Friday, October 21, 2005

Chapter 8: What's in a Name

Dr. Lakoff asserts Conservatives oppose Gay Marriage because “Same sex marriage does not fit the strict father model of the family; it goes squarely against it. A lesbian marriage has no father. A Gay marriage has fathers who are taken to be less than real men.” As such, Conservatives want to define Marriage as a union between a man and a woman. But, Lakoff says, “as anthropological studies of American Marriage have shown, they [conservatives] got the definition wrong. Marriage, as an ideal, is defined as “the realization of love though a lifelong public commitment” "With love and commitment, you have the very definition of the marital ideal—of what Marriage is fundamentally about” “Marriage is about love and commitment, and denying lovers the right to marry is a violation of human dignity”

Dr. Lakoff “forgets” to document the study he was citing so no comment on it can be provided. However, American Marriage is based on the Traditions of old Europe, and Marriage as an institution exists in almost every culture in some form, including tribal cultures. Many cultures have arranged marriages, and Love is not expected to be part of it, much less a central theme. Modern Dictionaries of the English language define Marriage as:

mar·riage n. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife. ( The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

mar·riage n. 1 : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a legal, consensual, and contractual relationship recognized and sanctioned by and dissolvable only by law (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc)

You will notice that neither dictionary uses the Word “Love”. Dr. Lakoff, apparently believes he can create new definitions to words whenever he wants. Dr. Lakoff here tries to establish a false frame in order to hide the fact that the definition of marriage is being changed. As a linguist, Dr. Lakoff understands the power of words, and knows that changing a definition is tantamount to lying.

Lakoff says, “Marriage is central to our culture. Marriage legally confers many hundreds of benefits, but that is only its material aspect.”

Marriage consists almost entirely of legal obligations; Shared income, shared property, shared responsibility, and accountability to another person. One loses autonomy and freedom when they Marry, which most would consider far more valuable than any benefits they might obtain. Even then, very few of the legal “benefits” are not currently available to same sex couples via normal legal channels, with the largest missing one being a “one stop shop” where these benefits can be conferred together and at once. Legal documents can handle inheritance, legal proxy and other such arrangements. Most hospitals have adjusted their rules to allow same-sex partners to visit, and many companies offer health benefits to same sex partners (and many deny them to the spouses of Heterosexual Married couples—it is an employer choice.) The Fact the Progressives believe the central point and utility of Marriage are the benefits that they obtain shows that Progressives have a Fundamental lack of understanding about the institution of Marriage. This is also why they frequently call it useless, outdated or an expression of Patriarchal society while demanding it for their homosexual brothers and sisters.

Dr. Lakoff says Marriage “is the beginning of family life, commonly with the expectation of children and grandchildren, family gatherings, in-laws, little league games, graduations and all of the rest”

“The ideal marriage is happy, lasting, prosperous, and with children, a nice home, and friendships with other married couples. The typical marriage has its ups and downs, its joys and difficulties, typical problems with children and in-laws. “

As Dr. Lakoff implies above, Love is not the reason the institution exists; People can love and have sex with whomever they choose and for as long as they choose outside of Marriage. Before the years of effective Birth control ( that only recently began in the latter part of the 20th century), a societal ethic of Marriage before sex was required, as babies would inevitably follow the repeated act of sex in most cases. Marriage is about the “expectation” of children.

Society promotes marriage as a socio-economic cradle that allows would-be parents to prepare a home using the benefits of the division of labor, a practice that is secured by guaranteeing assets to one party that may give up a job and a steady income to participate. The Rules surrounding traditional marriage, that were once codified in law, (they were replaced with “no fault divorce”) are designed to protect the union for the benefit of the children, and the happiness of the parents was only a secondary concern. Children depend on a stable environment where they feel secure, and marriage is designed to provide that. By this token, what reasonable expectation do Same-Sex marriage couples have for a child? How many desire a child? Should this status be granted to a small segment of the population who are unlikely to contribute to the institutions purpose? If they do contribute and have children, by what methods should they be allowed to obtain them? Should two-mother, one father groupings be condoned? What effects do such configurations have upon the raising of children? What effects does having two fathers or two mothers have upon the children? These are valid questions, none of which are addressed by Dr. Lakoff.

The studies that have been done have very small sample sizes, address one socio-economic background, or deal with children that had a traditional family early in their lives. Furthermore, the social conditions in the Netherlands and other places where Gay Marriage has been adopted, Marriage seems to suffer, and many more children are born out of wedlock, and hence loose the stable environment and constant relationship needed for healthy growth. Before we change an institution that has supported every civilization on earth for millennia, it would probably be wise to understand the effects of such a change on the institution itself and its intended product: children capable of taking up the mantle and perpetuating the society.

“Gay for the right connotes a wild, deviant, sexually irresponsible life-style”

There are groups of Gay Men who  have demonstrated tendencies to  willingly and wantonly spread AIDS and other diseases, and simply advocate unsafe sex. Should Society be advocating putting children into a family environment where at least one parent is likely to die before the child reaches maturity? Lakoff fails to address the possibility that Gay Men will continue to behave as they behave now, even when in a Marriage, and to investigate what effect that could have on the ethics and rules surrounding marriage throughout the society. Feminism has already led to “No-Fault” divorce laws which put the well-being of Parents over the well-being of their children (Statistics show that Children of Divorce are more likely to have problems than children who remain in a “conflicted” marriage (unless the conflict involves physical violence)) Does Society really wish to make it even more difficult to discipline and maintain the ethic of fidelity? Does society wish to deliberately create orphans? Also of note is that Lesbian behavior is quite different. If the debate were over Lesbian marriage, the idea would likely find more acceptance.

Lakoff says “Polls show most Americans overwhelmingly against anti-gay discrimination, but equally against “gay marriage.” One reason, I believe, is that marriage evokes the idea of sex, and most Americans do not favor gay sex.” “Marriage confers a social status—a married couple with new social roles. And for a great many people, marriage legitimizes sex”

Progressives often cannot tell the difference between tolerance and acceptance. Most Americans believe they should tolerate behavior that they believe imposes low or no costs on them or the society. The Strict-Father Christian Religion warns its adherents not to judge others and to leave the judging to God. Therefore consensual acts that occur out of sight in someone’s bedroom, tend to be tolerated in modern times. The word Marriage connotes a societal (and non-legal) obligation to support and accept the union. In effect, granting Homosexual Unions under the label “Marriage” forces people to accept, and not just tolerate the behavior; it legitimizes homosexual sex. It is a violation of an individual’s right of conscience to force others to publicly support a union they find sinful.

“When conservatives speak of the “defense of Marriage,” liberals are baffled. After all, no individual’s marriage is being threatened. It’s just that more marriages are being allowed.”

Progressives are proposing that the very definition of Marriage be changed. Changing the Use of the word “Marriage” to put both groups under the same label is repugnant to many, especially given the vastly different behavior of those groups. This isn’t about “political views,” it is about the general behavior of the group being associated. Is someone who parades down Main Street in the buff shouting obscenities and thumbing his nose at the rules of society likely to obey the tenants of marriage? Stereotyping is based on group generalizations. It isn’t uncommon for the members of a group not causing detrimental effects on others to separate themselves from those causing the disruptions. Even the homosexuals do it as shown by this note from the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

gay n.
1. A person whose sexual orientation is to persons of the same sex
2. A man whose sexual orientation is to men: an alliance of gays and lesbians.

Usage Note: The word gay is now standard in its use to refer to homosexuals, in large part because it is the term that most gay people prefer in referring to themselves. Gay is distinguished from homosexual primarily by the emphasis it places on the cultural and social aspects of homosexuality as opposed to sexual practice. Many writers reserve gay for males, but the word is also used to refer to both sexes; when the intended meaning is not clear in the context, the phrase gay and lesbian may be used. Like the other names of social groups derived from adjectives (for example, Black), gay may be regarded as offensive when used as a noun to refer to particular individuals, as in There were two gays on the panel; here phrasing such as gay members should be used instead. But there is no objection to the use of the noun in the plural to refer collectively either to gay men or to gay men and lesbians, so long as it is clear whether men alone or both men and women are being discussed.

Lesbians use a separate word to describe themselves because they don’t want to be called gay either. They do not want to be associated with behavior (promiscuity, irresponsible sex) exhibited by others because it will taint the publics perception of their group.  

“Most Gay activists want more than Civil Unions. They want full-blown marriage, with all of its cultural meanings—a public commitment based on love, all of the metaphors, all of the rituals, joys heartaches, family experiences—and a sense of normality, on par with all other people.”

A minority population that engages in behaviors different from the majority is by definition abnormal. It does not follow that they should be granted a sense of normality anymore than the behavior of groups like NAMBLA should be condoned as normal. Dr. Lakoff admits that the Gay activists are not interested in tolerance, but acceptance with all of the metaphors, rituals and ethics that apply to Heterosexual Marriage. Progressives who support Gay Marriage believe that individuals do not have the right of conscience protected by the first amendment, and should be forced to publicly accept and approve of acts they find immoral.

Lakoff asserts “The ability of ministers, priests, and rabbis to perform marriage ceremonies is granted by governments, not by religions”

The rules of who may perform and witness CIVIL marriages varies by State, but ANY community may choose to recognize or not recognize a marriage INDEPENDANT of the State. For instance, the Catholic Church officially refuses to sanction any marriage not performed within a Catholic Church. This is because the word Marriage has both a Legal and a Societal (religious) connotation. The force of state allows the enforcement of the contract via Civil Marriage, but the force of communal morality and tradition supports and upholds it. Marriage ceremonies often include a verbal commitment of those present to help the couple maintain and keep the marriage contract. Members of the community are obligated by morality and tradition to council against extra-martial affairs, sex before marriage, and divorce. Such communities are often based on a religion, and Christian religions in general have the same ethics toward the institution and therefore are able to bolster each other. They form a layer of unofficial enforcement of the contract. It is this second area of moral enforcement that Gay Activists are trying to gain access to, otherwise they would be content with Civil Unions.

“Progressives need to reclaim the moral high ground—of the grand American tradition of freedom, fairness, human dignity, and full equality under the law”Lakoff says “The issue is one of personal freedom: The state should not dictate who should marry whom. It is also a matter of fairness and human dignity. Equality under the law includes social and cultural as well as material benefits”

Hence we find that Progressives believe the Government is entitled to regulate social and cultural benefits. To Progressives “full equality under the law” means using the force of law to compel society to produce the type of equality they see as desirable, even if achievement of that equality requires overriding the values or desires of the majority. This is why they support affirmative action and laws that treat people differently based on the color of their skin. Gay Marriage is an attempt to use the law to force people to treat Homosexuals Differently than Heterosexuals, by enabling them to marry the same sex. In short, progressives are claiming a right of government to establish a near totalitarian regime in which laws specify certain behaviors towards homosexuals and their unions, and carry a penalty for violation of those laws. Many Universities (the most Progressive Communities in America) have already put in place totalitarian speech codes that ban not only disparagement of Homosexuals, but the expression of respectful but unfavorable opinions of their behavior. These codes are then enforced only against certain segments of the University population in order to achieve “equality”. Progressives believe the “Moral High Ground” entitles them to mandate the behavior and opinions of others, in complete contradiction of the principles of majority rule, self-government, and the right of Conscience.

Contrastingly, Conservatives believe that “full equality under the law” means that the laws are applied in the same manner, regardless of who they are applied to. Marriage is an institution based on gender, not on sexual orientation. A Homosexual person is NOT denied the right to marry a person of the opposite sex because of their sexual orientation. Heterosexual people are not allowed to marry the same gender. The rules are the same and apply the same for everyone. It is not the same case as when Black Men were unable to Marry white women. If one chooses to argue against the matter based on Gender Discrimination, the American people have already rejected the Equal Rights Amendment that attempted to proclaim Men and Women were equal (the same)

In his section on how to respond to Conservatives, Lakoff reprints a letter which says “Every time someone started screaming about Gay marriage I’d ask if they want to Federal Government to tell them who they could marry. I’d go on to explain when challenged that once government has crossed the huge barrier into telling one group of people who they could not marry, it is only a small step to telling other groups, and a smaller yet step to telling people who they had to marry.”

The Government is not determining who should marry whom, and suggesting that there is a slippery slope towards a government mandated Eugenics (which the government already does by forbidding marriages to first cousins etc) of every union is absurd. It is simply yet another attempt by Lakoff to obscure the Progressive position. The government already HAS the power to determine who is involved in a Marriage and the sort of government control prognosticated above has not occurred. The argument over Gay Marriage is about restricting power the government already has, and restricting which decisions the majority can make, not giving the government new powers that leap some imaginary barrier. This belies the real slippery slope: That once you forbid the government from setting standards for which groups can be involved in a Marriage, and do so against the will of the majority, there is nothing to prevent the legal challenge of Polygamists, proponents of Bestiality, Pedophiles or any other small minority group who suddenly has a desire for “acceptance” and no principle by which they may be denied.

The Founding Fathers amended the Constitution to include a Bill of Rights, designed to protect minorities from the will of the majority. That agreement can ONLY be changed by an amendment approved by the Majority. The Founding Fathers did this because a minority is just as apt to produce a tyranny over the majority as vice-versa. There is not a Homosexual Amendment granting protection to Homosexuals or to those who commit Homosexual acts. Homosexuals differ from others only in their behavior, not in the color of their skin or ethnicity. The behavior may or may not be voluntary. Alcoholism isn’t voluntary either, but drunk drivers who are alcoholics are still held responsible for their actions. The High Recidivism rates of Pedophiles (and in particular homosexual pedophiles) suggest their behavior isn’t voluntary either. Should Pedophilia be legal because of that? Should we take another step and approve of it as natural and normal? American Society is blessed with an ability to decide via a Democratic process how we will react to different acts, and different lifestyles. Progressives desire to circumvent that process, and remove the right of conscience, and the right to determine, make and live by democratically enacted laws.  

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