Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gay marriage - questions

The gay marriage debate is extremely interesting. I have a few issues that never seem to be resolved, and are often bypassed in discussion on the matter.

1. Marriage is a religious institution essentially designed to encourage conformity to a norm of one sexual partner, and for specialisation of labour in raising children. Why do so many gay people want to acknowledge this ancient religious anti-gay institution at all? In Australia there are almost no external benefits (in the form of tax treatment, visas, welfare etc) for marriage over de facto relationships. Why not just promise each other you'll be faithful till death do you part? In fact, why do straight people continue to be married (I am, and have my reasons, but I'll keep them for another time).

2. If people want 'marriage equality' why can't I marry my sister? Or my mother? Surely to be equal ALL marriage between consenting adults must be allowed? After all, the main social problems of genetic abnormalities from inbreeding can be solved by IVF - the same way gay couples are having children. In fact, two gay men who happen to be brothers should also be able to marry, no? It is love between two adults, so what's wrong with it? I can't believe anyone could argue for gay marriage and not for sibling marriage, especially between gay siblings, since the arguments are all the same.

3. Any study showing the 'superior' outcomes of children from gay couples (of which there are a few - here's a starting point for some academic research) must control for incomes and other social factors. I have a hard time believing that the 'gay couples with children' sample of society has a similar income distribution to 'heterosexual couples with children' and we know this is a huge factor in child development.

4. Is the desire to have children not in any way related to the desire to mate with the opposite sex? I would have thought that the two are somehow related, which makes me feel like there is more of a 'conforming to social identity' issue at play over the desire to be a progressive gay couple with children.

5. Are children raised by gay parents more or less likely to be gay themselves? It seems intuitive that they would be far more likely, both because one parent would be a biological parent, and the nurturing and exposure to 'gay' behaviour. Is this good or bad? Are children really getting a choice? Will marriage legitimise being gay as normal? Is that a problem?

6. Should gay couples be allowed to adopt children? Why not? Should IVF treatment for lesbian couples be subsidised by Medicare? Surely not.  It isn't a medical condition. If they want to pay the full cost for privately provided IVF from a voluntary donor, so be it.  If they want to meet a guy at a bar and do it the old-fashioned way, that is fine too.  But what about gay male couples? What about married gay brothers? Will recognition of marriage be a stepping stone to more subsidies for gay families?

7. What legal rights exist for the biological parent of the child who is not part of the 'parent couple'? If the relationship breaks down, will the courts decide in favour of the biological gay parent, or the surrogate biological parent?  Will marriage affect this decision?

8. If two children from gay family each have one of the parents as biological, and the other parent a different surrogate (so they are not 'blood relations'), can they be married?  What about if these two children are gay?

In any case, I always wonder why people don't just say why they feel gay marriage is unacceptable instead of beating around the bush about 'equality'. And those who so strongly support gay marriage should think about the flow-on implications to the role of government, the courts, the rights of parents and health care.

If you can't tell, I see no good reasons in favour of gay marriage, and plenty of unresolved issues surrounding rights of married gay couples, particularly regarding children.  Of course, I have no problem with two adults choosing to have a relationship with each other, regardless of their gender.


  1. Hahah are you deliberately stirring?

    I think it's probably a little odd that you question the concept of marriage for anyone that's not religious - but don't explain why you are married yourself. Potentially leaves you wide open to a left hook.

    Isn't it just simply about equality? (By no means is 'just' & 'simply' implying equality of opportunity isn't a massive ideal to strive for) This is the cornerstone of a moral push against discrimination in Western society.

    Science - should probably use more of it when throwing around intuition in a pretty fiery topic like this

    I think half the problem with the anti-gay marriage argument is just that there's not much to it - hence the beating of bushes. (Even the Christian polls are changing!)

    as for all the other 'issues' - society needs something to talk about - we can't have lawyers going hungry now....

  2. Yes, I am deliberately stirring. But seriously, we say equality, but what we mean is often something different, and it's not till you dissect the issue you find the true meaning.

    For the approaching left hook, I guess one of the main reasons I am married is because my values align with the institution of marriage, and marriage signals that to my wife, family, friends, soceity at large. Also it is partly due to social norms as well.

    Therefore, that's why I find it difficult to understand why gay people, whose values obviously do not align with the insitution of marriage, so desperately want to be married.

    I'm not sure what your point about science is.

    What does Steven Pinker have to say about gay marriage?

  3. My point is that we don't hear the legal complications about gay parents and how marriage will affect this - eg

  4. I'm interested in the 'institution of marriage'..... when you say values do you mean religious?

    If not, then isn't a signal to family & friends as you say, shown through the tool of marriage - which is exactly what gays want, the ability to use the same tool as everyone else for the same purpose.

    I think understanding the 'institution of marriage' is the key to understanding the 'anti' argument. If it's religious then atheists shouldn't be allowed to be married. If it's because of tradition then every wedding should be paid for by the bride's parents or it's all off....

    My point about science is, IF you're going to say children of gays are more likely to be gay, you need evidence (unless you're a politician or a trolling journalist)

    Steven Pinker said (for middle income average people about personality traits) "identical twins are 50% similar whether they grow up together or apart".

    No doubt there will be legal complications as you've pointed out - it's going to be tricky - it's tricky enough for hetero couples!!!

  5. Who says all gay couples 'values obviously do not align with the insitution of marriage'?

    The ritual of a wedding is a very powerful institution, and becomes deep seated in people's (especially women) life goals from an early age - often before puberty. Do you think that all just flies out the window when you find a person you love that is the same gender?

    Marriage is a personal and social ritual, with the social part revolving around acceptance and celebration by friends, family and by the larger society. Right now it's not possible to complete the ritual because it is not accepted by the larger society. As a society we are refusing to allow gay couples to have, what many hetero couples call, the 'best day of their life'.

    Why? Because it's not clear how gay couples would split a child in a divorce? Because their kids might be gay too? I don't know how marriage is connected to these issues, as couples will live together and find ways to have children together regardless of social acceptance. You're best argument connect to marriage, and not a general problem understanding the details of same sex relationships, is the first. Why do they want to in the first place?

    This is your reasoning against gay marriage. You can't emphasis with gay couples. They are as abnormal in your eyes as incest, so if we open the gates for these freaks we might as well open the gates for all the other forms of perversion. It's not an argument against more equality (that's moving the line of acceptability - not removing it).

    That's what the argument boils down to - does society accept same sex relationships as being as legitimate as hetero relationships?

    It's not an evidence based question. We don't need proof that the kids will grow up OK. We don't apply the same standards to marriage now. Everyone's scarred by their parents to some degree.

    It's just a question of acceptance. Back in the day it wasn't accepted that women were responsible enough to vote. It wasn't accepted that Indigenous Australians were citizens of the country. You can probably find people who still follow these lines, but as a society we changed the rules. Today it's not accepted that same sex couples' relationships are as legitimate as hetero couples', but that idea is changing.

  6. I should add that I disregarded you're 'not that there's anything wrong with that' line at the end. You can't accuse other people of avoiding the acceptance line, then avoid it yourself by saying 'It's not that I don't accept it, I do in spirit, I just don't see any reason to do any of the things that real acceptance means'.

  7. 1) Marriage has not always been a religous institution, it just is perpetuated so amongst Judaeo-Christian societies. Marriage was originally property contract law, love and so-called reproductive stability came into it much later. If marriage remained an agreed contract law between two consenting adults, with a third party as witness, there would be no issue. You could perform the ceremony either in a church, park or pub - all would be legitimate forms of marriage. Churches would remain the right to refuse to perform a ceremony for a gay couple, but everyone would retain the right to marriage according to their belief.

    2) Straw man arguments, like the beastiality and paedophilia straw man arguments and I would argue, insulting. Whilst your examples would be consensual and of two adults, realisitically those marriages would be rare and much more difficult to obtain a third party witness etc. Gay siblings, even more rare.

    3) That's a peer review issue, not one for the LGBT community. If socioeconomic factors are a huge contributor to development, should we restrict heterosexual parenting to those meeting socioeconomic standards? Is providing low income parents welfare incentivising formation of family structures harmful for children?

    4) I think that is terribly simplistic. Google natalism for starters.

    5) There is a large body of conflicting evidence on what determines homosexuality. One of the strongest indicators relies on the mother's role in epigenetics, and also how many sons a woman has had. There are indeed environmental, peer and hormonal influences as well, but there is no definitive evidence to support the theory that gay fathering and parenting generates gay children, or influences their sexual development.

    6) This is one area of the debate that needs further discussion, hopefully without discrimination and hyperbole. Gay brothers again? Please.

    7) That would come down to contract law between the 3 parties.

    8) Again, what are the odds? Homosexuality isn't a 24/7 Jerry Springer show. Just apply the heterosexual law - can step-brothers and step-sister's marry?

    What drivel. There are actually a number of problem's with heterosexual marriage law, institutions, family structure and adherence - I don't see any questioning why marriage isn't working anymore what with a %40 divorce rate.

    As a libertarian atheist heterosexual man, I have no issues with gay marriage and thoroughly believe that marriage is nothing more than a commitment between two consenting adults before third party witnesses, demonstrated via signing an agreed marriage contract and whatever ceremony is desired. Unfortunately the government, the ACL and the public don't quite see it that way.

  8. Thanks for the detailed thoughtful responses velocity and anon.

    To continue the discussion (after all, I wrote my post as a list of questions because I honestly haven't heard well justified answers), here are some further responses.

    "That's what the argument boils down to - does society accept same sex relationships as being as legitimate as hetero relationships?"
    I would say it does it a surprising degree.

    I guess I am not clear about the reasons for wanting to be allowed to marry, because in my mind it is a little like a gay nightclub saying no straight people allowed. Would straight people be upset for not being allowed into the club? Why do they want to be in anyway? The point is, at the moment, marriage is a hetero club and it appears that many (although far fewer than even a decade ago) are willing to change the identity of 'their club' in the name of equality - can't a new club (ritual) be created?

    Are there gay people who don't want to be able to marry? What are their reasons?

    The libertarian would say that marriage is not a club but a private contract between two people and the government should stay out. Fair enough. Why then are polygomous marriages not allowed? They are voluntary private contracts, and they are recognised by many countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

    "they are as abnormal in your eyes as incest,"
    So you believe incest is abnormal but homosexuality is normal? Velocity noted that my argument about incest was a straw man. The same libertarian reasons being gay should be socially acceptable are the same reasons incest should be? Consenting adults? If it doesn't matter what gender, why what bloodline? Marrying cousins has a long history and is currenlty legal in Australia, as are marriages to aunts or uncles, nieces or nephews (but not a parent, grandparent or child).

    Are you both comfortable with that? You would attend a wedding of cousins, or a 50 year old uncle and his 18 year old niece, and not feel a little uneasy? What if that uncle is already married to another niece? Maybe think "should they be allowed to do that?" Or are you both such pure libertarians you would celebrate that they had the chance to marry?

    I have noted in the past I see no reason for brothers and sisters or cousins not to be in a relationship together. But I don't think they should be able to be married.

    (it was in a discussion about this quote and there is an interesting article on an incest case in Germany here,1518,540831,00.html)

  9. cont...

    You paraphase my statement as "...I just don't see any reason to do any of the things that real acceptance means"
    I guess that's my point - what would real acceptance look like. Is same-sex marriage what it looks like? Is that all? Do gay people feel like allowing gay marriage is a symbol of acceptance? If so, is there anything else that would be equally as symbolic?

    "Marriage is a personal and social ritual, with the social part revolving around acceptance and celebration by friends, family and by the larger society."
    I agree that marriage means different things to different people, and I guess that's why the debate exists at all, and why I also asked for views on why hetero couples continue to be married (or not).

    I actually agree that there are a number of problems with heterosexual marriage, and the rights surrounding IVF donor parents, parental responsibility after divorce etc are still unclear. This is probably your (and anon's) best argument. Probably some of my points are arguments against marriage in general. Which again gets back to my point 1.

    re 4) it was a question, and not directly related to gay marriage - in the spirit of why do gay people want to be married (using the club idea). I did in fact google natalism and a quote that stuck with me was - "Their personal identity is defined by parenthood." Which I guess is my point. How do gay people internally reconcile these desires to have a family and a desire for the same sex? These appear (at least until recently) mutually exclusive.

    re 3) I read an article which lead to this post that did cite evidence that homosexual parents were a positive factor in child development outcomes. Of course, the literature on the topic is full of bias in both directions. So we agree it is a peer review issue.

    Anyway, if either of you care to respond, particularly an explanation of why incest is abnormal and cousins shouldn't be married, and why homosexuality is normal and gay couples should be able to marry, I'd be very interested.

  10. Generally, two (or more) enthusiastically consenting adults should be able to define their relationship in whichever way they choose. Having actual laws that criminalise the ways in which enthusiastically consenting adults choose to view their relationship seems to fall outside the jurisdiction of the state, in my opinion.

    I tend to agree with you when it comes to buying into marriage as an institution at all, but I think that equally applies to straight, gay, queer etc etc etc relationships across the board - just as you would find many heterosexual couples who are unwilling to marry, you would find many homosexual etc couples who are unwilling to marry. Big deal! Don't like marriage? Don't get one! Lucky for me, no-one's saying that heterosexual are required, by law, to marry, so I'm cool :)

    '"Their personal identity is defined by parenthood" ... How do gay people internally reconcile these desires to have a family and a desire for the same sex? These appear (at least until recently) mutually exclusive'
    How do infertile, heterosexual people internally reconcile these desires etc etc etc?

    Heeeeeeyyyyyneyyyyway. To TOTALLY go back to an OLD argument, what are you thoughts on this poster, brandished on bus stops all over town?

  11. -- this one shows it a little bit better :)

  12. Jes + James. thanks for the comment.

    I assume this means you are fine with cousins and brothers and sisters having relationships, or group relationships (which, if you are, I agree). But does that mean marriage should be completely redefined as being a private contract between parties involved? And if so, why not simply have a private contract outside of the Marriage Act? Or should be scrap the marriage act altogether?

    The problem is that many pro-gay marriage advocates would likely be against polygamous or incestuous marriage. The pro gay marriage position is then essentially an argument to take and unequal institution and make it another unequal institution, which seems rather odd. Would you support equal rights for black people, but not asians and indians?

    I don't think an infertile heterosexual couple, who would essentially have a medical condition, is anything like a gay couple, who may be perfectly capable of reproducing with a partner of the opposite sex. It is like the hetero couple has been training to be a tennis champion but gets an injury and can't be (doing all the right things), and the gay person is training for water polo and wonders why the aren't a tennis champion. You are playing the wrong game.

    I still believe gay couples should be able to pursue their own relationships as they desire, including adopt and have IVF treatment should they wish, as I believe cousins and polygamous people should. I would support a push to remove the State's role in marriage altogether, but not a push for one minority group alone to join the club. While I don't support gay marriage, I am not against it, simply explaining that there are valid reasons for people to be against gay marriage which the gay agenda simply palm off as bigoted and unequal.

    RE: the Underbelly ad, I have not problem with it. I didn't have a major problem with the other ad, but I can understand that some people do. If you didn't realise, the debate, particularly the facebook conversation was particularly one-sided and blind to the actual arguments at hand.

  13. Aha I finally understand what you're getting at! - I generally understand & partly agree.

    Although, I think it's a more a symbolic equality then literal. Marriage is representative of wider discrimination of homosexuality. So it's not so much about being part of a 'club' but part of society in general. It's only cultural discrimination after all - not like the evolutionary disgust at getting it on with your sibling....

    As for other acceptable sexual minorities that want to get married (or generally accepted) I do struggle with finding examples. You say incest - but I think there is good argument in discouraging it. Polygamy, maybe we don't allow three-way marriages, but I think there is a difference between 'wanting' to be polygamous and being 'born' gay.

    So I'm still not sure there a too many valid reasons against gay marriage.... just because the institution they want to enter has issues doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to participate.

    It's going to be interesting watching the Courier Mail tackle gay IVF etc...

  14. "I think there is a difference between 'wanting' to be polygamous and being 'born' gay". Well, I don't really. But why does it matter?

    You used "evolutionary disgust " to describe incest only... yet gay incest should be fine though?

    "not sure there a too many valid reasons against gay marriage" Well, if your don't think they are valid, then there aren't valid reasons against polygamy either (given its wide cultural acceptance).

    But the invalid reasons are the same in both cases.

    I liked the answer to a question about the gay marriage rally in Brisbane here

  15. I think it's a valid point that it's illogical to replace an unequal system with a different unequal system. If straight people are allowed to marry, and gay people are allowed to marry, then everyone who wants to get married (enthusiastically consenting adults etc etc) should be able to get married. Under the Marriage Act. Because if all the relationships are considered equal, then what's the point of separating them out? Unless we want to abolish the Marriage Act, which I am not opposed to.

    People are allowed to fight for their own interests, even if it means that they are failing to consider the interests of others. It is not the role of the LGBT community to fight for the recognition of polyamorous relationships (although they sometimes do - incest is generally not accepted across the board and (this might just be my own prejudice showing here) there may be some complications here proving enthusiastic consent).

    The problem I see with your tennis/waterpolo analogy is that there is an underlying assumption that the waterpolo player had an option to play tennis, and chose not to. I don't believe that this element of choice exists with sexual preference.

    I'm still not really sure what the valid reason are for people to be against gay marriage - i can understand many valid reasons for people to be against marriage as an institution, but I have yet to hear an argument why gay people, specifically, should be unable to marry that is not bigoted and unequal. The mere fact that marriage is flawed, and that LGBT campaigners are not always perfect egalitarians is an insufficient argument against allowing gay marriage.

    The reason I posted the Underbelly ad is that it is clearly more overtly sexual (and violent!) than the other ad, but we haven't heard anything from those claiming that they don't want their children exposed to sexuality in outdoor advertising. They certainly haven't been removed near schools etc. This says to me that the ACL et al were not so concerned with overt sexuality as they were with homosexual sexuality. I think there was a reason the facebook discussion was very one-sided, and not so much blind to the arguments at hand, but just wary that the arguments that were being used were disingenuous.

  16. On polygamous vs gay. I think there is a difference - nature/nurture. You don't choose to be gay (generally). You may argue that men are born polygamous & woman aren't, but it all runs in circles - at the end of a day polygamy is a cultural/personal decision....

    However in my opinion it's a moot point - anyone should be allowed to marry if there's mutual consent. Which brings me to the exceptions in my view....

    Underage marriage (your link reminded me of this) some are too young to get married. Culture defines this, but IMO I think for good reason, basically youngins' haven't had the opportunity to mature enough independently to make such lifelong decisions.

    Incest - pretty strong biological reasons to discourage this! Or maybe the illegality should just extend to pregnancy (which could cover the gay brother/sister thing). Academic IMO - I don't think you're going to get too many people in this boat.

    But at the end of the day I'm talking trivialities, Jes + James got to the heart of it all when they said;

    "I have yet to hear an argument why gay people, specifically, should be unable to marry that is not bigoted and unequal. The mere fact that marriage is flawed, and that LGBT campaigners are not always perfect egalitarians is an insufficient argument against allowing gay marriage"

    Interesting point on ACL & advertising - I wonder why they are so specifically vocal on some things... Also interesting is the internal polling on gay marriage at ACL has changed substantially in support of - just not a majority yet (sorry con't find my source).

  17. I have enjoyed this little chat by the way!

  18. Yes, nice discussion. I am happy to support a equal marriage agenda for all, no doubt. I am curious about how many pro gay marriage advocates would do the same. The great irony would be that some people lobbying for the right for gays to marry would be disgusted at suggesting the rights to polygamous marriage.

    Also, you both suggested that being gay is not a choice, and Dan suggested polygamy might be. It shouldn't matter, and I doubt the science will ever be settled (btw I am now reading Blank Slate). Regarding the 'playing the wrong game' argument, to me it is like a dwarf trying to reconcile his desire to be a champion basketballer - it wasn't his choice to be a dwarf, and he will just have to deal with it. Sometimes he just has to accept he was born that way and his options are limited. Would be obvious that if being gay is natural for gay people, that not procreating would also be natural for them?

    Anyway, it seems that we do all agree that marriage is inherently unequal, and while there is no reason for gay people not to have the chance, there is also no reason for other sexual types to have the chance.

  19. Maybe not relevant but a good read;

    "I just want my normal gay son back."

  20. I'm still don't get your real argument. I see all your points, but remain unconvinced.

    You won't support gay marriage until everyone else supports all forms of marriage? There's no 'a move in the right direction is a good move'? It's just all or nothing. So if you can't do it properly, noone should be able to do it? You can't apply that line to gay marriage without applying it to hetero marriage, unless you get back to the fact that one is acceptable and another isn't, and that you've drawn the line with hetero's on one side and gay, incestuous and potato lovers on the other.

    Being gay is a choice, so if you choose it be prepared for the inevitable fixed consequences. Only acceptance of gay marriage is a choice by the larger society and isn't as inevitable as a dwarf not being a great basketball player...

    Marriage is a straight only club, so gay people must not want to enter? So poor people don't want to be in a country club? If a country club starts letting in plebs it's no longer the same country club, but it could still be a nice place.

    Marriage is a bad institution so noone should want to join it. I agree with this the most, and believed it for many years. Given we are both now married shows it's a BS argument when the right person comes along.

    I think the thing that gets me is that I didn't choose my partner. I fell in love. The same way you don't have a choice in falling off a cliff, if you're at the top with nothing underneath it's inevitable that gravity will pull you down. It was crazy and irrational, and a whole lot of fun and heartbreak. Large parts of both our families were against it because we are from different cultures. I could have chosen not to pursue it, but I had no choice over the feeling of love, lust and attachment she inspired. I can imagine if that person was a boy instead of a girl. I would still want to get married, have children and live a normal life. I could choose not to pursue those feelings, but they would always be there.

    Try it yourself - try imagine choosing not to love your wife? Sure, maybe you will fall in and out of love, but that's based on feelings you don't choose. You can choose to marry or divorce based on those feeling - many people don't have that choice. Sure there's people who love their sister that don't have the choice either, but I'd like to see you halt a gay wedding until the hypocrites agree to let siblings marry after them.

    Maybe I could become a priest, where I wouldn't be expected and pushed by unaccepting peers to find a girl who doesn't bring those feelings of love and lust. I could hope I wouldn't have urges bubbling up, but I doubt it would work. I could try to become 'cured' though therapies that have not been shown to work beyond using repression.

    Somehow I don't believe they would work on me now, so I don't believe they would work on anyone else, weather they like the same or the opposite sex. I also don't think it would work on incestuous siblings, but that doesn't mean I have to accept it. Maybe when I'm older I will, but right now that's a red herring.

  21. Having now read the discussion, I am closer to understanding where you are coming from Cameron. Though it must be said, your stream of conciousness blog post did appear quite similar to the usual bigoted anti-gay list. Hence my reference to straw man arguments.

    First, to answer your request - incest is "abnormal" in that there are thought to be biological factors that repel attraction to our siblings, generated over the years by the continual close contact and psychological understandings of the family unit. Adding to that, it can be hard for family, society and the law to seperate and identify consenusal incest from non-consensual abuse; often due to the vagaries of coercion or undue influence. Cousins of course is a different case and are probably not incest in the true sense. Regardless, these are clearly not issues which plague homosexuality, rather they are just as rare and difficult as in the heterosexual community. Hence for me, equating these two cases is a generalisation fallacy. Allow gay marriage simply comes down to an individual rights issue, as I declared in my earlier comment that marriage is nothing more than a commitment between two consenting adults before third party witnesses, demonstrated via signing an agreed marriage contract and whatever ceremony is desired. There is nothing special about this that precludes any form of marriage between consenting adult citizens.

    I am in support of completely abolitioning the Marriage Act. However that is not a political reality, instead just moving the goal posts to allow gay marriage is the most feasible solution in the short to medium term. Is this unequal and fraught with conflicts? Of course, but as this discussion points out some of these can be applied to heterosexual marriage.

    The other issue I have with including incest in the discussion is that this minority can very easily be used to obfuscate the original argument ie whether a large percentage of the population should be allowed to marry.

    Would I attend an incestual wedding? Quite possibly, though I would comfortably bet on the fact I would never get an invite, since such a wedding happening is unlikely.

    Re polygamous relationships and marriage - I see no issue there as long as it's consensual, and all parties are aware.

    With regards to parenthood, I think you have to be careful that you are not assuming heterosexuality and desire for children are necessary companions. If it were, all heterosexual people would desire children. However they don't, and conversely homosexual individuals don't all abhor the idea of children.

    In the past and quite likely even today, one solution was for homosexual individuals to marry a member of the opposite sex in order for proceation and acceptance, but then still satisfy their desires discreetly. Is that marriage? Why should it be a forced alternative?

    Also, be careful when using the terms "natural". Not all "natural" things are necessarily linked to genes that are passed on, it could be that homosexuality is influenced epigenetics for example, like height, weight and IQ. Again, there is no consensus.

  22. Anon,
    "I see all your points, but remain unconvinced." As long as you see that there are arguments against gay marriage, whether you think they are valid or not, it should at least bring the debate up from the 'your a homophobic bigot to not want gay marriage', which is basically the argument that prompted this post (although I was not the one to argue against gay marriage).

    "there are thought to be biological factors that repel attraction to our siblings, generated over the years by the continual close contact and psychological understandings of the family unit"
    But if you are biological siblings not raised under the same roof...?

    In any case, I think Anon is on on the right track saying that a step to wards more equality is better. Which again, is a threat to the traditionalist who actually fears that gay marriage is just the first step of many in an attempt to completely 'undermine' the institution - next stop polygamy (even though Australia recognises polygamous marriages performed in countries where it is legal).

    Maybe I have detailed the arguments against gay marriage because I live in a fairly 'gay area' where support for gay marriage is the norm. However many supported have little regard to the fact that maybe those who oppose gay marriage have valid reasons. And maybe these pro-gay marriage supporters might have reasons against polygamy that are identical to the reasons some heteros are against gay marriage.

    It seems we did all agree, surprisingly, that marriage between consenting adults should be allowed in any form, but getting from the laws of 2011 to that point needs to be done in small steps.

  23. Don't forget that people build arguments around their existing values, and generally don't build their values around the best arguments. Talking about a subject that's built around values and emotions is very different to economic principles and statistics.

    The lack of valid arguments for a position is an easy way to identify a bigot. Hence if I can't connect the dots someone's trotted out, I assume they are either can't or haven't tried to challenge the flaws in their own arguments.

    That said it's worth complementing the blog you have here. 99% of the internet is not people discussing ideas, but people bashing heads while strengthening their own beliefs. This one is part of the 1% where you can listen and learn, then expect the same treatment.