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At nytimes.com, tomorrow's op-ed articles are up already, and they provide some surprises and some depressingly predictable writing. Given the news events of the past week, marriage equality is the subject of two of them. Maureen Dowd asks, in her usual snarky way, Will Gays Be Punished for Success? while Ross Douthat sighs, Marriage Looks Different Now. One of these articles is on our side (now isn't it better that this is being written by someone who IS one of us?) and the other isn't.

So let's see what the Good Gray Lady is publishing now as we go beyond the great orange headband to which the veil is attached.

As I mentioned in the comments on the last diary about la Dowd, for all her career she has tended to be a purse-lipped scold.  Only now, the people she'd scolding are the "conservative" members of the Supreme Court for suggesting the stuff the Chief Justice was trying to get Edith Windsor's attorney to agree to so the Court wouldn't have to discuss the concept of heightened scrutiny. Dowd describes this line of questioning thus:

GAYS might not win because they’ve already won?

That was the moronic oxymoron at the heart of the Supreme Court debate on same-sex marriage.

La Dowd is NOT amused. She scolds Justice Kennedy for not bringing the poetry she thought he brought to the Lawrence decision, and she describes Chief Justice Roberts on Wednesday as a man who was playing Karl Rove. This, as you have gathered, is not complimentary on her part. She is not pleased, either.
But Justice Roberts’s suggestion that gays are banishing a long, egregious history of blatant, disgusting, government-sponsored discrimination on their own is absurd. You could almost hear him thinking, “They’ve got ‘Glee,’ they’ve got Ellen, they’ve got Tammy Baldwin — what are they whining about?”
She doesn't think Earl Warren would have referred to the film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in the questioning that preceded the decision on Loving v Virginia
the justices struck down the law anyway because, as they said, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” (Paving the way for Clarence and Ginni Thomas to live happily ever after in Virginia.)
She reminds us that things are still very much less than ideal for the LGBT community in the United States, because, as I think I've mentioned more than a few times here,
Congress has passed no federal protections for gays on employment, housing and education. In 29 states, it is perfectly legal to fire someone because of his or her sexual orientation. The F.B.I. says the only uptick in hate crimes involves attacks on gays.

Thirty-one states have enacted Constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. Beyond the nine states where they can marry, plus D.C., gays may pick up Illinois and Delaware, but then there’s a hard stop. Those struck by Cupid in places like Alabama, Arkansas and Utah will long be left either moving or saying, “I’m deliriously, madly in love with you, but let’s leave it to the states, honey.”

Yes, Maureen, civil rights should NOT be left to the political process, especially not to statewide referenda. Agreed, agreed, agreed.

But then there's Mr, Douthat, who sees the overall decline in marriage as a result of efforts to secure marriage equality. Does he explain this? Well, sort of. Marriage, to him, IS in trouble:  

the marriage rate has been falling faster, the out-of-wedlock birthrate has been rising faster, and the substitution of cohabitation for marriage has markedly increased. Underlying these trends is a steady shift in values: Americans are less likely to see children as important to marriage and less likely to see marriage as important to childbearing (the generation gap on gay marriage shows up on unwed parenting as well) than even in the very recent past.
Is this the fault of efforts to secure marriage equality for same-sex couples? Well, um, there IS the economy, and there's what he describes as a "new understanding" of marriage as a "capstone" for achieving adulthood. But marriage equality? Douthat sees precisely what he wants to see:
But there is also a certain willed naïveté to the idea that the advance of gay marriage is unrelated to any other marital trend. For 10 years, America’s only major public debate about marriage and family has featured one side — judges and journalists, celebrities and now finally politicians — pressing the case that modern marriage has nothing to do with the way human beings reproduce themselves, that the procreative understanding of the institution was founded entirely on prejudice, and that the shift away from a male-female marital ideal is analogous to the end of segregation.
Ten years.  That would be since 2003. Did you forget, Mr. Douthat, that a bevy of states voted to restrict marriage by state constitutional amendment in 2004 and that voters rejected marriage equality by referendum in California and Maine in 2008? I'd say THAT was "willed naïveté" on his part.

What does he really want? He wants the pro-marriage equality people not to think of him as a bigot:

A more honest, less triumphalist case for gay marriage would be willing to concede that, yes, there might be some social costs to redefining marriage. It would simply argue that those costs are too diffuse and hard to quantify to outweigh the immediate benefits of recognizing gay couples’ love and commitment.
I think he's speaking for Ryan Anderson at the Heritage Foundation here too. If only the two of you were the reasonable men you pretend to be.

But no. More canards.

Such honesty would make social liberals more magnanimous in what looks increasingly like victory, and less likely to hound and harass religious institutions that still want to elevate and defend the older marital ideal.
Speaking for the Church too, are you? On Easter? Ah, well.

Frankly, there's been a decline in the so-called "conservative" (I really have trouble using that word for people who increasingly appear to me to be reactionary or at least resistant to change, whatever the change is) seat on the op-ed page. I can't see William Safire writing anything so squishy.  But at least we have Maureen.

Originally posted to Angry Gays on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 08:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Funny That Mr Douthat Didn't Mention.... (18+ / 0-)

    the divorce rate among heterosexual couples as one of the reasons people are cohabiting instead of marrying.  50% of marriages today end up in divorce.  
    Many people are children of divorce.  They don't believe in marriage anymore. It didn't work for their heterosexual parents, why should they take a stab at it?  

  •  Gays to the rescue! (22+ / 0-)

    Just like when we move into shitty rundown neighborhoods and spiff up long-forgotten jewels with fresh coats of paint and a little TLC we'll do the same for the faltering institution of marriage. We'll make it so hot and fun and exciting that everyone will want to be married again. You can't catch "being gay" but our absolutely fabulous style sure has a way of catching on...

    iow, whatever conservatives touch turns to shit but whatever gays touch increases in value. It's that way with property, fashion, music, and any manner of design and it will be the same with marriage.

    You're welcome.


    Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot • Mumford & Sons

    by jayden on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:42:32 PM PDT

  •  Conservatives just don't seem capable... (5+ / 0-)

    of grasping the fundamental concept of marriage being first and foremost of a legal nature, and not a spiritual one existing for the sole purpose of procreation.

    Marriage exists solely as a legally-binding foundation for sustainment of a mutually agreed upon relationship between two human beings. Anything else; any other reason is extraneous.

    Once legally-bound, there is no other earthly relationship that can be as fair and mutually beneficial (and most times cost-effective) to both parties involved; except for perhaps a lucrative, long term, win/win-type business deal.

    Both are bound by legal contract.
    Both can only be unbound by legal contract.

    I've kinda evolved on the idea of separating the legal aspect of marriage from the religious one. Why not have all marriages (gay, straight and interracial) performed before a district magistrate? And if a couple would like to have a religious ceremony to [in their minds] further sanction their marriage -- then the couple could have a church ceremony after.

    Seems pretty simple to me.

    Now, outside of the pig-headed, willfully-ignorant, dogmatic, collective mindset of the anti-equality crowd on the right... am I missing something?

    "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

    by markthshark on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:32:04 PM PDT

    •  The ceremony isn't what makes the marriage (6+ / 0-)

      a legal, binding contract.

      Ceremony isn't legally required at all, it is the marriage license, signed by both parties entering into the agreement, the witnesses, properly registered with the government that makes a marriage a "legal" marriage.

      I know a couple that were married in Jamaica, and when they filed for divorce it turned out they were never "legally" married at all, because they never properly filed their foreign marriage with the local clerk's office.

      Their marriage wasn't a marriage in the legal sense, and they had thought they had been legally married for over 20 years.

      A legal marriage is paperwork. That's all it is, no ceremony, or religion required.

      "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

      by MichiganGirl on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 12:02:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's basically what I said... (3+ / 0-)
        Ceremony isn't legally required at all
        If they want a religious ceremony after that's fine. But it's in no way mandatory.

        "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

        by markthshark on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 02:52:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was just pointing out that legally (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dave in Northridge

          ceremony has nothing to do with the government's definition of "marriage".

          If you pay the fees, fill out, and file the paperwork according to the legal requirements of whatever the locale you decide to be married in determines, and like my friends depending upon that locale, file some more paperwork where you live... You're married.

          My friends had their big ceremony, all that jazz... but they never paid the correct fees, and never filed the correct paperwork where they lived, and it turned out in the end that was all that mattered.... Paperwork, and filing fees.

          They didn't do the paperwork, didn't pay the fees, so they weren't married.

          "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

          by MichiganGirl on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 10:25:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  the brother of a friend (3+ / 0-)

        died suddenly, and when his widow went to take care of the formalities found out that the marriage papers had never been turned in - they'd trusted a third party to do it - so there was, well, a mess.

        (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

        by PJEvans on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:48:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  ALL marriages are technically civil unions... (8+ / 0-)

      ... because they are contractual obligations.  Signing a contract and taking a vow makes one responsible for fulfilling that contract.

      If marriages were not civil unions, no one would be required to pay a fee to the local county courthouse to get a marriage license.  [Taxes, remember?  Everything has a "fee" or a "tax" to give people permission to do something.]

      A couple can stand before every religious or civil person authorized to perform marriages and recite vows all day, but without signing that legal contract that forces them to live together and be responsible for each other, there is no marriage.

      If a marriage was not a legal contract, there would be no need for individuals to seek out the advice of a divorce lawyer when they want to dissolve that partnership contract.  They could just split their property and one or both move from the house/apartment they share together.  It's what single people who cohabit do: just take what they came with, divide the things they bought together, and go their separate ways.  (Really, much more convenient than a messy divorce to break a contract, assuming they can part amicably.)

      It all comes down to signing a contract and paying a licensing fee/tax as to whether or not there is a "marriage."  All the rest is just window dressing (often mighty expensive window dressing).

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 01:12:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  By that reasoning, what of common law marriage? (0+ / 0-)

        We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

        by bmcphail on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:22:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  An agreed-upon "legality" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dave in Northridge

          Not recognized in all 50 states.

          Just two people who represent themselves as married.

          In states that do not recognize common law marriages, they're two people cohabiting together under the same roof.

          No Marriage License, no fee/tax money has changed hands to obtain the Marriage License, so in states that do not recognize common law marriages, they're each single.

          I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

          by NonnyO on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:13:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  basically common law marriage (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dave in Northridge, NonnyO

          was "invented" for when the country was young and open for settlement. people went and lived their lives where there weren't legal authorities. There were no courthouses or license bureaus out on the plains or in the mountains or where ever.

          So common law provided that if you intended to be married and held yourselves out as married you were married as to legal duties and obligations.

          It was a way of protecting other people including offspring from damage for relying on their reasonable expectations.

          However their has never been a common law divorce however people acted as if there were. Especially in the South there was "poor man's divorce" where both decided to go their separate ways and frequently remarried often with a license. No one checks these things. I was friends with a Black woman who had done so many years before though no one knew I suppose. So when her second husband died she applied for spousal benefits and Social Security said no, you were never legally married to Mr. Gee in Alabama however you were married to Mr. X in Georgia who by happenstance had already died so you are entitled to his spousal benefits! So blessed be the nice government worker who found a way to get her the much needed support. She was disabled and all her prior work as a domestic never "counted" for social security purposes — in other words the employer didn't report or pay taxes on it.

          No state recognizes common law marriage now.

          So now, if you ever read this comment, you know more than you ever wanted to know about common law marriage.

          I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

          by samddobermann on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:08:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It gets complicated.... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dave in Northridge, MichiganGirl

            I do genealogy research, have done so for 50 years and counting, and since I got my first PC in '01, I work on it daily and/or weekly (and help others do their research)....

            One of my paternal gr-grandfathers: born in NY state, as a young man he and his brother worked on the Erie Canal (1865 NY state census); he was later married with two kids (boy and girl) and wanted to go east to homestead.  [Homestead Act was signed into law in 1862.]  His wife refused to go.

            Neighbor woman, married with two children (boy and girl).

            Gr-grandfather, his son, neighbor woman, her daughter all head west to northwestern MN and leave spouse and the other child behind.  Each of these adults is now in an adulterous relationship because in 50+ years of looking, no one has found a divorce filing in any state between NY and MN; legal first wife died in 1933 and her probate papers reveal she was still married to gr-gramps (altho in various census data she has represented herself as widowed through many decades).  The two adults who came west represent themselves as married.  They had three daughters together (the eldest eventually becomes my paternal grandmother).

            Gr-gram died of measles at age +/-40, is listed as having his surname in the death record, and is buried between two oak trees in the woods on the homestead.  (Eventually several infants who were her grandchildren that were stillborn or died within hours, days, or few months of birth come to be buried beside her.)

            Nineteen years after her death, in 1915 (still legally married to woman in NY), gr-gramps obtained a marriage license to "legally" marry a widow woman in MN  (I have a certified copy of the marriage license).  She died a very painful death of cancer five years later (allegedly her ghost haunted the house).

            Gr-gramps had thus far been married with no divorce, "widowed" twice, lived the rest of his life as a "widower," outlived all three women and died at age 91 in 1934.  He was both an adulterer and a bigamist.

            I have pictures of him at about age 80-82.  He was, incredibly enough, still a handsome man at that age (early-mid 1920s).

            Of my colonial New England ancestors, of those who were widowed or widows at an early age, they married again very soon after spouse died.  Most were farmers, and even of those who were not, the amount of work to be done around a home or on property pretty much required having a spouse and children (as unpaid laborers) who could grow up to help around the home or land, especially if they were farmers.  In those days love was not a requisite for marriage.  It was strictly a family business venture and often they married people on adjoining properties so they could increase the property for those who inherited.

            Well, in those days, love was thought to be a state of temporary insanity anyway.  If a couple was lucky, their personalities were compatible, and if they were really lucky, they might eventually come to love each other..., but love was not necessary to marry and/or have children.  Willing participants for a joint business venture and joining of property was all that was necessary to contract a marriage.

            Modern hyperbole and corporate and religious mass marketing have made entirely too, too much of marriage.  Essentially marriage is a business contract.  Remember, each also becomes responsible for the other's financial obligations as well as all the rest that is implied in a marriage contract.

            I know.  That takes all the romanticism out of marriage (without romanticism no one would spend a fortune on one day of dressing up, happy faces, great pictures, and a fairy tale ending to a relationship and the beginning of a busines partnership)..., but at the rock-bottom base level, marriage remains what it always was: a business contract.

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:19:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Geez Dave, (26+ / 0-)

    could you possibly give a gal any more to comment on? What to choose, how to be brief? IOW, what a big fat juicy diary you have written here. Kudos.

    Now, Dowd is Dowd---sometimes you want to kiss her for her way with words, and other times you want to strangle her because she led you to believe she was smarter that what she just wrote.  But never mind, because Maureen Dowd can't hold a candle to ass hats like Douthat.

    So I choose THAT---DouTHAT---to comment on.  Because his words are just about the most musty, dusty, bunch of crap an old white straight guy can spout out of his mouth before he farts it out the other end.

    This talk of "the decline of marriage," the "increase in co-habitation" (hello---the 70's are calling and they want their headlines back) the lack of interest in procreation and how it should be done, and BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH, is just about the crustiest, moldiest, most uninteresting and irrelevant to today argument that you could dream up.

    Up against him, Dowd can't help but win.

    "A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues." Theodore Roosevelt.

    by StellaRay on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:34:04 PM PDT

  •  Ross Douthat = William Kristol minus 25 years (9+ / 0-)

    Douthat may have attitudes and reasoning powers common to old white guys, but he's only 34.

    Nonetheless, like all the old white guys on his side, he fails to identify or describe exactly and precisely what the "social costs" of defining marriage are. Gay people have been getting married for a bit of time now, and amazingly enough my wife and I are still married too. So are all of our heterosexual married friends, oddly enough.

  •  What redefining? (8+ / 0-)

    In regard to Douthat's statement about the "costs of redefinging" marriage, I would contest that there are any costs. For one thing, no one is "redefining" marriage. It was never defined as anything other than a secular social contract that bestowed certain rights and responsibilities by the government upon the parties largely as a way to encourage people to get married. The idea that making that contract available to LGBT people is a redefinition is as specious as it is laughable. The people who are trying to redefine marriage are those who would seek to restrict it's availability.

    As for "costs", there is a social cost to restricting the marriage contract, but none whatsoever to making it available as an equal right to all.

  •  Circular reasoning 101 (6+ / 0-)

    Ross Douchebag: straight marriage declining, out of wedlock births increasing, and gays are fighting for their equality. Therefore it's teh gay's  fault.

    It's not like the comic book marriages of celebrities like Kim Kardashian or Britney Spears (especially her 72 hour first marriage) are making a mockery of the institution. It's not like woman are realizing that if they want a baby, they don't need a man around. Sure it can be helpful, but more women are figuring out they can get by on their own.

    I guess it really proves that the only remaining arguments against marriage equality are clown arguments.

  •  Thanks for reading Douthat (4+ / 0-)

    I guess someone should. Do you read David Brooks too? If so, double thanks.

    I stopped reading them quite a while ago. I found that they both tend to write columns that start out sounding reasonable, go through some vague hand-waving in the middle, and end up with a completely wrong, pro-conservative opinion. Those who sort of skim the middle part could well end up believing that it supports the conclusion, but time after time it was either completely irrelevant or led to a completely different conclusion. In other words, I think they are both scam artists, and I stopped reading them a number of years ago (actually, I stopped back when Douthat was still Bill Kristol).

  •  Let me get my Babelfish out (14+ / 0-)

       

    A more honest, less triumphalist case for gay marriage would be willing to concede that, yes, there might be some social costs to redefining marriage.  It would simply argue that those costs are too diffuse and hard to quantify to outweigh the immediate benefits of recognizing gay couples’ love and commitment.
    BS-to-English translation:  "I can't name any actual harm caused by letting same-sex couples make their own marital choices, so whatever straight people screw up, let's just pretend it's LGBT people's fault."

       

    Such honesty would make social liberals more magnanimous in what looks increasingly like victory, and less likely to hound and harass religious institutions that still want to elevate and defend the older marital ideal.
    BS-to-English translation:  "If you don't let me FORCE my religion on you, you're hounding and harassing me!"

    As one of the many people of faith whose religion supports marriage equality, I find that last bit especially offensive.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:12:03 AM PDT

  •  Is there anything we can't blame (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, Eric Nelson

    on gay people, Ross?

    Tornadoes, 9/11, earthquakes, and now the increase in non marital births among straight couples.

    I think if there is one thing that you are really stretching it to blame on gay people, it's the sex lives of straight people.

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