Creative Destruction

May 23, 2006

Some Reasons for Optimism Regarding Same Sex Marriage

Filed under: Current Events,LGBT Issues — Ampersand @ 7:38 am

Rhode Island May Be Next
Percent of likely Rhode Island voters who oppose same-sex marriage: 39%
Percent of likely Rhode Island voters who favor same-sex marriage: 45%
(Source).

Changing Demographics Are On The Side Of Equality

Even two years ago, 15- to 25-year-olds favored gay marriage by 56 percent to 39 percent, according to a national survey by the University of Maryland’s youth think tank, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE at civicyouth.org). […]

Within perhaps 10 years, gay marriage will enjoy majority support nationwide because younger, more accepting voters will have replaced many of today’s 65-plus voters. Notable findings include:

# Eighteen- to 29-year-olds are the first age group of voters to prefer gay marriage over other options for gay couples, 2004 election exit polls show. Asked their preference, 41 percent chose marriage for gay couples, 28 percent favored civil unions and only 30 percent said no recognition.

# Age breakdowns provided to me by the Pew Research Center of its March poll show the 18-to-29 group favoring gay marriage, 52-42 percent. That contrasts with the 65-plus crowd — opposed by 69-20 percent. (When all ages are combined, a bare majority — 51 percent — opposes gay marriage. Go to: people-press.org.)

Poll Shows Most Americans Oppose Federal Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage

The polling, conducted in April among 802 registered voters nationwide, showed that 49 percent of those questioned believe gay marriage should be a state issue. Only 33 percent of those questioned believed the issue should be decided by amending the U.S. Constitution. Another 18 percent were not sure how to handle the issue.

Why is the leadership of the anti-equality movement so desparate to get marriage banned in the Constitution? Because they know that if they don’t win soon, and in a way that will be incredibly hard to undo, they won’t win at all.

(For more stats – with graphs! – see Pam’s House Blend.)

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48 Comments »

  1. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see a poll on how many people know about Kaguya, the mouse with two moms, and her 450 dead sisters, and how many people favor same-sex procreation remaining legal? How many people support the “right” of a scientist to attempt conceiving a child with same-sex gametes, even though they have not been able to duplicate the “success” of Kaguya on pigs yet, because every species has different DNA that is expressed differently by the two sexes for each species? In other words, after people learn that there is no way to safely create a child that is missing a man’s or a woman’s genetic imprinting, what percent of them would still say that same-sex couples should have the same right to conceive that a man and a woman do?

    Comment by John Howard — May 23, 2006 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  2. John, we’re talking about marriage here, not your fixation with a type of reproduction that doesn’t exist yet.

    Comment by mythago — May 23, 2006 @ 11:58 pm | Reply

  3. Kaguya exists. They could try that on humans right now. I think it would be interesting to see the polls on whether people even know about this, and if they do know about it, what they think. You can hope that people remain ignorant until it exists, as befits your evil bitter yet smug misandry. You rely on ignorance and intimidation to keep this subject out of the debate, because you can see that anyone with half a mind would reach the conclusion that people have, and only have, a right to conceive with a person of the other sex. Same sex conception should be prohibited now, before someone becomes the first experiment in it.

    This is not comparable to IVF, and people should be educated as to the difference. Then people should discuss how conception rights relate to marriage, and what would happen if marriage stopped protecting conception rights. Are you afraid of people discussing these things, Mythago?

    Comment by John Howard — May 24, 2006 @ 2:54 am | Reply

  4. John, whenever I read your posts – or, more accurately, your one post, which you repeat frequently – I’m reminded of what Churchill said about fanatics.

    Speaking as an evil bitter yet smug misandrist myself (more of a misanthrope, really), I promise you I’m not afraid of your views becoming publicized. On the contrary, it’s my fond though unrealistic hope that your writings become known far and wide as an example of the finest arguments the anti-same-sex-marriage movement has to offer.

    Comment by Ampersand — May 24, 2006 @ 5:06 am | Reply

  5. Are we sure the age differences are a cohort effect, rather than a life cycle effect? That is, how do we know those tolerant young adults won’t settle in to homophobia later in life as they feel more invested in the status quo system? (My own suspicion is that it’s a combination of the two, meaning the trend is in the right direction, but we’ll have to keep fending off anti-marriage amendments for quite some time unless some big event jolts our culture.)

    Comment by Stentor — May 24, 2006 @ 6:58 pm | Reply

  6. Stentor’s point is valid. I don’t know of any hard data; anecdotally, I do know that at age 19 I thought gay marriage (well, civil unions, back then) were obviously right and just and anyone who didn’t think so was a vilely misguided homophobe. At 38, not so much. (Still OK with civil unions; a lot more sympathetic to people opposed.)

    My gut feeling is that gay rights have crested. Massachusetts will likely keep its marriages, and maybe another state or two will join in – and then federalist pressure will suffice to take the wind out of the people pushing hardest for the agenda item, as the people who really care just move to RI or MA. But that’s just gut feeling; no analysis behind it.

    Comment by bobhayes — May 24, 2006 @ 11:35 pm | Reply

  7. that would be “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”

    Hey, how about that Steve Nash?

    If you really hope that my views get publicized, why don’t you publicize them? Link to my site, link to the articles about the mouse, start some threads on the subject.

    Comment by John Howard — May 25, 2006 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

  8. btw, Amp, remember you want to publicize my views, not me. There’s no doubt I’m fanatical, annoying, reprehensible, hypocritical, etc. I’d really appreciate it if you publicized the argument though, and please throw in that line about it being the best argument the anti-ssm side has to offer.
    And I think you could play a huge role in getting federal recognition and social security survivor benefits for married (technically ‘civil unioned’, but we can say married) same-sex couples, and that would make a big difference in lots of people’s lives.

    Comment by John Howard — May 26, 2006 @ 1:52 am | Reply

  9. I hope this doesn’t get ignored or forgotten. Amp, remember to publicize this issue like you claim is your fond hope. Also, Jake Squid was going to elaborate on his initial thoughts about the compromise here but apparently hasn’t had time.

    This compromise could really happen, but it will take a spirit of cooperation and openness. Too many people would rather just self-righteously argue forever rather than accomplish anything.

    Comment by John Howard — May 26, 2006 @ 3:16 pm | Reply

  10. That is, how do we know those tolerant young adults won’t settle in to homophobia later in life as they feel more invested in the status quo system?

    What is there about the status quo system that would make young adults more homophobic? Especially as they have grown up in a society with less intolerance.

    Comment by mythago — May 26, 2006 @ 8:27 pm | Reply

  11. I agree with what Mythago said.

    To that, I’ll add that the movement for LGBT rights over the last 50 years does seem to support my belief that each generation is more tolerant than the previous generation, and remains so throughout their life (although certainly some individuals backslide).

    Who do you think supports LGBT rights more – the average 20 year old today, or the average 20 year old in 1960?

    Comment by Ampersand — May 26, 2006 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

  12. John, alas, I’m not convinced that your writings can become the primary example of anti-equality argumentation in the USA. You simply lack the media presence of a Maggie Gallagher, and my tiny blog isn’t able to push you (or me, for that matter) to that level.

    Nor do I believe that the compromise you call for has any chance of happening if LGBT advocates give up pushing for full equality, including marriage rights. Even if marriage equality advocates had a unitary voice, and that voice was willing to give up marriage for “civil unions,” there is no good-faith negotiating partner with any decision-making power on the other side.

    Comment by Ampersand — May 26, 2006 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

  13. What is there about the status quo system that would make young adults more homophobic?

    Not the status quo system per se; more spillover from the generalized disenchantment with liberal thought that most folk have over time.

    Comment by Robert — May 26, 2006 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  14. So now you don’t want to publicize conception rights as a definition of marriage (aka, my views)? I think you underestimate the power of your blog, it is very infuential and well-respected, both for its discourse and good design. My writings are very deficient and do not do the issue I write about justice.

    …full equality, including marriage rights

    But what does that mean, exactly? Do you really think they all want the right to attempt same-sex conception? If so, don’t you think that should be made clear? It is frankly duplicious, unfair, bait-and-switch manipulation, and I don’t think you should want to be a part of that. Publicize this issue on your blog like you said you would so that bigger blogs with better writers than me start discussing conception rights of same-sex couples. Put your money where your mouth is, and stop trying to bury this topic under mountains of stories about inconsequential argument fodder.

    Moving from natural conception to people being conceived from genetic manipulation is the most significant change in the history of life, and our generation owes it to posterity to take this move seriously and think about it some. So no more cartoons until you’ve gotten serious for a bit, OK? Stop burying this issue.

    Comment by John Howard — May 27, 2006 @ 1:48 am | Reply

  15. Moving from natural conception to people being conceived from genetic manipulation is the most significant change in the history of life, and our generation owes it to posterity to take this move seriously and think about it some.

    Stop labeling your argument “eggandsperm” and instead use that as your starting sentence, and you’ll be well ahead of the game.

    You are right that the broad issue is a very important one. I will give it some thought in coming days.

    Comment by Robert — May 27, 2006 @ 2:35 am | Reply

  16. Not the status quo system per se; more spillover from the generalized disenchantment with liberal thought that most folk have over time.

    Yes, but this disillusionment (to modern liberal thought) does not necessarily lead to opposition to SSM, the spillover is caused by adopting the package -view of politics, that one most toe with the party line on issues such as SSM. And since liberals generally support it, and conservatives oppose it, well, you get the point.

    I fail to see why the fact that I disagree vehemently with Amp on many issues would make it impossible for me to agree with him on some others.

    John Howard:

    Then people should discuss how conception rights relate to marriage, and what would happen if marriage stopped protecting conception rights.

    ?

    Isn’t your argument that there should be a law that would restrict conception rights to (OSM) marriages?

    You argue that marriage protects these conception rights, while at the same time you are worried that marriage would stop protecting these rights?

    At the moment, you seem to me being in the minority thinking (and legally wrong) that conception right are intrinsically related to marriage.

    Comment by Tuomas — May 27, 2006 @ 8:33 am | Reply

  17. Why do you think it’s “legally wrong”, Tuomas?

    If we were to prohibit same-sex conception (or non male-female conception), yet allow same-sex couples to marry, then, for the first time eve, there would be a marriage that was prohibited from conceiving. That scenario would mean that marriage no longer protected conception rights, and that we could prohibit any marriage from procreating if we thought their conception would be genetically unsound. Currently we cannot do not, nor should we be allowed to do that.

    The state can take a married couples children away as soon as they are born, but they cannot stop a married couple from conceiving. (Except in the case of a couple that should never have been allowed to marry, like incestuous couples, in which case the marriage is declared void and then they no longer allowed to conceive.)

    Conception rights are certainly related to marriage, and ought to be explicitly declared the definition of marriage. A look at state laws and Supreme Court cases show that conception rights are implicitly intrinsic to marriage, and there has been no case that declared unmarried conception a right. It is not.

    Comment by John Howard — May 27, 2006 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  18. Robert, thanks for the advice. Other people have told me similar, but different, things about the phrases and approach I’ve been using, saying some of them are off-putting or whatnot. While I do try to follow their advice (and maybe eggandsperm was a bad choice for a blog name), I also just wish these people would just make the argument they think should be made, using their approach, and if that takes off, and I’m forgotten, that’s fine with me.
    Also, every different person who has advised me (marty, on lawn, chairm, even maggie and leon kass and margo somerville and bill mckibben) have all had slightly different (but all equally put off) reactions and advice. For example, lots of people think it’s off-putting hyperbole when I mention how moving to creating children though genetic manipulation (though I’ve never used those exact words) ought to be carefully considered. But, if that concept works for you, take that idea and drop the egg and sperm things that you don’t like, and run with it!

    And I’ll be sure to use that phrase more often, too, but still, stressing the safety risks of the baby is what many other people connect with.

    Comment by John Howard — May 27, 2006 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

  19. Not the status quo system per se; more spillover from the generalized disenchantment with liberal thought that most folk have over time.

    That tends to be a function of self-interest and resistance to change. People don’t necessarily become more racist as they get older; why would they become more homophobic?

    Comment by mythago — May 27, 2006 @ 3:58 pm | Reply

  20. That tends to be a function of self-interest and resistance to change.

    No, it tends to be a function of the collection of empirical data.

    Everyone is a socialist until the first time they have to make a payroll.

    Comment by Robert — May 27, 2006 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  21. right, and everyone thinks “why not let gays marry” until they think about the societal implications and consider some issues they hadn’t thought about before. I for one was very pro gay rights in the 80’s, laughing at the stupid old religious people along with all my friends.

    Also, Mythago, when people are young they tend to equate gay rights with racial civil rights, and they support gay rights as a way to prove that they would never have been racists like people were in their parents generation were. But as people grow up they realize that was a simplistic reactionary understanding and they realize the two things are not related, they can’t prove they are not racists by supporting gay marriage.

    Comment by John Howard — May 27, 2006 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

  22. Everyone is a socialist until the first time they have to make a payroll.

    Exactly. And everyone is about preserving open space until they realize it makes the value of their house go down. That’s less about principle and more about “I got mine, Jack.”

    Comment by mythago — May 28, 2006 @ 12:47 pm | Reply

  23. Why do you think it’s “legally wrong”, Tuomas?

    Because people who procreate outside marriages haven’t committed a crime.

    Comment by Tuomas — May 28, 2006 @ 3:03 pm | Reply

  24. Well, if that were true, then the Lovings weren’t being denied their basic civil right to procreate by being prohibited from marrying.

    Certainly, even today after Virginia’s court supposedly struck down their fornication law and people are now able to have children outside of marriage (aka, illegitimately – ie, illegally), conception rights are still related to marriage, and are indeed the sine qua non (which means “without which, not”)- if two people do not have a right to conceive children, they are not married. So if we prohibit people from conceiving with someone of their same sex, they cannot be married.

    One of the neat things this compromise would accomplish, besides giving social security benefits to civil unions and prohiting human genetic engineering, would be to remind people that there still is a connection between marriage and conception rights. It would be foundational to another law that is needed protect children’s rights and strengthen families by making intentionally joining unmarried gametes a federal crime. But that law doesn’t have to come first, it would be easier to pass after the marriage compromise is done.

    Comment by John Howard — May 28, 2006 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

  25. The Lovings were being denied their basic civil right to marry the consenting adult of their choice by being prohibited from marrying.

    Regarding if demographic changes account for increasingly liberal views of homosexuality, while looking for other things I ran across this:

    America’s Liberalization in Attitudes toward Homosexuality, 1973 to 1998
    Jeni Loftus
    American Sociological Review, Vol. 66, No. 5 (Oct., 2001) , pp. 762-782

    The author examines survey results from different years, and concludes that demographic changes account for about half of the changing attitudes over the years. Of course, that still leaves half the change which was due to factors other than demographics.

    [Edited to make clearer]

    Comment by Ampersand — May 29, 2006 @ 8:46 am | Reply

  26. The basic civil right they were being denied was procreation with the consenting adult of their choice. Procreation was declared a basic civil right in Skinner, and then that case was cited in Loving. You need only to look at the word “miscegenation” to see the root “gene” in there – the idea was to keep the “races” from conceiving children that were half black and half white, mixing the genes. But that was declared to be an “unsupportable basis” to keep two people from marrying, as it had the effect of maintaining a system of white supremacy. Other basis, obviously, are “supportable”, such as not allowing an adult man to marry his consenting adult sister. And again, what is being denied in those cases is procreation. No one objects if a brotehr and sister love each other and take care of each other, they just arent allowed to procreate – ie, to marry. So, using the exact same meaning of marriage that was used in Loving and Zablocki, we can – we have to – say that the dangers of mixing a woman’s genes with another woman’s genes to conceive a child are indeed a very supportable basis to not allow them to marry.

    Comment by John Howard — May 29, 2006 @ 2:03 pm | Reply

  27. Ok, I’ll bite. John Howard, what specifically is your objection to the Kaguya technology? And if a married man and woman employed a reproduction technology that proved to be equally odious to you, would you propose banning it as well?

    [I]f two people do not have a right to conceive children, they are not married.

    I’m not acquainted with that principle. So once a man and woman are married, you conclude that they are Constitutionally entitled to employ any reproductive technology they like? Or that if the state bars the use of a reproductive technology, it would have the effect of nullifying their marriage – changing their tax status, social security survivor benefits and the like?

    This seems like a case of someone arguing with ever more elaborate models that the sun really does revolve around the earth. I don’t doubt that the argument could be made; I just have to conclude that there are simpler alternative theories. And here, the simple alternative is to conclude that the state’s authority to regulate a reproductive technology does not depend on the marital state of the people so regulated.

    (Why do I suspect this isn’t the end of the issue?)

    Comment by nobody.really — May 30, 2006 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

  28. what specifically is your objection to the Kaguya technology?
    First of all, it puts the child at enormous risk of birth defects and turns him into a science experiment for his whole life, even his children will have to be studied. Second, hundreds of stillbirths and deaths during infancy will probably happen, as happened with Kaguya. Third, it also moves us into a new realm of creating people by genetic engineering, even if it is considered safe. Fourth, the experiments to justify it require unethical experiments on animals. Animal experimentation can only be considered ethical when it is necessary to cure human diseases that cause suffering, and there is no suffering or disease involved here. Any one of these objections suffices, plus there are lots more where those came from.

    So once a man and woman are married, you conclude that they are Constitutionally entitled to employ any reproductive technology they like?

    No, but they do have a right to attempt to conceive together. If there were a technology that was barred (and there isn’t – it is completely unregulated) a marriage would have a right to attempt to conceive using every other method. They have a right to attempt to combine their gametes – we approve in principle of childern being created by joining the man’s genes with the woman’s genes. We should not approve of a man’s genes being joined with another man’s genes in principle, because it is not the technology that would be the cause of any problem, it is the genes themselves, male-imprinted genes can only ethically be joined to female-imprinted genes.

    So, barring a specific technology (let’s say, IVF) would not affect the right in principle of any marriage to attempt to conceive children together. But barring combining gametes of the same sex would obviously publically and totally mean that same-sex couples did not have a right to attempt to conceive. See the difference?

    Comment by John Howard — May 30, 2006 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  29. what specifically is your objection to the Kaguya technology?
    First of all….

    Great, thanks. Just to be clear, if a married man and woman employed a reproduction technology that proved to be equally odious to you, you would see no problems with banning it on the theory that they have less odious alternatives for conception, right?

    [W]e approve in principle of children being created by joining the man’s genes with the woman’s genes. We should not approve of a man’s genes being joined with another man’s genes in principle….

    Just to be clear, who is “we”? Are you discussing state action, or informal social opinion, or what?

    I personally have not offered an opinion on these matters. And I prefer government that offers neither approval nor disapproval, but regulates to the extent necessary to achieve legitimate state interests. To the extent that there is a state interest at stake here, the interest would seem to apply regardless of the marital status of the people involved.

    We should not approve of a man’s genes being joined with another man’s genes in principle, because it is not the technology that would be the cause of any problem, it is the genes themselves, male-imprinted genes can only ethically be joined to female-imprinted genes.

    Is your conclusion that “male-imprinted genes can only ethically be joined to female-imprinted genes” a matter of evidence, or a matter of principle? That is, if a new or refined technology emerges for reproduction through the combination of genes, and this technology did not cause the problems associated with Kaguya, would you still object to this technology?

    So, barring a specific technology (let’s say, IVF) would not affect the right in principle of any marriage to attempt to conceive children together.

    But MAY the state bar IVF? And if a specific couple found that it could not conceive in any other conceivable way (ha!), would the state then be blocked from applying its prohibition to that couple?

    But barring combining gametes of the same sex would obviously publically and totally mean that same-sex couples did not have a right to attempt to conceive.

    I don’t know what a “right to attempt to conceive” means.

    I may have a “right” to attempt to fly by flapping my arms, in the sense that there’s no blanket prohibition on my doing so. But if I attempt to do so at a time, place or manner that harms others – say, in school – the state may sanction me, my “rights” notwithstanding. Similarly, I may have a right to attempt to conceive in the sense that there’s no blanket prohibition on my doing so. But I can still be sanctioned for attempting to do so in an inappropriate time, place or manner – say, in school. So I don’t see the problem with simply saying that, to the extent that the state has an interest in barring the Kaguya technology, it has that right regardless of the marital state of the affected parties.

    See the difference?

    I see A difference. But I am not aware of a “last possibility for conception” exception to the exercise of state authority. Consequently, I don’t know what significance to attach to the difference. Seriously, is there some kind of IVF case out there that declares such a principle?

    Comment by nobody.really — May 30, 2006 @ 4:39 pm | Reply

  30. if a married man and woman employed a reproduction technology that proved to be equally odious to you, you would see no problems with banning it on the theory that they have less odious alternatives for conception, right?

    i think IVF should be banned, as there are not only much greater risks of certain birth defects, but use of IVF increases the overall percentage of people born with birth defects and has other detrimental effects as well. But banning IVF would not change any marriage’s right to attempt to conceive.

    who is “we”?

    Citizens of the state that grants a marriage license. When the rown clerk grants a marriage license, they do it on behalf of “us” the citizens of the state, just like “we” issue hunting and driving licenses.

    To the extent that there is a state interest at stake here, the interest would seem to apply regardless of the marital status of the people involved.

    Right, people would be prohibited from attempting to create a person using anything other than a man and a woman’s gametes, regardless of anyone’s marital status.

    a matter of evidence, or a matter of principle?

    Certainly the overwhelming evidence is that the genes of the two sexes are imprinted differently, and cannot be combined into a viable embryo without genetically modifying one of the person’s genes. At that point, it becomes a matter of principle that human (and animal) experiments and attempts at doing that are unethical. If it were possible, and didn’t put the child at risk or turn him into a science experiment, I would not object, but that is imagining a fantasy world. It is the equivilent of saying that it might be possible to bring murdered people back to life, so would I still object to murder?

    But MAY the state bar IVF? And if a specific couple found that it could not conceive in any other conceivable way (ha!), would the state then be blocked from applying its prohibition to that couple?

    Certainly the state can ban IVF, but as you seem to understand, there are people who would claim otherwise. Currently no reproductive technology is banned, and that’s why the people who suggest that unsafe forms of same-sex conception like the Kaguya technique could simply be banned one by one are being duplicious, as we have never banned specific techniques before.

    A ban on IVF wouldn’t be applied to any couple, but to the clinics and scientists who would not be allowed to do the procedure anymore. The couple would maintain its right in principle to conceive children, and will continue to be allowed to attempt it as long as they are married, but they just probably never would. (And it’s more than just humorous that we use the same word “conceive” to refer to sperm fertilizing egg and also something being possible to believe, but I’ll save that for another post sometime…)

    I don’t know what a “right to attempt to conceive” means.

    It’s what a marriage has. There’s no guarantee of success, but when we bar attempting something, we do it because the consequences of succeeding would be bad. Do you know what “attempted murder” means? The problem comes when what is attempted actually succeeds, so we black people from attempting it. If we think the attempt is credible, or sometimes even if we don’t, the person who attempts to do something that is unethical and wrong is punished.

    So I don’t see the problem with simply saying that, to the extent that the state has an interest in barring the Kaguya technology, it has that right regardless of the marital state of the affected parties.

    Right, the ban would apply regardless of marital status. But once that ban is in place, same-sex couples would not have a right to conceive children, only both sex couples would have that right. Adam would have a right to conceive with Eve, but not with Steve. The technology has nothing to do with it, no matter how it attempted it would be unethical.

    But I am not aware of a “last possibility for conception” exception to the exercise of state authority.

    Not sure what you mean in this paragraph.

    Consequently, I don’t know what significance to attach to the difference.

    The significance is that same-sex couples wouldn’t have all the rights of marriage, or all the rights of a both-sex couple.

    Comment by John Howard — May 30, 2006 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

  31. Ok, I think we’re getting somewhere.

    So I don’t see the problem with simply saying that, to the extent that the state has an interest in barring the Kaguya technology, it has that right regardless of the marital state of the affected parties.
    Right, the ban would apply regardless of marital status.

    All right! Isn’t that a simpler way of stating the issue? No need to muddy the waters by introducing discussions of marriage, gender, race, class, party affiliation, blood type, shoe size or any other variables. Ya wanna ban reproductive technologies that produce the bad results of the Kaguya technology.

    Cuz it’s the results that are driving your concern, right?

    a matter of evidence, or a matter of principle?
    Certainly the overwhelming evidence is that the genes of the two sexes are imprinted differently, and cannot be combined into a viable embryo without genetically modifying one of the person’s genes. At that point, it becomes a matter of principle that human (and animal) experiments and attempts at doing that are unethical. If it were possible, and didn’t put the child at risk or turn him into a science experiment, I would not object, but that is imagining a fantasy world. It is the equivalent of saying that it might be possible to bring murdered people back to life, so would I still object to murder?

    Good analogy. So, if murder could be rendered harmless, would you still object?

    If some new technology rendered murder harmless (say, time travel), I might surrender my objections, or at least modify them. That’s because I tend to evaluate things based on their consequences. But not everyone feels that way. Some people would say “it is WRONG to eat pork or commit murder; the fact that there may be no harm in eating pork or committing murder is irrelevant.” I have learned that there is little point in discussing policy with people who start a priori with their conclusion (their “principle”) rather than reasoning ex ante from consequences (“evidence.”)

    Hence the initial question. If you’re concerned about certain undesired consequences of the Kaguya technology, then the straightforward approach would be to advocate banning the use of technologies that produce such bad consequences. The fact that you’ve eschewed the straightforward approach, and instead chosen to couch your issue in terms of marriage and gender, has caused me to wonder about your objectives. I have come to wonder whether your objective is not merely to avoid the bad consequences of the Kaguya technology, but to avoid any technology that would permit a person to be formed from the combination of the genetic material of two people of the same sex – regardless of consequences. I wouldn’t begrudge you that view. But I would stop wasting everyone’s time.

    The one argument you raise to justify tying your concerns about the Kaguya technology with SSM is your assertion that the state may not deprive a married couple of their only ability to conceive, or if the state does so then the couple is no longer married. I have twice asked you for a citation for this assertion, and I now ask yet again. Can ya help me out here, John?

    Comment by nobody.really — May 31, 2006 @ 10:59 am | Reply

  32. We can leave marriage out of it. I just can’t believe that conception rights are being left out of the marriage debate. Not only have I identified a right that same-sex couples should not have, but the right I have identified is the sine non qua of marriage, the essential right, the only essential right of marriage, the synonym of marriage. But we can leave marriage out of this.

    I’m not interested in banning specific technologies, because it doesn’t matter what the technology is called or how it is used, it is the intended result that we need to ban, or rather, attempts at producing the inteded result. It’s not just same-sex conception, but any form of conception that does not combine a man’s gamete with a woman’s gamete, ie, all forms of conception that have not been attempted yet, such as cloning, genetic engineering, human-animal chimeras, using dead people’s dna, etc. The only form of conception that should be allowed is when a man and a woman that are eligible for marriage consent to having a child together and agree to combine their gametes. Not coincidentally, that is the the only form of conception that could not practically be prevented, whereas all the other forms require scientists and labs and quite a bit of effort.

    Please read Bill McKibben’s Enough – we need to figure out how to stop genetic engineering and preserve natural male-female conception. Gay marriage is at odds with that. I wonder about the objectives of people who claim to only want the right to visit each other in the hospital, etc, but it turns out they refuse to give up the right to attempt to conceive children together.

    I never said the state may not deprive a married couple of their only ability to conceive, I am not sure what you mean by that. The state may not sterilize anyone, and must allow people to marry the person of their choice, except for the supportable basis exceptions. I have said that married couples all have a right to attempt to conceive, and it has been hard to get even a single regulation of reproductive technology passed, because that right is considered so protected and private. They have a right to use new technologies that maybe no one has thought of yet, though we have a right to ban technologies once we get around to it.

    Comment by John Howard — May 31, 2006 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

  33. Now I think maybe I know what you mean – the state cannot prohibit a married couple from attempting to conceive. The state can take a marrried couple’s baby away from them as soon as it is born in the hospital, and even lock the woman up during her pregnancy so that they make sure the mother does not steal her own baby, but the state cannot prohibit them from conceiving more babies in the first place.
    And a married couple has a right to seek help conceiving from experts, and the experts can think up whatever convoluted ways they want to. We might decide to ban one or two of these methods – though you have to take note that the state has never banned any method before – but the married couple still has a right to seek out unbanned methods. No married couple can be told that they cannot try any method to conceive. find me the couple that is not allowed to conceive, by any method. I can find you lots of couples that are not allowed to conceive, and eithout exception, they are not allowed to marry.

    Comment by John Howard — June 1, 2006 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  34. What I meant was “find me the marriage that is not allowed to conceive by any method. I can find you lots of couples that are not allowed to conceive together, and without exception, they are not allowed to marry”.

    But like I said, we can leave marriage out of this debate, nobody. Are you ready to agree that attempts at same-sex conception should be prohibited? That people should have to choose a person of the other sex to conceive with, if they want to conceive? That conception is a right that only both-sex couples should have?

    Comment by John Howard — June 1, 2006 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

  35. Hey nobody, when I said “please read Enough”, I didn’t mean “please read it before you get back to me”, I just meant please read it sometime soon.

    Robert, Daran, Amp, have you been following this? I know it isn’t as interesting as rape and D&D, and I know you don’t like being bullied into thinking about something, but this is damn important, and you people – you three people – are very important too. Comments please!

    Comment by John Howard — June 1, 2006 @ 7:55 pm | Reply

  36. I’ve been reading.

    I think you’re very persuasive that it ought to be illegal to create a human baby the way that mouse was created.

    I think you make no sense at all explaining why we can’t just ban that procedure, and any other procedures that create too much danger to infants, for all couples, regardless of if they are same-sex or cross-sex couples.

    I have nothing against banning a particular reproductive procedure for all couples, regardless of sex, regardless of if they’re married or not, based on the merits. But nothing about that logically leads to the conclusion that we must ban same-sex marriage.

    Comment by Ampersand — June 1, 2006 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

  37. Thanks, Amp.

    We can’t ban it procedure by procedure for a bunch of reasons:

    1) the dangers are inherent in the way conception works (it is sexual!). We know enough about genes to know that men’s and womens are expressed differently. We know that we cannot simply fertilize a woman’s gamete with another woman’s gamete, it is not just a matter of lab technology needing to advance, because genetic manipulation is involved. And we can’t learn about what these differences are without experimentation, and we can’t experiment on other species (we know that other species have different differences between the two sexes).

    We also know that we don’t know ninety-nine percent about how our genes work. We cannot explain why, but we know that when a woman’s gamete is fertilized by a man’s gamete, a miracle happens and another person is conceived from that man and woman’s genes.

    Procedures that join a man and a woman’s gametes are not 450-1 crap shoots, but anything that doesn’t, is, by its very nature of attempting to do the conception in some other way, any other way. Any other way is unethical before we even ask about the technique, do you see?

    Gotta go check out mavs-suns. Don’t know who I’m rooting for anymore. Again, thanks for working with me…

    Comment by John Howard — June 1, 2006 @ 9:07 pm | Reply

  38. If that is starting to seem persuasive, please take a step back and ask yourself what is really important. Maybe all those other rights of marriage for all same-sex couples in every state and at the federal level are more important than the word marriage and conception rights, and the trade-off I am proposing, which requires some significant capitulation on both sides, but only over trivial matters, and also makes great meaningful gains on both sides that could really benefit people and also clarify and resolve the debate, looks better and better? I truly hope so.

    Comment by John Howard — June 2, 2006 @ 1:35 am | Reply

  39. Amp:
    I think you’re very persuasive that it ought to be illegal to create a human baby the way that mouse was created.

    Why?

    Comment by Robert — June 2, 2006 @ 2:02 am | Reply

  40. I’m not averse to discussions of bioethics, but could we please not allow John to hijack every thread with his pet obsession?

    Comment by mythago — June 2, 2006 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  41. Hey, John, thanks for your thoughts. I think you and I have articulated our views, and we’re just kinda replowing the same ground now. Let me see if I understand you correctly:

    I understand you to oppose procreation through the combination of genetic material from people of the same sex (and, indeed, IVF for people of differing sexes). I understand that there is no set of circumstances under which you would entertain a different point of view. I understand you to believe that there is a legal conflict between granting marriage rights to same-sex couples and regulating reproductive technologies.

    I do not understand the basis for this legal conclusion, or your reluctance to provide legal citations. I believe that government can act, and should act solely, to promote legitimate governmental interests. To the extent that government has a legitimate governmental interest in banning a reproductive technology, I do not understand the granting of SSM rights to be an impediment to such a ban. To the extent that government does not have a legitimate governmental interest in banning a reproductive technology, then it should refrain from doing so regardless of the legality of SSM. Because I (and now you) see no distinction here based on marriage, I fail to see the legal relevance of your concerns to the issue of SSM.

    While you “wonder about the objectives of people who claim to only want the right to visit each other in the hospital, etc, but it turns out they refuse to give up the right to attempt to conceive children together,” I do not know if I’ve ever encountered any such person. Honestly, I’ve never heard anyone express an interest in this idea besides yourself. Rather, the people you may need to contest with are people (and courts) like me, who may lack a personal stake in the debate but simply have a somewhat more limited view on the role of government. After all, I have no plans to conceive any more children, but I would oppose efforts to legally preclude this option. If this provokes you to wonder about my hidden motives, hey, knock yourself out.

    Anyway, this kinda wraps up my thoughts on the subject.

    Comment by nobody.really — June 2, 2006 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

  42. Robert,

    As I understand it, producing Kaguya required producing several other full-term baby mice who died in the mouse equivalent of early infancy. Although needlessly creating a full-term infant who is doomed to die within a year is not the same thing as infanticide, it’s still morally dubious, and should not be undertaken needlessly.

    Comment by Ampersand — June 2, 2006 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  43. I understand you to oppose procreation through the combination of genetic material from people of the same sex (and, indeed, IVF for people of differing sexes).

    IVF isn’t in the same catagory. It is a natural fertilization, requiring no genetic manipulation and the child produced is genetically the same as the child would have been if the couple conceived in utero. It is also not something I think needs to be banned or discussed. I brought it up as an example to show that a hypothetical ban on some reproductive technology would not affect the rights of a marriage to attempt to conceive together.

    I am suggesting that we should ban all forms of conception that require genetic manipulation and genetic experimentation. In other words, everything that doesn’t combine a man’s and a woman’s gamete naturally.

    I understand that there is no set of circumstances under which you would entertain a different point of view.

    What do you mean, like animal experiments? No, because they are different animals. The people that produced the mouse have not been able to duplicate their “success” in pigs yet, and that presumably means lots of pigs have been been impregnanted with doomed piglets.

    But, if someone announces they have produced children from two people of the same sex, and we didn’t decide to ban the procedure for safety concerns, I would agree that same-sex couples should be married before they attempted to have children together.

    I understand you to believe that there is a legal conflict between granting marriage rights to same-sex couples and regulating reproductive technologies.

    That’s putting it the way Margeret Somerville puts it, she thinks that when it comes time for a court to decide if there is a right to attempt same-sex conception, the fact that this couple is married will be part of their case. I agree that’s possible, but it would sure require lots of people to forget everything they said about marriage having nothing to do with reproductive rights. And since we have to ban it for unmarried couples too, I don’t think that’s the way it would play out.

    What I say is that, if we enact the necessary ban on unethical non man-woman conception, we would create a right that only both sex couples would have, so those blue HRC equal signs would need a little line pasted through them. And as the people involved in the marriage debate debate, they might want to consider this rather significant point.

    If you are for limited government, you should support a blanket ban on genetic engineering. It will require much more government to investigate each procedure one by one, and deal with the legalities of multiple sources of genetic material. Keeping conception natural is how to keep government out of it. Right now, government is plowing billions of dollars into this research. You want big government, keep genetic engineering legal. The government will decide each and every gene in your grandchildren’s bodies. In contrast, a simple law that forbade such attempts would not require much policing, because of the way scientists have to cooperate and stay above ground to advance the research and get the volunteers and donors. The fines would be huge, like the proposed fines for cloning. (and are you against the cloning ban for the same reason? This would be more effective and easier to enforce than the Brownback proposal, and i’ve never seen anyone oppose it because they don’t want “big government”.)

    And you say you haven’t met anyone who refuses to give up same-sex conception rights? I seem to meet them all the time. You are one (your excuse about the role of government doesn’t hold up) Amp is one, Galois is one, I have no idea about Sullivan, he doesn’t touch the topic.

    I think you are wrapping up your thoughts on the subject way too soon, I can’t understand how you could read those posts and still be clinging to the idea that not only should same-sex conception remain legal, but that even if it was banned, it would not have any impact on marriage debate. You are desperately trying to get out from under this issue without anyone noticing how awkward and embarrassing your thoughts on it are.

    As I said, I’m perfectly willing to leave marriage out of it. I’m also willing to leave civil unions and social security benefits out of it. I put those in the compromise to help get the important part done.

    Comment by John Howard — June 2, 2006 @ 2:50 pm | Reply

  44. Though I have to admit that i am trying to promote the idea that marriage and conception rights are not only related, they are synonyms. So though we can and should talk about the legality of creating people in another way than natural male-female conception as a completely seperate issue, independent of marriage, I think we should also be talking about marriage as being the very same thing. There are so many other issues we discuss that would become crystal clear if we restored the meaning of marriage to be conception rights, as it has been understood for so many thousands of years that we dont even bother having a seperate word for “conception rights” – I had to pretty much had to coin it.

    I just wanted to admit to my grand plan, and show it off a ittle bit, but I am perfectly willing to leave marraige out of it and just talk about banning same-sex conception until Congress decides it is safe and ethical.

    Comment by John Howard — June 2, 2006 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

  45. hey nobody, the point at which you “wrapped up your thoughts” left some of your thoughts ill-formed, as I tried to show in my posts above. Please don’t abandon the discussion at the same point you started it, it is possible for your thoughts to grow when someone else engages in a discussion with you.

    And Robert, any comment on Amp’s reasoning? Do you believe that it should remain legal to attempt to join human gametes of the same sex? Why? Would you like to be the result of such an experiment?

    Comment by John Howard — June 6, 2006 @ 3:35 pm | Reply

  46. test

    Comment by John Howard — June 6, 2006 @ 3:37 pm | Reply

  47. nobody, the point at which you “wrapped up your thoughts” left some of your thoughts ill-formed, as I tried to show in my posts above. Please don’t abandon the discussion at the same point you started it, it is possible for your thoughts to grow when someone else engages in a discussion with you.

    And Robert, any comment on Amp’s reasoning? Do you believe that it should remain legal to attempt to join human gametes of the same sex? Why? Would you like to be the result of such an experiment?

    Comment by John — June 6, 2006 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

  48. Robert, have you thought any more about this stuff? Should same-sex couples have the same right to conceive that both sex couples do? Should couples that don’t have a right to conceive be allowed to marry? Should couples that don’t have a right to marry be allowed to conceive?

    Comment by John Howard — October 13, 2006 @ 10:22 pm | Reply


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