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    Breathe, breathe…it won’t be long now

    LaShawn Barber graciously gave me permission to reproduce this e-mail, in response to a question of mine about her recent posts on the FMA:


    I don’t think homosexual “civil rights” and black civil rights are similar at all, in practical terms or otherwise. People who practice homosexuality do so because they choose to. They have the freedom to do so or not. Even if people believe they are “born” a certain way, the same still holds: you can choose not to sleep with men. Americans who choose to do so are still Americans protected by our Constitution. No one can infringe on your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without the basic protections afforded you.



    White homosexuals walked through the front doors of hotels and stores, sat wherever they wanted on buses and trains, and were not relegated to second class citizenship. To equate sexual behavior and lifestyle choices with the subjugation, degradation, human bondage of Americans of African decent is a dishonest attempt to manufacture emotion over a perceived “right.” I can’t choose not to be black; however, that lack of choice isn’t what determines my basic rights; the Constitution does. And as I said (I repeat myself often), you already have rights guaranteed you under the Constitution. There is no “right” to be married.





    In the message that brought the above tirade on, I probably wasn’t clear enough on why I thought the “movements” are similar in “practical terms,” but what I meant was restricted to how our publicly recognized representatives relate to their constituencies. Which is to say, when Barney Frank shows up on television, a lot of us glance up from making dinner and mutter, “For Pete’s sake, girl, shut up!” And my understanding is that a lot of black people react similarly when they hear Maxine Waters’s talking head. For that matter–to make sure we hit as many lefty sacred cows as possible–my mother practically put her fist through the picture tube whenever Gloria Steinem showed up on the nightly news when I was little. The people who say they represent the interests of “minorities” of whatever stripe do not always know, or even care, what people at the grass-roots level think and experience. That was all I was saying.



    The issues surrounding gay rights and black rights are not the same, as Ms. Barber articulates. There are particular points at which they intersect, sure, but they cannot be equated overall. I hesitate to link Classical Values again, lest its proprieter think I’m stalking him, or something, but he mirrors my thoughts exactly with this:


    Putting aside the states’ rights and tariff issues for the sake of this discussion, the modern idea that human beings should not be property was on a collision course with the institution of slavery. Something had to give, but the moral high ground claimed by each side simply would not allow it. To me, it’s simple logic that the abolition of slavery destroyed what had previously been private property. Rather than wage war over the idea, wouldn’t it have been more sensible to pay slaveholders to free their slaves, declare slavery over and spare the nation the war?



    Slavery was abolished by constitutional amendment, but not until after the war.



    Inflammatory as it is, can the idea of same sex marriage be as noxious as slavery? Some people think so, but I doubt there are enough of them to start another Civil War. But the analogy is problematic, because marriage cannot normally be said to be as coercive as slavery. (Although I have expressed reservations that it might become involuntary.) Remember that in the case of slavery, it was abolition of slavery that was seen as invasive; slavery was the status quo. Here, the status quo is opposite sex marriage only, so the analogous question becomes whether or not allowing same sex marriage amounts to abolition of marriage. I don’t see how it does, because no one would lose the right to marry.



    Clearly, a significant number of people feel that their marriages will be weakened if same sex marriage is allowed. I have not yet seen a logically convincing argument as to how this might happen, and, despite my reservations about same sex marriage, I don’t understand the “dilution” argument, much less the “destruction” one. It strikes me as based largely on emotion.



    Yet the other side’s position is also quite emotional. A piece of paper and a definitional change (neither of which are needed for two people to live together, share or bequeath property, care for or visit each other in hospitals, or even in many cases to obtain insurance benefits) does not strike me as going to the heart of citizenship in the same way as voting, free speech, the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, to bear arms, to sit on juries, etc. Maybe I just don’t care about marriage as much as the people who yell and scream, but the institution strikes me as primarily a legal way to protect children in cases where parents break up. Perhaps it would be more fair to allow marriage only as a child protection institution; childless couples would be legally regarded only as domestic partners and subject to whatever partnership laws existed in a state.



    In any case, I am in favor of states’ rights, and for what it’s worth, I remain implacably opposed to the apparently doomed Federal Marriage Amendment.





    I’m not fond of the “states’ rights” phrasing, but otherwise, I concur. My parents have been together since before I was born, and they didn’t move out of the house my brother and I grew up in until I was out of college and he was 18–and even then, they moved to a place three miles down the road so they’d have more room to entertain. My childhood was the very picture of stability, and I don’t think I’m incapable of seeing the value of marriage.



    But I just don’t get worked up over the fact that it doesn’t include a relationship such as mine. I say this as someone who lives abroad on a work visa that has to be renewed every few years, conducts his relationship in a foreign language, and can’t bring his partner back to the States as a spouse. I am not unaware of the dangers inherent in my own circumstances, and I’d love if they could be legislated away. Sometimes I’m scared when I think about them. But at the same time, I know I’m one of the freest people in history: I chose to live here. And I decided three years ago, without coercion, that taking care of Atsushi was my job from then on. The rest flows from there.



    The most articulate and reasonable gay rights advocates have done a great job of teasing out the meanings and mechanics of marriage in contemporary America. Their conclusions about the weight it bears in signaling the assumption of adult responsibility are correct. But one cannot, from there, summarily argue that marriage rights must be bestowed on homosexuals; the possibility that the way marriage is currently delineated is, itself, flawed must be addressed first. There’s a difference between saying that the government should treat us with dignity, as responsible citizens in full possession of our faculties, and saying that the government can confer dignity on us. Until we get that straight, this whole conversation will be useless.

    22 Responses to “Breathe, breathe…it won’t be long now”

    1. Mrs. du Toit says:

      While I can’t hope to word this in a way that will prevent all possible offense, I’ll take my best shot:
      Society rewards individuals and couples with the label of legitimacy after their having demonstrated legitimacy–not the other way around.
      As you state, change must come from within, to the point where no one would question the issue, because there is no risk, no threat, and no dilution of the value of marriage. When we can agree on what those values are, share them, and practice them, then the point will become moot.
      Until that point, we’re asking the government (as you say) to confer legitimacy where none currently exists. And while some may clamor for a certificate they can mount on the wall, it won’t solve it. We’ll still all know it’s a sham. An unearned privilege is without meaning. The ceremonial act of conferring value on that which has no value has the effect of making the action dirty or no longer desirable.
      Since alternate solutions, such as Domestic Partnerships or Civil Unions have been scoffed at, it is clear that what people want is mandatory acceptance and legitimacy. It isn’t about fiar and equal treatment under the law. It is clearly about forcing people to accept that which they will not accept, except by force.
      Some folks, like yourself, understand that only what is earned is valuable. And once you’ve earned it, once you live it fully and truly, you don’t need the certificate to be legitimate. You already are. It is folks like yourself who lose the most, because without the activist actors having a willingness to compromise on Domestic Partnership agreements or Civil Unions, you a denied the only piece that is missing

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Thanks, Connie–as always.

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Okay, Mrs. du Toit and Kris, I was just getting ready to explain you to each other, but then, you can both defend yourselves if you decide to get into things. Since I know you both well and you don’t know each other, I’ll content myself with saying that your actual positions are probably not that far from each other.

    4. Kris says:

      Well, in response to Mrs. du Toit, I have to say, I find it ludicrous to couch this discussion in terms of ‘earning’ something. I’m no proponent of gay marriage, but neither do I feel comfortable with the implication that somehow straight people ‘earned’ the right to marry. We’re talking majority rules here, akin to the old chestnut that history is written by the winners. I’m of the belief that people tend to be people, gay or straight. I don’t have the exact facts (which are always debatable anyway) but personal experience tells me that straight, married folks cheat on each other, divorce, and act in other non-marriage/monogamous ways, with great enough frequency that if the ability to legally marry were a matter of earning the ability, it would have been taken away a long time ago.
      In addition to the emotional component, marriage is a political and religious institution. I think that to state that the reason it shouldn’t be given to gays is that they haven’t ‘earned’ it is really pretty wrong-headed.
      Again, I must say, I’m not really on the side of gay ‘marriage’ either. I just take issue with the moral superiority that appears to be on display. From my vantage point, the only advantage that I see that straight people have over gays is numbers.

    5. Auntie Mame says:

      Naw, no issue for me. It comes off how it comes off. That’s a personal perception thing, a feeling/opinion and it’s nearly impossible to alter that, once set. I think it would be impossible to explain what I meant with any other words to alter the feeling Kris got. The issue is full of landmines. I can avoid three but still hit another. Rehash just increases the odds of hitting another one.
      No skin off my nose.

    6. Michael Brazier says:

      I agree that marriage, in America today, signals “the assumption of adult responsibility”. It does so because marriage is an assumption of responsibilities — to the spouse, and to any children that might be born. The basic difficulty with “gay marriage” is that the second of those responsibilities is not, for homosexual relations, a matter of concern. If “gay marriages” are marriages then only the first responsibility is essential to marriage; that is, allowing “gay marriage” reduces the strength of the signal, for it reduces the responsibilities that are assumed in the public act of marriage.
      The opponents of SSM aren’t worried about their own marriages, as Classical Values supposes; they are opposed to a weakening of the institution of marriage, and the cultural assumptions regarding that institution.

    7. Sean Kinsell says:

      Everything you say is reasoned out well, if hypothetical, but I don’t think that was quite was I was focusing on when I was talking about adult responsibilities. The link I posted at the “assumption of adult responsibilities” text goes to an exchange Mrs. du Toit and I had on this topic that I think makes it clearer what I was talking about. Unfortunately, I didn’t enter it correctly, but I’ve fixed it. Here is is also:
      http://www.mrsdutoit.com/ee/index.php?/an_attempt/

    8. Dean's World says:

      Gay Issues

      Our friends LaShawn Barber and Sean Kinsell recently had an interesting exchange on the issue of gay rights and gay marriage. You can read an interesting…

    9. Dean's World says:

      Gay Issues

      Our friends LaShawn Barber and Sean Kinsell recently had an interesting exchange on the issue of gay rights and gay marriage. You can read an interesting…

    10. Dean's World says:

      Gay Issues

      Our friends LaShawn Barber and Sean Kinsell recently had an interesting exchange on the issue of gay rights and gay marriage. You can read an interesting…

    11. John Dibble says:

      Michael Brazier –
      Homosexuals can have the responsibility of caring for children – they do now in fact. Homosexuals can adopt children, and lesbians can get artificial insiminations if they want. And responsibility to children is not a matter of concern to straight couples who marry and do not have kids. You said it yourself, they have a responsibility to children that ‘might be born'(and I’d imagine you’d include children that are brought in through means of adoption), not that ‘WILL’ be born.

    12. Mrs. du Toit says:

      John, while we are all aware that circumstances will create the kind of situation you document, children are not the natural outcome of homosexual relationships. You have to screw with nature or take invasive action to make those situations occur.
      The idea that a lesbian couple will engage, through artificial insemination (or otherwise) to bring a child into the world, intentionally fatherless, intentionally cut off from their biological parent (in such a premeditated way) is so appalling, so Frankenstein horrible, it isn’t relevant to the discussion. It is relevant, only in the extreme, ironically, as an example of the con of your argument.
      Children have fundamental rights. One of the rights is to have daily access to their parents, unless one is later determined to be a nutcase. We know that divorce happens and it causes a strain on these relationships. But there is a huge difference between an outcome of good intentions and a plan, at the outset.
      We can agree that there are circumstances, accidental in nature (they didn’t PLAN things that way), where people find themselves in unusual (not ideal), situations.
      You don’t make public policy based on outliers. You make public policy on what is best for the public, the society at large, with hope that you can address the outliers in a kind and compassionate way.
      Gay or lesbian couples should not, through government means, be able to adopt children. Now before you go all wonky, it has nothing to do with the fact that they are homosexual. It is because they are not a man and woman. If, for example, a gay man and a lesbian were to decide to marry and remain together, so they could have a child, that would be fine, because they recognize that their personal preferences are less important to what a child needs. It’s a little strange/unusual, but their heart and intentions are in the right place. They’ve made a personal sacrifice and demonstrated their willingness to set aside their personal pleasures for the sake of the child

    13. Homosexual Marriage

      Like most political issues, I find myself agreeing with certain people on their conclusions while completely disagreeing with them on the arguments they used to get to those same conclusions.

    14. Sean Kinsell says:

      Perhaps surprisingly, I don’t entirely agree with Mrs. du Toit on this one; not surprisingly, I don’t disagree by much. As far as adoption goes, I agree that all other things being equal, heterosexual couples are better for rearing children than homosexual couples. It’s hard to imagine trying to disagree with that with a straight face. But I don’t think that necessarily means barring single people or gays and lesbians from the pool of candidates entirely.
      There are a few things that always make me queasy about this sort of discussion. On this topic at Dean’s World, I once brought up the nuclearization of the family and how many Asians I know think all our American talk about how a child needs both parents at home is missing the point. Their point is that if we’re really going to put the child’s interests first, parents should be living near grandparents and expecting them to take an active role in running the household. The response I got (back at Dean’s World, I mean) was that the nuclear family has increased productivity, GDP, and mean income, so therefore, the most successful societies in the world have the nuclear family in common.
      Which is nice, but it says nothing directly about the well-being of children. Indeed, in other places, one hears it argued that our wealth is, in fact, bought at the expense of the spiritual education of our children.
      Connie and others who know me will be aware of this, but for anyone else who reads this thread: trust that my intention is not to play gotcha! with traditionalists and say that, since the nuclear family already constitutes a trade-off, why not just go the whole way and let everyone join in the fun, so that there’s no moral problem with allowing a six-member sex commune to adopt a child. Nor am I anything but appalled at the idea of a single woman’s deciding to have a child because, “I just feel that, like, that’s really, uh, where I am in my life right now.” I just worry when people speak of the nuclear family as if it were the Way Life Is and go from there.

    15. Mrs. du Toit says:

      I’m not quite sure the solutions will unfold and be so clear if that is ever known with certainty, Shawn–it’s possible, but not likely.
      The reason is that we are coming to understand that a lot of what we thought of as environmental/learned behavior has a genetic or some sort of chemical root.
      We know, for example, that the likelihood of someone behaving as a criminal has a genetic component. (A research study of identical twins, separated a birth, some raised by criminal parents, others not, showed that if their parents were criminals they were more likely to be criminals themselves, even if they were raised in a law-abiding household.)
      If we were to conclude at some point that criminality was in fact innate, rather than learned, would we decide that criminals with such a trait should never be prosecuted for their crimes?
      The better way to state that, as it applies to homosexuality vs. heterosexuality, is if someone is responsible for their behavior REGARDLESS of their genetic or chemical code?
      At what point do we dismiss Free Will?
      I think the case you make is a compelling one, and I would put myself in the “All of the above camp.” I think the case has been made that for many people, homosexuality is not a choice, but the way they were born (either a genetic or other causal occurrence in the womb) AND there are people who, for whatever reason, adopt a homosexual lifestyle by choice. We cannot eliminate the choice factor for everyone, since we know there are homosexuals who do not know they are, who live temporarily or long term as a heterosexual and later “convert.” If someone can live one way and then live true to themselves, we have to accept that people can make the mistake in reverse (a heterosexual thinking they are homosexual and going the other way and a homosexual or heterosexual living the opposite life, out of ignorance).
      That doesn’t solve the problem of deciding what is best for a child or if society wants to reward, through benefits and entitlements, one type of couple over another.
      What we’re talking about with marriage, or what I only focus on only, is the benefits aspect of it. It is none of my business how people choose to live their lives, or with whom they partner or love. What I do have a say on is what it costs me personally. People who are legally married are rewarded by society in tangible financial benefits (and some penalties) because the natural outcome of a heterosexual marriage is children (with noted exceptions listed above). People pairing and staying together has tremendous benefits for society. That rewards of benefits and entitlements are there for expressly that purpose. The extension of those benefits and entitlements is something we all get to discuss and decide on, because it impacts our wallets. If traditional marriage had no benefits or tangible rewards, and no meaningful place/role in society, there would be no point or argument on this issue.
      But in the end, there will be just as many people who are anti-gay today, who would request that gay people just live otherwise or remain celibate, regardless if homosexuality was a choice or not. Certainly, we have choice over our sexual episodes, up to and including abstinence. Origin isn’t going to override that desire among some people (just for the record, I’m not one of them) to request that gays and lesbians “just stop it.” Rewarding, by opening up civil marriage to include non-child bearing couples, is an entirely different discussion.

    16. Michael Brazier says:

      S Kinsell: “On this topic at Dean’s World, I once brought up the nuclearization of the family and how many Asians I know think all our American talk about how a child needs both parents at home is missing the point. Their point is that if we’re really going to put the child’s interests first, parents should be living near grandparents and expecting them to take an active role in running the household.”
      I can’t quite see how resident grandparents serve the children’s interests. The argument of American family advocates is that children learn what being a good husband and father means from their fathers, and what being a good wife and mother means from their mothers, and so a child deprived of a father or a mother loses an important guide to adult conduct. What’s the role that a grandparent is meant to play, though? Is it truly universal, as motherhood and fatherhood are?
      S Liu: “if ever there comes a time when there is clear, concrete, scientific evidence that shows that homosexuality is something that homosexuals have no voluntary control over, then this debate is out the window and we would have to grant the right for homosexual marriage across the board.”
      Not at all. Even if the desire for homosexual relations is innate, the fact remains that homosexual relations can’t cause childbirth while heterosexual relations can. The point of marriage as an institution is providing for children who might be born as a result of sex (Classical Values was on the right track there.)
      If the question at hand were whether to permit homosexuality, or how to regulate it, then whether homosexuality is innate or chosen would be significant. But that isn’t in question.

    17. Shawn Liu says:

      I’d like to add 2 quick things to this discussion.
      1) In my experience with my homosexual friends and family, I’ve noticed that in the most successful and enduring couplings, despite the fact that it is a same sex relationship, that the two members of the relationship do infact take on male and female gender roles. Ex: You have 2 men who love each other. One takes on the male role and the other takes on the female roll. These are clearer in terms of say “primary breadwinner” and “homemaker” or “dominant” and “submissive”. The same I’ve noticed with lesbian relationships. Again, I’m refering to gender roles or “what it means to be a dad” and “what it means means to be a mom” and not about biology or who has what genitals.
      2) Lets not forget that the entire krux of this whole debate centers on one main question: Is homosexuality a choice or is it innate? This is where the debate breaks down as those who are in favor of the FMA assert that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice along the lines of what kind of pants shall I buy or what kind of music shall I listen to. Many homosexuals however contend that homosexuality is innate, born with, and that they have always felt this way. They assert that they can no more change their attraction to the opposite sex than they can change the color of their skin or the sound of their voice. To further compound the issue, some homosexuals have also reported that there was a choice involved (mostly in the cases of lesbians, not homosexual males), so there is another issue of accurate reporting involved.
      So basically we have non-homosexuals saying that homosexuality is a choice (which, strangely is like a Austrailian telling me how to be Jamaican), some homosexuals saying that its innate, and other homosexuals saying that it’s a choice. On top of that, there is no conclusive, scientific evidence to prove one way or the other (Don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise. There is strong evidence yes, but nothing conclusive, always consider the source). This is where the debate spirals out of control.
      Of course the implications on the origins of homosexuality are clear. If homosexuality is a choice, then it is something that be “fixed” at any time, and this debate continues on the path of “should we allow” instead of “must we allow?”.
      On the other hand, if ever there comes a time when there is clear, concrete, scientific evidence that shows that homosexuality is something that homosexuals have no voluntary control over, then this debate is out the window and we would have to grant the right for homosexual marriage across the board.
      Personally, from my experience and research, side with the “its not a choice” side, but time will tell.

    18. Sean Kinsell says:

      Michael Brazier:
      “I can’t quite see how resident grandparents serve the children’s interests. The argument of American family advocates is that children learn what being a good husband and father means from their fathers, and what being a good wife and mother means from their mothers, and so a child deprived of a father or a mother loses an important guide to adult responsibility. What’s the role that a grandparent is meant to play, though? Is it truly universal, as motherhood and fatherhood are?”
      I think the argument is that first-time parents, being by definition inexperienced, are too green to know what to do at every turn in a developing infant/toddler/child’s life to ensure that it gets, at every step, the multi-dimensional guidance it needs. By “needs,” people include knowing where one’s ancestors came from, and learning the wisdom one will need to carry him through not just the 20’s or 30’s of his parents but the 50’s or 60’s of his grandparents. Surely, it’s not difficult to see how parents would be ill-equipped to provide such an education. The self-contained world that one pair of parents can provide in a two-generation household is seen thus as confining and incomplete.
      My point is not that I think we should just capitulate to this argument. I only find it interesting that people who go all gooey over the way families were all stable and stuff before WWII (or the ’60’s, depending on the writer) don’t express much eagerness to go back to having their elder relatives butting in on their household arrangements…without explaining why they’re making that eye-catching exception. Grandparents have the experience of an additional two or so decades of life beyond the parents, after all. And they’ve known the child’s parents since birth and can give perspective on their bad moods, bouts of self-doubt, errors of judgment, and other anomalies of temperament. Particularly given all the stress that everyone claims to feel these days, such insight is not in any obvious way trivial to a child’s development. Again, my point is not that I think it takes a village to rear a child. I just find it fascinating that people who cry tradition at every turn can blithely assume the autonomy of a married couple from family and civic elders without recognizing the gap.

    19. Sean Kinsell says:

      Shawn Liu:
      “On the other hand, if ever there comes a time when there is clear, concrete, scientific evidence that shows that homosexuality is something that homosexuals have no voluntary control over, then this debate is out the window and we would have to grant the right for homosexual marriage across the board.”
      Thanks for your comments, Shawn–they’re very well articulated, and I agree…except for these last two clauses. Which is to say, even if homosexuality is something people have “no control over,” why does that mean that homosexual marriage rights, as least as I understand the push for them at present, have to be granted?
      I mean, when the possibility that gays won’t be allowed to determine who inherits our property, or decides whether we stay on life support, or visits us in the hospital…when those possibilities are raised, I yield to no one in my opposition. I don’t care how obnoxious I have to be.
      But even though I don’t think I had any voluntary control over my being homosexual, I also don’t see how equating homosexual unions with heterosexual unions necessarily follows from that. It’s just as easy to argue that the current position of marriage in American society and law springs from our entitlement-fixated age, and therefore that the solution is to pry everyone loose from the government tit.

    20. Shawn Liu says:

      You’ll have to forgive me for A) being slightly off topic with this response, and B) potentially not providing good enough references for some of my opinions. I seem to have gone of on an unintended tangent. Still…
      Sean:
      I totally see your point about arguing your position in regards to the entitlement-fixated age. I was looking at it more in an “open and shut” sort of way that, I’ll admit, isn’t always practical.
      What I was getting to was that if homosexuality is involuntary, then right of the bat, government cannot have laws that discriminate against homosexuals. If marriage is indeed a human right as noted by the Supreme Court in 1967 and 1978, and you follow the argument noted by the Chicago Report in regards to civil unions that “separate but equal” isn’t really end up at all, then I think you end up basically with a federal recognition of gay marriage.
      There’s some stretching that needs to be done, I know and I thank you for humoring my wet ears.
      Michael:
      While I agree that “the point of marriage as an institution is providing for children who might be born as a result of sex”, I disagree that this is the only reason. If this were just the case, then couples with fertility problems and the elderly wouldn’t be allowed to marry. As it is, the government still allows couples who cannot bear children (or don’t wish to) to marry in that there is still a chance that they can pop one out. And the government still allows the elderly to marry despite their no longer being physically able to marry to serve as a good example and reinforcement to others, and I think this last part is important.
      Marriage, I feel, has gone far beyond simply being an institution that produces children to a larger institution that cements the importance of raising children in a proper environment.
      Again, sorry for veering OT.

    21. Mrs. du Toit says:

      Your point about infertile couples not being allowed to marry is an interesting one and terribly relevant historically.
      During the Elizabethan era (before and after) you were not allowed to marry (you did not get consent from the Earl/Lord or Baron) unless you were pregnant. That’s what the May festivals were all about–a left over from Pagan times. You went into the woods to frolic with your lover and if you were later determined to be pregnant, your marriage was approved (that’s why there were so many June weddings).
      Remember, too, that infertility was one of the reasons for annulment from the Catholic Church. Not too long ago, when you had to sue for divorce (these laws were still in effect when I was a child) one of the reasonable grounds for a successful bid for divorce was infertility. Incompatibility or “irreconcilable differences” were more modern inventions, prior to “no fault” divorces, needing no cause today.
      We’ve come a long way from that (both good and bad), but that doesn’t mean the original intent and the basis for our current entitlements being set up the way they are, is for child bearing couples.
      We would view mandatory divorce for infertile couples as sort of ghastly or invasive, but it probably wouldn’t take much for me to come to that conclusion, given the other alternatives, to exclude childless couples from many of the tax and other financial incentives, currently awarded to all marrieds.
      I think we need to keep distinctly separate a legal, civil marriage (that comes with entitlements such as tax benefits, Social Security benefits, etc.) and the arrangement of commitment. One is a civil institution having only legal and financial implications, the other is purely relationship based. We’ve come to think of them as one and the same, people did not used to do that, and we should stop doing that.

    22. I like you both, Sean Kinsell and Mrs. du Toit.