriage can be obtained through free powers of attorney, free wills and joint bank accounts, which, even after you pay the $5 required for a notary public, are less expensive than a marriage license. Hospital visitation rights, health decisions, unlimited financial discretion -- it's all there. No additional legislation required and easy as pie. So why the push?
The answer, of course, is that the law is a teacher. It has a didactic function in society, informing us of where the moral lines are.
Don't believe it? Look at what no-fault divorce laws and mandatory integration laws have wrought, to give examples where I both disagree and agree with the pedagogy. The law deeply and significantly informs our cultural mores. What's being sought is a normalization of same-sex activity, and once legally recognized you can expect your child to have to read And Tango Makes Three before leaving the second grade, making your actual "civil right" of being able to educate your progeny in the way you see fit far more difficult.
5. The interviewee manages to interject racism several times into the argument. This is unfortunate, because it clouds the issue. That is, unless the logic for one implicates the other...and if that's the case, she'd better start addressing polygamy and categorical bans on incestuous marriages between consenting adults.
Of course, there's more...but you begin to see what it takes to rebut a short radio interview...