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A particularly idiotic anti-gay-marriage piece

February 18th, 2004 (10:10 am)

current mood: discontent

Somebody in the office regularly prints out columns from TownHall.com, a conservative site, and leaves them in the men's room to be read. I read them; most of them are garbage, factually or logically flawed, and I throw them out. (The ones that are merely expressing an opinion I disagree with I leave alone.) Today there was a particularly stupid one on gay marriage. The author asks, what if someone wants to marry a horse? What about plural marriages? Why can't homosexual couples get the same rights some other way--say, instead of getting insurance from their employer, get the money that the employer pays for insurance?

The level of handwaving here is amazing. Marrying a horse is a reductio ad absurdum; you obviously can't marry an animal because marriage is a contract, and an animal doesn't have the mental capacity to enter a contract. It's pretty clear that the only reason the author mentions horses is to lump together plural marriage with bestiality. He presents plural marriage as being obviously nonsense, but it's not; some people make it work. Plural marriage seems difficult enough (based on the few I've seen) that it may never be a popular option; but that's not a good enough reason to ban it. (Mind you, its economic impact might have to be different. If my employer offers me health insurance for my family, it's reasonable to charge me more if I have five spouses than if I have one.)

And the claim that homosexuals can get the rights of married couples without being married is absurd. The example author gives is particularly weak, because insurance is extra expensive for individuals; I could not possibly insure my family for the same price my employer pays for our coverage. More to the point, why should homosexuals have to keep fighting separately for every individual benefit that married heterosexuals get? Maybe they can get health coverage by picking the right employer, and lay out their financial accounts so that they have joint control over all of them, and so forth; but what happens when one of them has to go to the hospital, and the other isn't allowed into the room?

I'm not sure whether to be relieved that this level of garbage is the best the anti-gay-marriage people can come up with, or depressed that people seem to be listening to it.


Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: March 3rd, 2004 10:33 am (UTC)

I'd like to hear a conservative talk about the marriage-as-a-contract issue. And then I'd like to hear them talk about "what if only heteros could open a business?" which is related to contracts and general business stuff.

Posted by: Raf (greatsword)
Posted at: March 3rd, 2004 11:57 am (UTC)

I'm depressed that people are listening to it, myself.

On the insurance issue alone it's pretty blatant. Three possibilites: Both partners work and take insurance from their own jobs. No change. One partner doesn't have employer supplied insurance. Currently his healthcare is sponsored by _everyone_ who has insurance. Allowing him to get insurance from his partner's work saves me money. Is there some part of this that's hard to understand?

Domestic partnership has been held up as a perfectly valid alternative that doesn't offend the clerics. The only problem with this is that marraige is a special tax status. We just got the lecture on benefits. Our company will provide health coverage to domestic partners, opposite or same sex. Unfortunately, you have to pay taxes on the money spent by the company. For married couples, both employer and employee contributions can be taken out pre-tax.

Most of the rights - minus some tax categorization - can be established without marriage. For the most part, though, actually marrying the couple in the eyes of the state is both simpler and brings in more tax revenue - the marriage penalty has been reduced but not eliminated.

Too bad bigotry plays so well in an election year.

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