Gay Congressman's Spouse Denied Benefits

Copingsaw wrote:

I struggle with this debate. I will admit something inside of me finds it hard to accept the concept of gay marriage. It just feels wrong. Marriage, as Johnny said, should be between a man and a woman with the goal of procreation. Thats how it has always been.

Marriage, yes, has always been between a man and a woman. But it hasn't always been for the goal of procreation. Infertile people get married all the time, or sterilized people, or impotent people, or people who've lost the use of the lower half of their bodies We don't deny these people the ability to get married, just because they cannot procreate. I don't see why homosexuals should be any different from a legal standpoint.

From a religious standpoint, well, I don't see how you can force a church that thinks homosexuality is a sin to marry gay people. But churches aren't the only ones that do marriages, and not all churches are unaccepting of homosexuality. I don't see why the legal definition of marriage shouldn't expand past the religious one; it's even sort of a matter of separation of church and state, in a way. Or not. I don't know. It's still early.

If I felt we could magically revert the entire nation back to the glory of the suburbanite 50s, I'd probably support JMJ's views, too. Unfortunately, time and society only move in one direction, and once ideas get out, you can't stuff them back in.

Assuming that marriage laws have been written to protect women so they can rear children, is that something we really want to continue to institutionalize? I don't think it's a good idea anymore to encourage women to be barefoot, pregnant and uneducated. The government obviously has an interest in renewing its workforce and tax slaves and the standard atomic family unit certainly helps with that. But I don't feel the government has any place saying that there's only one way to raise children to be productive adults and that's the only way it will give you support.

Besides, considering the hellacious toll on a relationship that constantly being in the public eye takes, I think any spouse of a congressman or career politician deserves some compensation. My mother gets part of my father's military pension now that they're divorced. It's not because she needs help raising children, it's because being married to a military man is a pain in the butt and the gov't likes to say 'thank you for putting up with us' in cash.

JohnnyMoJo wrote:
You still haven't told me how you square your argument that the Left is "legislating to the exception" with the whole anti-gay marriage plank of the Republican Party's platform. Is that not legislating to the exception?

It is a specific topic that has broad support and is a wedge issue. The DOMA should be sufficient, and it was legislation to prevent the exception from becoming the rule.

That doesn't tell me anything. So it's ok to legislate to the exception as long as it Republicans doing it, but otherwise it is fundamentally wrong? I'd have thought you'd have a more substantive argument.

You seem willing to defend institutions that actually harm families (divorce, for example) but unable to accept institutions that create and sustain families, such as marriage between two committed people of any sex. You invoke this vague argument that gay marriage should be banned because it doesn't fit in with your idea of traditional marriage, yet the only justification that you give to support this position is a fairly sexist and narrow definition of how you would prescribe a woman's role in the family. I don't know that this argument has any place left to go.

One thing is for sure, better to be gay here than in the Middle East. I have a friend from Egypt and its flat out dangerous to be openly gay in many of those countries.

God, I hope that's not the standard we're using now to assess out civil rights law.

JohnnyMoJo wrote:
conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan

Conservative? No. South Park Republican? Yes (for some reason, I think he is even the one that coined that phrase)

Last I heard, being fiscally conservative, in favor of states rights, and hands off socially was considered "conservative". Boy has the definition of the word changed. You guys remember Goldwater don't you?

Vast numbers of laws about marriage accumulated over the centuries based on our experience with male and female relationships.

Vast numbers of laws about slavery accumulated over the centuries based on our experiences with it - but we were able to change those when it became clear it was a heinous institution. Even though it was cited as acceptable in our cultural moral guide, the Bible.

Did the lover give up a career to raise their children? I missed that part of the story. Or are you arguing that 'moral support' is all that is required to receive compensation?

I'm not aware that there is a litmus test of affection and support, or sacrifice, before a Congressional spouse is paid a benefit. Is that necessary? Did I miss something?

Race is not a part of the definition of marriage, therefore saying a black man cannot marry a white woman is discrimination against people, which the Constitution prohibits.

But it *was* part of the definition of marriage. Do you argue that when anti-mescegenation laws were on the books, they were Constitutional? I admit, to me that seems a difficult line to take, in view of history.

Now, of course, sexual orientation is indeed part of the law, due to the DOMA. Do you hold that that is unconstitutional, since it prohibits an action only if the person involved holds a certain physical characteristic?

I think that the very fact that so many people who do divorce later remarry shows that divorce, while not ideal, doesn't undermine the concept or the institution of marriage, even for those that are divorced.

In this, you literally argue that the ability to legally dissolve a marriage is evidence of the strength of the institution, in spite of the centuries of moral upset over the effects of divorce on marriage. Sir, I salute you for that convolution. I don't think I'd have the stones to argue divorce as a positive influence on marriage.

If I felt we could magically revert the entire nation back to the glory of the suburbanite 50s, I'd probably support JMJ's views, too.

We can, if we outlaw contraception and abortion and easy divorces.

Robear wrote:
If I felt we could magically revert the entire nation back to the glory of the suburbanite 50s, I'd probably support JMJ's views, too.

We can, if we outlaw contraception and abortion and easy divorces.

satirical rant>
Just outlaw new ideas of any kind. New ideas always bring trouble. Remember a simpler time? Before life got all complicated? Before people were allowed to think for themselves and a simple, contradictory guidebook for how to live as a great society was the only thing you needed to get along with other citizens* of your nation? (where citizens is defined as "free adult white males that own property and are smart enough to convolute said guidebook's message into anything they like") The neocon slogan for 2008 should be 'We fear change!'
/rant>

What I mean, Mix, is that those were three of the important social changes (along with desegregation) that defined the 1960's. That's literally the core of what modern social conservatives would like to see rolled back. They are more quiet on the whole racial issue, but there are areas - rural Virginia, for example - where that's just as large an issue.

I don't think it's a good idea anymore to encourage women to be barefoot, pregnant and uneducated.

You behave as if the majority of women that choose to stay home and raise children aren't doing so by choice. I would argue that the overwhelming majority of women that are stay-at-home moms do so voluntarily. And that includes the college-educated women that choose to drop out of the workforce once they have children.

So it's ok to legislate to the exception as long as it Republicans doing it, but otherwise it is fundamentally wrong? I'd have thought you'd have a more substantive argument.

No, the DOMA isn't legislating to the exception. I believe the example I gave about legislating to the exception was done by Republicans, and I said that was bad as well.

You invoke this vague argument that gay marriage should be banned because it doesn't fit in with your idea of traditional marriage, yet the only justification that you give to support this position is a fairly sexist and narrow definition of how you would prescribe a woman's role in the family.

Gay marriage isn't banned because there is no such thing as gay marriage (other than in MA). There is no need to ban something that doesn't exist.

Last I heard, being fiscally conservative, in favor of states rights, and hands off socially was considered "conservative". Boy has the definition of the word changed. You guys remember Goldwater don't you?

Obviously you don't remember Goldwater. When he was politically active, Barry Goldwater was so socially conservative, he made Reagan look like Ted Kennedy. Goldwater in '64 was the father of the modern social conservative movement. It was Goldwater that introduced the condition and quality of American morality and life as a subject of political debate. In fact, most of the objections liberals make about Bush being a theocrat today are rehashes of the criticisms against Mr. AuH2O. In '64, it was Goldwater that said, "It is impossible to maintain freedom and order and justice without religious and moral sanctions."

Vast numbers of laws about slavery accumulated over the centuries based on our experiences with it - but we were able to change those when it became clear it was a heinous institution. Even though it was cited as acceptable in our cultural moral guide, the Bible.

And those laws were changed primarily at the influence of Christian leadership. So perhaps you should allow them to again set the tone.

Do you argue that when anti-mescegenation laws were on the books, they were Constitutional?

Prior to passing the 14th Amendment, they were Constitutional, after its passage, they weren't.

Do you hold that that is unconstitutional, since it prohibits an action only if the person involved holds a certain physical characteristic?

Not at all. Every person of legal age in the United States has the ability to get married. Find a member of the opposite sex and try...I promise you'll be allowed to do so. We put all sorts of restrictions on who you can marry though. They have to be old enough, they can't already be married, they have to be human, they have to be of the opposite sex, etc.

I don't think I'd have the stones to argue divorce as a positive influence on marriage.

I believe I said I was against the looser divorce laws. What I said was that divorce doesn't threaten the institution of marriage. Redefining marriage threatens the institution of marriage. But nice try.

outlaw contraception and abortion and easy divorces.
What I mean, Mix, is that those were three of the important social changes (along with desegregation) that defined the 1960's. That's literally the core of what modern social conservatives would like to see rolled back.

Social conservatives would like to see abstinence promoted ahead of contraception, not ban contraception. Almost all social conservatives are vehemently against abortion as a form of birth control and would like to see it limited severely, but only some want to see a blanket ban. As for easy divorce, I think that ship has sailed, and most would like to see pre-marital counseling done before people get married, but I think that is a matter for the individuals, not the government.

JohnnyMoJo wrote:

Redefining marriage threatens the institution of marriage.

How so?

And those laws were changed primarily at the influence of Christian leadership. So perhaps you should allow them to again set the tone.

And they were *supported* by the influence of Christian leadership. They are still to this day supported in the Bible, complete with details on exactly how to manage, trade, take and free slaves. You can't claim Christian moral high ground on the issue of slavery.

In fact, I'd argue that the real movement against slavery came out of the Enlightenment, not Christianity, although some sects of Christianity (primarily nonconformist) did lead the Abolitionist movement, thus arguing directly against Biblical prescription and siding with Enlightenment thinkers in countries like England that well proceeded us in abolishing slavery.

Prior to passing the 14th Amendment, they were Constitutional, after its passage, they weren't.

Not true, they were upheld by the courts for almost exactly 100 years, from Pace vs. Alabama in 1883 (Supreme Court decision). That's 15 years after the 14th Amendment was passed. In 1967, they were declared unconstitutional; Alabama was the last to repeal theirs, in 2000, if you can believe it.

What I'm saying is that morally, your position resembles that of the anti-slavery and anti-segregation positions in it's argumentation, and you should give some clear thought to whether couples who differ from the norm for a reason of physiology don't fall under the 14th Amendment. Gay people are not criminalized in DOMA for an action, like sodomy, but rather for an accident of birth.

I hold that if you support DOMA, your argument has unavoidable similarities with supporting segregation and slavery. (I know that you don't, but I'd like to see how you seperate them; I suspect I know how you'll do it.)

I believe I said I was against the looser divorce laws. What I said was that divorce doesn't threaten the institution of marriage. Redefining marriage threatens the institution of marriage. But nice try.

In this you go against the Bible (right?) and hundreds of years of conventional Conservative wisdom. But hey, I gotta try. You wouldn't like a shoddy try, right?

Social conservatives would like to see abstinence promoted ahead of contraception, not ban contraception.

In spite of serious evidence that it does not work except when combined with contraceptive education? Heck, I'm all for presenting both; I understood the SC position to be that contraception should not be taught in an abstinence course.

Did the lover give up a career to raise their children? I missed that part of the story. Or are you arguing that 'moral support' is all that is required to receive compensation?

Hell if that was the criteria it would be the hired help that receives the pension for the majority of politicians.

JohnnyMoJo wrote:

Obviously you don't remember Goldwater. When he was politically active, Barry Goldwater was so socially conservative, he made Reagan look like Ted Kennedy. Goldwater in '64 was the father of the modern social conservative movement. It was Goldwater that introduced the condition and quality of American morality and life as a subject of political debate. In fact, most of the objections liberals make about Bush being a theocrat today are rehashes of the criticisms against Mr. AuH2O. In '64, it was Goldwater that said, "It is impossible to maintain freedom and order and justice without religious and moral sanctions."

I don't feel it's the government's job to legislate religious and moral sanctions. Partially because this country was founded as a place to be free from the trappings of state religions, but mostly because whenever the gov't does try to dictate morality it usually backfires. When the gov't gives discriminatory benefits to any group it just makes the rally against it louder and stronger. It's not the government's job to push morality, whether it's good for society as a whole, or not.

It's also not the government's job to define words, either. Remember when access used to be a thing and now it's something you do? Well let's make a federal law that says you can't use 'access' as a verb anymore! I'm currently in the process of writing a law to ban spelling words that end in 'ight' as 'ite.'

Not true, they were upheld by the courts for almost exactly 100 years, from Pace vs. Alabama in 1883 (Supreme Court decision). That's 15 years after the 14th Amendment was passed. In 1967, they were declared unconstitutional; Alabama was the last to repeal theirs, in 2000, if you can believe it.

You are working from the assumption of the 'Living Constitution', which says that the court opinion trumps the actual language of the document. I am working from the idea that the document means what it says, in which case the courts were wrong.

Gay people are not criminalized in DOMA for an action, like sodomy, but rather for an accident of birth.

Gay people aren't criminalized in DOMA at all. Kindly show me a gay person thrown in jail because of DOMA.

I hold that if you support DOMA, your argument has unavoidable similarities with supporting segregation and slavery.

So do the arguments against polygamy, bestiality, and incest. I assume you are still against those, right?

You are working from the assumption of the 'Living Constitution', which says that the court opinion trumps the actual language of the document. I am working from the idea that the document means what it says, in which case the courts were wrong.

A very principled position, but then why can they (via the DOMA) not be wrong here? Note that the structure of your argument is based on the Bible (which was morally wrong here) and traditional use (which was also morally wrong, in part because of Biblical teachings.) Absent that, what evidence is there that gay marriage is harmful? I put it to you that this is simply Conservative inertia and resistance to change, and that however well-intentioned that opposition, within say two generations it will go down like segregation and miscegenation. Sometimes (in my view) Conservatives need a bit of accelerating to accept change.

Gay people aren't criminalized in DOMA at all. Kindly show me a gay person thrown in jail because of DOMA.

Sorry, I should have said "penalized".

So do the arguments against polygamy, bestiality, and incest. I assume you are still against those, right?

I was never against polygamy. Bestiality and incest are objective harms that don't require religious frameworks to interpret. So those latter two don't equate, and polygamy, well, it works in many societies, current and past. I don't feel I need to have a problem with that, especially since I'm arguing to expand the institution of marriage in the West.

As usual, I want everyone to understand that Johnny does not believe I support bestiality or incest, and I don't think he's a slavemonger or anything like that. We just have finely tuned senses of argumentation, that's all.

Give it a few years once the stubborn ones die off it should be more acceptable. Happens almost every time.

Absent that, what evidence is there that gay marriage is harmful? I put it to you that this is simply Conservative inertia and resistance to change, and that however well-intentioned that opposition, within say two generations it will go down like segregation and miscegenation.

Frequently, we use hindsight as a determination of success. For example, if we knew then what we know now, would we have gone to war in Iraq? I'd say 'no'. If we knew the impact that LBJ's 'War on Poverty' or FDR's New Deal would have on society, would we have still done them? Probably no to the former and yes to the latter (I think no to both, but I am realistic). Likewise, if we knew what impact that loosening the divorce laws would have on families and children from broken homes, would we have so quickly moved to no-fault divorces? Probably not. A loosening would have happened, but it might have been more controlled or lessened in degree.

I argue that we don't fully know the impact that gay marriage will have, and therefore it should be approached cautiously. It is very easy to find an antecdote of a loving gay couple and want them to be happy. I have several gay friends that want to marry their partners. And I sympathize with their wants. I agree also that it is probably an inevitability. But that doesn't mean that I won't fight for it to be a gradual change as opposed to an overnight one.

So, folks, you can see our difference is actually one of degree, not kind. Amazing, ain't it? I love this site.

JohnnyMoJo wrote:

Frequently, we use hindsight as a determination of success. For example, if we knew then what we know now, would we have gone to war in Iraq? I'd say 'no'. If we knew the impact that LBJ's 'War on Poverty' or FDR's New Deal would have on society, would we have still done them? Probably no to the former and yes to the latter (I think no to both, but I am realistic). Likewise, if we knew what impact that loosening the divorce laws would have on families and children from broken homes, would we have so quickly moved to no-fault divorces? Probably not. A loosening would have happened, but it might have been more controlled or lessened in degree.

I argue that we don't fully know the impact that gay marriage will have, and therefore it should be approached cautiously. It is very easy to find an antecdote of a loving gay couple and want them to be happy. I have several gay friends that want to marry their partners. And I sympathize with their wants. I agree also that it is probably an inevitability. But that doesn't mean that I won't fight for it to be a gradual change as opposed to an overnight one.

Completely unsarcastically, this is quite a departure from my estimation of you. The above is a position I can respect and with which I can find commonality.

Completely unsarcastically, this is quite a departure from my estimation of you. The above is a position I can respect and with which I can find commonality.

No problem. And, completely unsarcastically, that is because you think that anyone 'irrational enough to believe in God' is an idiot, so you rarely actually listen to my points.

Give it a few years once the stubborn ones die off it should be more acceptable. Happens almost every time.

Case in point: legalizing pot. Once a good portion of the boomers who had the 'evil weed' myth shoved down their throats their whole life are gone, I think we'll get a much more rational policy.

Let me see if I'm understanding this. According to JMJ and others, two people who just "get together for gay sex" (which I read as gay men getting "married" in Massachusettes) shouldn't get spousal benefits. Most specifically because there's no real "family" involved (the raising of children, etc. etc. etc.). I would say the focus of the objection is based on the assumption of "2 gay people" does not equal "family."

If you follow the lawsuits in the various states at all closely, you'll notice that in general none of the plaintiffs actually match JMJ's objections. Heck, they might even have a better family life than say, the one I grew up in (parents divorced at age 6, dad a serious a**hole.)

So, let's take a look shall we, at the actual citizens of the U.S. who want their families and their relationships recognized by the state they live in. Keep in mind, they've been living this way without state recognition for a long time. They're not thinking, "ooh, look what you can do in MA, let's be gay."

Everytime I see an argument against gay marriage, it often is a thinly veiled protest against gay men. I've never seen lesbians who've been raising kids for 25 years together, get mentioned. Ever. Having lived in Greece for over a year now, I can at least tell you that if your argument comes down to "gay men are promiscuous and uninterested in raising families", let me assure you that from what I've seen over here, "straight men are promiscuous and uninterested in raising families" holds true about as often. Maybe they should ban straight marriages in Greece, because straight men in Greece seem to always be sleeping around and leaving their wife most of the responsibility of raising their kids. Gosh, these terrible men just seem to want sex and someone to do their laundry.

If you don't want "the exception" legislated to, for God's sake get to know people in the gay community. Make a lot of friends who are gay. Figure out that most *people* period want a loving, stable relationship, and that most gay folks I know are really tame, normal folks with normal families and normal lives. Legislate to that and gay marriage is a non-issue. Most of these folks have been "same-sex partnered" for a long time. Wouldn't it be nice if they could goto the beach without carrying 20 laminated pages of power of attourney in case of an accident and a trip to the ER?

JohnnyMoJo wrote:
Completely unsarcastically, this is quite a departure from my estimation of you. The above is a position I can respect and with which I can find commonality.

No problem. And, completely unsarcastically, that is because you think that anyone 'irrational enough to believe in God' is an idiot, so you rarely actually listen to my points. ;-)

I'm quite surprised by this as well, and I'd like to hear a little more, as I'm not quite in agreement, but I'm not far off.

Are you accepting gay marraige as an inevitability, or do you think that the concept of gay marraige isn't fundamentally a problem, just something to be approached with caution?

Are you accepting gay marraige as an inevitability, or do you think that the concept of gay marraige isn't fundamentally a problem, just something to be approached with caution?

I accept that it is an inevitability, probably within ten, definitely within twenty years. I don't know the social reprucussions, but I know they will be there, which is why I am opposed to wholesale legalization.

I actually think it will take longer than 20 years, Johnny.