Different Is Not Equivalent

State Senator Donna Nesselbush (D, Pawtucket) gets to the heart of the civil unions/same-sex marriage matter:

Nesselbush said she initially planned to support [civil union legislation] “as a step forward,” but changed her mind because of language — added on the House floor — that exempts religious groups from recognizing a civil union or treating such couples the same as they would treat married couples.
In her comments on the Senate floor, Nesselbush said those who support the bill are “essentially institutionalizing inequality.”
“So while extending valuable rights, if passed, this legislation would essentially establish a separate status, and separate is never equal,” she said.

The bottom line is that separate and unequal are entirely appropriate when two groups are not similarly situated. Unless one takes the extreme radical view that men and women are not differentiable — that they are entirely the same — then there will remain the possibility that it’s reasonable to treat the relationships that they have with each other as unique.
What activists like Nesselbush wish to do is to disallow society from observing the uniqueness of intimate relationships between members of our species’ two genders, which by their nature have the capacity to generate new human beings. Judgment might be different were our government not so pervasive in its regulation of everyday life — were it possible for social institutions to make the substantive statement of behaving as if their beliefs are actually true.
The religious exemption in the civil union bill at least preserves that ability in some minimal (albeit insufficient) way. Every individual and organization ought to be empowered to treat marriage between a man and a woman as uniquely worthy of recognition, and our government ought to do the same.

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Dan
Dan
10 years ago

On the issue of gender differences, I got into a very heated argument with a feminist once (heated from her side, at least) because I said that men have coarser skin and hair than women do. She didn’t want to accept that these biological differences (other than the more obvious ones) existed because then she thought it would open the door for the argument that there could be physical differences in the brain that caused differences in types of intelligence, emotions, and behavior – which *any* reputable psychologist will tell you is the case. The bottom line is that being equal in value doesn’t mean being exactly the same.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

Still left unsaid is how many hundreds of millions of dollars over the years an already broken state and its municipalities are on the hook for by giving these freaks pension and health care benefits.
We are going the way of Greece in more ways than one!

michael
michael
10 years ago

Without paying much attention to the issue, I figured a civil union would cover people of same and opposite sexes who choose to be civilly unified. What does religion have to do with any of this, anyway?
Maybe I’m mistaken, but religious groups have nothing to do with a person’s rights, except within the confines of that religion, which has nothing to do with the state.
Why anybody would seek to be recognized by a religion that doesn’t want them is beyond me.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

I think it’s interesting that both blog owners strongly oppose this new law, but for opposite reasons. The other blog wanted this bill vetoed because it didn’t go far enough. I think Justin feels this law goes too far and never should have seen the light of day.
It was interesting during debate when the “separate but equal” came up that Rep Karen MacBeth offered to make the separates equal. Remove all reference to “marriage” and make everyone in the state recognized as a “civil union”. If someone wants a “marriage”, go get that from a religious institution. Otherwise, it’s really just a legal, contractual relationship between two people. That’s what they have now, with the one exception being that religious-affiliated organizations are not required to recognize the union.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

The bottom line is that separate and unequal are entirely appropriate when two groups are not similarly situated. Unless one takes the extreme radical view that men and women are not differentiable — that they are entirely the same — then there will remain the possibility that it’s reasonable to treat the relationships that they have with each other as unique.

So your contention, Justin, is that is acceptable to discriminate against those who are not like you. I know quite a few women who would disagree, but it’s refreshing to see you out of the closest so to speak in your defense of bigotry.

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

I’ll one-up you:
“Every individual and organization ought to be empowered to define marriage uniquely, and our government shouldn’t bother to.”
I really don’t get how government should be involved with marriage in any way besides enforcing a business contract like any other. Three people want to get ‘civil-unioned’? Let ’em; who cares?

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

What activists like Nesselbush wish to do is to disallow society from observing the uniqueness of intimate relationships between members of our species’ two genders, which by their nature have the capacity to generate new human beings.

So, Justin, you also approve of a business denying health benefits to an elderly couple who married clearly after child-bearing years because that relationship does not have the capacity to generate new human beings. Please, do tell us more about your plan to disenfranchise the elderly from the civil and legal protections reserved for breeders.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
10 years ago

Russ
It’s not discrimination, at least invidious discrimination, if the people aren’t similarly situated. I’m not disabled, so I can’t get benefits. You haven’t studied medicine, so you can’t practice medicine. Marriage is a particular relationship. The fact that some residents have no interest in such relationships does not mean that they have a civil right to the closest approximation that they desire.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“It’s not discrimination, at least invidious discrimination, if the people aren’t similarly situated.”
So let’s be clear, you have no problem with a business discriminating against women because clearly they are not the same as men and so can and maybe even should be treated as unequal and you would support a business who decided to deny benefits to an elderly married couple because they are not able to have children.
Me, I say these are all people and deserve the same protections and benefits that I receive. Let’s at least be honest about what you’re defending.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“Marriage is a particular relationship.”
Which you seek to define in a legal sense as being only between those who have “the capacity to generate new human beings” based on your personal religious sensibilities. Yes?

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
10 years ago

Russ,
Your thought has the subtly of those pillars they use to bang posts into the riverbed.
Step 1: I believe our civilization does well to foster social expectations to encourage the birth of children into stable relationships consisting of his or her biological parents, including recognition from the government.
Step 2: Government should not be empowered to pick people’s mates.
Step 3: Marriage as an institution is a suitably broad regulation, defining applicable relationships as opposite-sex, not-closely-related pairs involving relationships that are naturally procreative as a category (if not in specific instances), and that’s it.
Step 3: It is possible for elderly people to fulfill those obligations, and their marriages do not change the procreative dynamic of marriage inasmuch as they likely have children or, at any rate, are indistinguishable from those that do.
The thing you’re missing, Russ, is that “similarly situated” is a matter of judgment, and I’m saying that it’s reasonable to suggest that a category of relationship that, if not hindered by illness or other difficulties, is procreative is different than one that is not.

msteven
msteven
10 years ago

Russ, the discrimination card does not work here. By current definition, marriage is between two people of the opposite sex.
And before you play the “slavery” card as that is also a defined in the dictionary. The difference is that a change to the definition of slavery is not being proposed. “Slavery” , like “murder” was deemed wrong and unconstitutional. If you want to claim that the definition of marriage is inherently discriminatory, then argue that point. I’ll acknowledge there is some merit to it.
But if you play the discrimination card, then that also applies to any legal arrangement between anybody or thing. If I want to marry my pet, mother, father, everyone on my street – then that choice should be granted legal status or else it is “discrimination”.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“…the discrimination card does not work here. By current definition, marriage is between two people of the opposite sex.”
So it was also not discrimination when marriage was by definition between a man and a woman of the same race?
What Justin attempts to do above is slip in his religious conception of marriage as being only for procreation (“by their nature have the capacity to generate new human beings”). He’s yet to answer me if elderly couples can be disenfranchised from their legal status as married couples, which at least would be a consistent stance to take. I suspect he won’t which shows the lengths some will go to to avoid thinking of themselves as bigoted.
As for the rest, yes, I discriminate against animals by denying them all of the rights of humans. But let me get this straight, your point is I should view gay people as subhuman?

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

Ah, Russ is engaging in his typical word-twisting sophism. Notice how he re-states what Justin wrote inaccurately, then argues against what he wrote.
Why is this a problem in the first place? Because the Left posits the State as the head of society, with the powers to redefine the language and to force people to accept whatever social institutions the government imposes on them. In a free society as originally established in this country, the government does not have that power.
(Note that this does not apply to slavery as addressed in the Constitution and the Founders’ other writings. There was no redefinition of “slavery”, only a delay in the inevitable reconciliation of the institution with the Declaration of Independence – through the extinction of the institution. Lincoln’s famous July 9 response to Sen. Douglas is the best explanation.)
The Left and the gay lobby try to redefine a societal institution as a “civil right”; i.e., as a matter of constitutional law. But the institution of marriage was not envisioned as being under the government’s control – it is part of our society and our culture, which are bigger than government. But the government, as a creation of our society, is not superior to it.
No matter what “civil union” or “gay marriage” laws may be passed by politicians, people will still decide for themselves whether homosexuality is “normal” and plays an equivalent role in society as traditional marriage. So far, every statewide referendum on the topic indicates that most people do not believe that.
And until government creates the Thought Police, people will be free to think that.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“Notice how he re-states what Justin wrote inaccurately, then argues against what he wrote.”
No idea, what you’re talking about there. I asked Justin to clarify and he responded with a personal attack (I can only wonder how tough it is to be as smart as Justin in these moments) and a rambling stream of points that reflect the contortions necessary to avoid the conclusion that this is really about discrimination.
Bob at least is honest about his view that the majority should be allowed to discriminate against minorities (“…people will still decide for themselves whether homosexuality is ‘normal’ and plays an equivalent role in society as traditional marriage”).

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

Russ has an unusual, perhaps unique, definition of the word “discrimination”. He is trying to make an equivalency between the fact that people notice differences in behavior among other people, and make judgments about that behavior, and issues of civil rights.
People can (and have the right to) “discriminate” with respect to motorcycle gangs, kids blasting rap out their car windows, and people engaging in lewd public acts. (The propensity for gay activists to do the latter in the “pride” parades does not help their case.) That is an entirely different matter from discrimination based on race, but the Left has to deny this truth in order to argue its case.
And now, having kicked sand in Justin’s face, he’s playing the “victim”.

msteven
msteven
10 years ago

Russ,
Another red herring, marriage was never ever defined as being in the same race. That was a ban based on discrimination against inter-racial marriage. THAT was discriminatory, like the ban against gays serving in the military.
I happen to agree with yout that the procreation argument is inconsistent but you are no more consistent. How is denying relatives or multiple marriages not discriminatory? Allowing those doesn’t even change the definition of marriage.

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

“marriage was never defined as being in the same race”
Well it’s NOT defined as between a man and a woman, either:
http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE15/15-1/INDEX.HTM
There’s nothing in there that that says two men shouldn’t be able to get a marriage license together, which is exactly how judges in several other states interpreted their laws, sparking this whole thing. Some states DO define it. Ours hasn’t.
And look, they make exceptions to some pretty important rules that prevent inbreeding for the sake of a religion that’s less than 2% of the population (§15-1-4). You can’t make LESS of a stretch to accommodate the 5-10% of the population that’s not straight?
See, this is why regulation of marriage is a mess, and should fall on unencumbered consciences instead of majority rule.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

I get the idea that Russ thinks national borders are discriminatory,so why bother arguing with him?
This same sex marriage dispute is like herpes-it never goes away.
I hope civil union law puts it on the back burner-we’ve wasted enough time and energy on it.

ttc3
ttc3
10 years ago

What gets me about the debate about the civil union bill is the objection to the exemption for religious institutions and their employees. IMHO, the same people who are objecting to this exemption are the same ones who scream “separation of church” at the drop of a hat whenever convenient to their “beliefs”. It has the appearance of hypocrisy. I understand religious based hospitals is a touchy subject, but the objection seems to go beyond that.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
10 years ago

Apparently, Russian is the only one allowed to pepper his comments with insulting phrases. Of course, he then goes on to illustrate that a larger, more blunt analogy would have been justified.
No contortions are necessary. Simply defining marriage as a male-female relationship is sufficient regulation, because most such relationships will create children, and those that do not also do not contradict the principle. It’s one of those blinding obvious things that radicals expend a great deal of tints not to see. Marriage is male-female because men and women are the procreation basis for a biological family.
A similar elision is observable in Mangeek’s point: the definition does not appear in the law because it didn’t have to. Similarly, laws do not contain, within themselves definitions of ‘and,’ ‘notwithstanding,’ and ‘statute.’ If judges decide that such words mean something else, all sorts of strange arguments will become possible.
As for race, the question was not whether blacks could enter into marriages; it was whether they ought to be restricted from marrying whites. My explanation of marriage as best left with the light regulation of merely being male-female is actually in perfect harmony with racial civil rights.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

I guess I don’t understand the law mangeek linked to fully:
“Men forbidden to marry kindred. – No man shall marry his mother, grandmother, daughter, son’s daughter, daughter’s daughter, stepmother, grandfather’s wife, son’s wife, son’s son’s wife, daughter’s son’s wife, wife’s mother, wife’s grandmother, wife’s daughter, wife’s son’s daughter, wife’s daughter’s daughter, sister, brother’s daughter, sister’s daughter, father’s sister, or mother’s sister. ”
Let’s look at what was spelled out. First, let’s leave out all “first blood” and “second blood” relatives. But what about the others?
What’s the difference between a grandmother and “grandfather’s wife”? That’s one of two things. Either they mean your grandfather’s ex-second wife, which I don’t know why you can’t marry into that situation, or they mean your grandfather’s current second wife, which would be bigamy on her part, and that’s illegal anyway. There is also bigamy with the “son’s son’s wife, daughter’s son’s wife, wife’s mother, wife’s daughter’s daughter” and so on. Many of these are either covered under bigamy laws, or they’re banning the marriage between two unrelated people who may have been previously related by marriage.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“How is denying relatives or multiple marriages not discriminatory?”
That’s actually an interesting question. I think we could argue that the ban on polygamy is discriminatory against certain faiths, but arguing that bans on marrying close relatives is discrimination is a bit of a stretch and only discrimination is we ignore that the term normally applies to prejudicial treatment of a specific categories of people (esp. race, age, sex, or sexual orientation).

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“marriage was never defined as being in the same race”
Um, yes it was. We’re talking about “marriage” as defined by the state, so the majority of states with laws banning interracial marriage back in the ’40s certainly defined marriage as between two members of the same race. No question.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

Simply defining marriage as a male-female relationship is sufficient regulation, because most such relationships will create children, and those that do not also do not contradict the principle.”

So there you have it. And I’m sure that’s news to the many childless couples in sham marriages. “Rhody’s Littlest Taliban” thinks your “marriage” is only about procreation. All other legal considerations (and there are many) are irrelevant. Who is it again that’s supposedly redefining marriage?

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

In the eye of the common law, marriage appears in no other light than that of a civil contract: and to this contract the agreement of the parties, the essence of every rational contract, is indispensably required…
It will be proper, in the next place, to consider the consequences of marriage.
The most important consequence of marriage is, that the husband and the wife become, in law, only one person: the legal existence of the wife is consolidated into that of the husband. Upon this principle of union, almost all the other legal consequences of marriage depend.
— James Wilson, 1792

Or as the Local Taliban would have it, marriage is solely about procreation (oh, and please ignore that many gay couples have children… it’s all about the sex act).

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

Russ, merely repeating your refuted arguments is not going to make them any more convincing.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

And merely saying things are refuted doesn’t mean you’ve convinced anyone.
Clearly marriage was and is primarily a form of contract and excluding a class of people from those legal protections based on their sexual orientation is discriminatory, unless we redefine marriage to mean an agreement entered solely for the purpose of procreation, a meaning entirely within the religious context of the institution.
Surprised you didn’t accuse me of quoting Wilson out of context (must be slipping in your witty repartee).

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
10 years ago

Russ,
Now you’re doubling down on both the Bling-edged logic and the ad hominem. I did not say that marriage is ONLY for procreation. I said that the potential of procreation is central to the notion of marriage.
I’ve said before that there is a legitimate argument for other relationship categories that answer some of the other purposes and uses of marriage, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t be able to differentiate make-female relationships that by their nature tend toward children.

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

“the potential of procreation is central to the notion of marriage”
In that case, and in accordance with the holy books, it would be wise to allow men to take several wives.
You’ll notice that I’m not averse to that, nor a wife having several husbands, or intra-familial ‘marriages’, or whatever.
The purpose of ‘marriage’ has nothing to do with being able to ‘produce’ a child, and a whole lot to do with providing a fiscally stable household that can actually support them. Two or more people who are legally bound together in a way that encourages them to pool resources makes for a healthier society, especially for children (be they natural, adopted, etc.). Letting more people ‘bind together’ into more stable units seems like a win-win from an ethical and public-policy standpoint. Conversely, making marriages -harder to dissolve- also seems wise.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

Hey, you’re welcome to lay off the ad hominem any time. By my reckoning I resisted responding to more than one taunt on your part, along with the usual chorus of ad hominem attacks you folks seem to enjoy so much. Mine at least had a point, that your view of marriage is based on the religious definition not the legal one.
You seem to ignore my quote above which contradicts your point about what I agree is a traditional notion of the religious institution.
I don’t see any reason for your “seperate but equal” proposal. Marriage is the proper term. If only folks would stop confusing their religious beliefs with my or others’ relationships.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

Hear, hear, mangeek.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

“So your contention, Justin, is that is acceptable to discriminate against those who are not like you. I know quite a few women who would disagree, but it’s refreshing to see you out of the closest [sic] so to speak in your defense of bigotry.”
This is Russ’s first post in the thread, combining the gay imagery of “out of the closet” with accusing Justin of bigotry.
I guess he forgot about it when pontificating about “ad hominem”.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

btw, I’m still not clear on why you think it’s not discrimination if there is a “difference.”
That seems to me to have been the basis for all discrimination and the justification for it throughout the ages. They are not like us and therefore do not have the same rights that we reserve for ourselves.
I think ultimately the argument falls flat on its merits though, once you discard the religious procreation canard. Loving couples are not so different, no matter their age, race, religion, or sexual orientation.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

Russ continues to argue against his own fantasies rather than what others have written. Nobody has argued that “loving couples” do not have the right to be. That is a different thing from extending the meaning of the word signifying the societal institution of “marriage” to forms of interpersonal union that it has never before signified, and using government power to force the majority in society to accept that, at the demand of a small but loud special interest.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

couples are not so different, no matter their age, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Posted by Russ at July 7, 2011 2:49 PM That is your OPINION not fact. An opinion most of the world doesn’t share. Tolerance of sodomy is regressive. It is time for us to move into the 21st century. 2500 years ago primitive society condoned and even accepted this filth. Indeed, in Greece, if you didn’t let your son get sodomized by a noble who fancied him you might end up dead. After the fall of the ancient world both Christians and Muslims executed these offenders. Which is a penalty still carried out either officially or unofficially over large swaths of the planet. Hate to dissilusion the apologists, but none other than the UNited Nations recently voted to support sodomites. Here’s the story: This Blog Linked From Here Inmates’ blogs Online Press & Media Links & Resources This Blog Linked From Here Inmates’ blogs Online Press & Media Links & Resources Loading… Friday, November 19, 2010 UN deletes gay reference from anti-execution measures A United Nations panel has deleted a reference to gays and lesbians in a resolution condemning unjustified executions. The motion was introduced by Morocco and Mali and the vast majority of countries in support were African or Arabic. Many of the supporting countries criminalise homosexuality and five treat it as a capital offence. The amendment called for the words “sexual orientation” to be replaced with “discriminatory reasons on any basis”. The resolution makes explicit reference to a large number of groups, including human rights defenders, religious and ethnic minorities and street children. It narrowly passed 79-70 and was then approved by the UN General Assembly committee with 165 in favour and ten abstentions. The amendment, which condemns extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions and… Read more »

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

Russ continues to argue against his own fantasies rather than what others have written. Nobody has argued that “loving couples” do not have the right to be.

Um, that’s not what I said. Read it again.

That is a different thing from extending the meaning of the word signifying the societal institution of “marriage” to forms of interpersonal union that it has never before signified…

So you would have defended continuing bans on interracial marriage that were common in the 40s and 50s for the same reason? Otherwise, I’m not following you. I don’t see how one commitment to a partner is different than the other.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

Russ, I would be sorry that you are unable to follow me, but I know that you are merely unwilling. I wrote much earlier in this thread about the different between this and the race, issue, but like a typical lib you keep playing the race card.
Races are no longer wild in this game, so it won’t work.

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