Guest Post: Dover_Beach – Limited Government requires defending the conjugal view of marriage

The idea that limited government would be furthered by the state removing itself from the marriage ‘business’ is often made in these parts. This is appealing to many but the grounds for its appeal are only superficial. In a recent study by the Institute for American Values, entitled ‘The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing’, they cautiously calculated that “family fragmentation costs U.S. taxpayers at least $112 billion each year, or over $1 trillion dollars per decade.” (I would think that the pro rata costs are the same here in Australia.)

In What is Marriage?, Girgis, Anderson, and George, having outlined two views of marriage, conjugal and revisionist, argue that there is a clear state interest in marriage, but that this only makes sense within the conjugal view of marriage. They very recently set out their arguments regarding marriage at a Heritage Foundation function in Washington:

What is Marriage? – Man and Woman: A Defense

I find their case particularly convincing. I hope you do too.

[Update: Pedro in comments:

... if you want to attack the size of the welfare state, limiting marriage to a man and a woman is a pretty small start.

Sinc]

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191 Responses to Guest Post: Dover_Beach – Limited Government requires defending the conjugal view of marriage

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Dover – isn’t this just another ‘activity x (that we don’t like) costs society eleventy zillions dollars and that’s good enough reason to prohibit it’ argument?

    Do they have a counter-factual – enforced marriage costs more or less than family fragmentation? In any event most of these costs are likely to be private costs.

    It is not clear to me that people choosing to live their own lives is zero-cost.

  2. Infidel Tiger

    ‘The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing’, they cautiously calculated that “family fragmentation costs U.S. taxpayers at least $112 billion each year

    That seems extremely cautious.

    The nightmare of single parent households:

    http://newsone.com/1195075/children-single-parents-u-s-american/

  3. Jim Rose

    Calls to revitalise marriage and reduce family fragmentation are one of the areas where the Right-wingers fall for the fatal conceit. The war on drugs is another.

    There is a limit to which we can reshape the world in accordance with our desires!

    • Marriage is in decline because rising incomes make having children less appealing and more costly. More part-time work and welfare benefits made it viable for women to have children without having to put-up with a low quality husband.
    • Reliable birth control broke the link between sex and marriage.
    • Lower infant mortality and fewer wars is another factor. To be reasonably sure of ending up with three or four children, mothers use to have to have children non-stop.
    • Raising children is no longer a full-time job. Many household appliances reduced the time need for household production to minutes rather than hours. The time spent on household production has declined drastically, and with it the marriage-specific capital acquired by a wife

  4. Jarrah

    I don’t understand your logic, dover_beach. The family fragmentation cost cited is with the current system in place, ie with government heavily involved in marriage!

    Are you suggesting that, if marriage was privatised, family fragmentation would increase? If that is your argument, what mechanisms do you think would bring that about?

  5. C.L.

    The denialism re the massive statist cost of 1960s ‘progressivism,’ casual divorce, plummeting birth rates, single ‘families,’ family welfarism etc is now just silly. The project of marrying (if you will) subjectivist nihilism (or social ‘liberalism’ in American terms) to small government has failed spectacularly.

    It’s time to call social liberals what they are: lefties.

  6. Gavin R Putland

    If you suggest that the raising of children is an important and irreversible investment in the future, and that changing the familial environment in which children are raised might therefore be a dangerous experiment, that doesn’t mean you’re religious. It only means you’re cautious.

    But, as a matter of interest, I am religious. About 25 years ago, I rejected Roman Catholicism on my way to becoming Orthodox. In so doing, I read a lot of Roman Catholic polemics.

    As far as I can establish from the reviews, the argument of Girgis, Anderson and George is the same “total union” argument by which Roman Catholic apologists attempt to show that contraception, IVF, surrogacy, sodomy, fornication, adultery, bestiality, etc., etc. are all tarred with the same mortally sinful brush. I couldn’t help noticing (25 years ago) that all of these things except contraception can be attacked on other grounds, and that the “total union” argument was therefore needed for only one purpose: defending the Church’s peculiar position on contraception.

    In short, it seems to me, as one who believes in God without Roman Catholicism, that the allegedly non-religious argument of Girgis, Anderson and George is simply Roman Catholicism without God.

  7. Jim Rose

    C.L., the welfare state is over-rated as a source of single motherhood. There were plenty of widows with children after the world wars.

    Assortative mating is part of the cause these days. Increasingly better-educated women marry other educated men to form power couples with large joint incomes. Many of the left-overs are unappealing husbands for low-skilled women.

  8. John Mc

    As conservatives tend to do, this completely overlooks that people who are suited to marriage would continue to choose marriage as it optimises their circumstances.

    Because the cost/benefit ratio is higher than other lifestyles, people will continue to choose it whether the state regulates it or not.

    But, hey, as a guy who thinks libertarians working with conservatives is a good idea, I’ve learnt, like abortion, that you just leave marriage alone.

  9. Tel

    I don’t like government being able to define marriage, it really belongs in the sphere of the church.

    If people want a private civil contract between themselves then that’s one thing, the government should treat that like any other contract.

    But marriage is a standardized social contract and the point is that recognition of marriage is within some social circle. More than just a private agreement between individuals, no one should ever be forced to recognize anyone else’s marriage, but people will choose to recognize a marriage based on their own beliefs and opinions.

    The original concept of marriage originated from the church groups, and government appropriated control of what never belonged to them. Time to hand it back, central planning does not work for social groups any better than it does for economics.

  10. Tel

    … that changing the familial environment in which children are raised might therefore be a dangerous experiment …

    There never has been A familial environment in which children are raised. Many environments have always exist, and always will exist. The point is that a group of people can get together and decide between them what they see as appropriate, and make that agreement amongst themselves — which is exactly what church groups are all about.

    A local community has the right to decide how they want to structure their lifestyles… and neither government nor anyone else has any business telling them otherwise.

  11. .

    The libertarian solution is to repeal the marriage act and special cases of welfare, remove poverty traps and encourage civil society and philanthropy.

    It’s robust and it works.

    There is no slippery slope with this “schoolkid bonus” nonsense on top of the baby bonus.

    Dover forgets the US conservatives backed the idea of a right to home ownership on traditionalist grounds. We are still living with the results here economically.

  12. Jim Rose

    dot, perhaps we should repeal the law of onctract too.

  13. Jarrah

    “The original concept of marriage originated from the church groups”

    No.

  14. Jim Rose

    The role of the state in marriage is all about protecting mothers from opportunistic breach of a long-term contract with sequential performance.

    Mothers produce the children up-front while the fathers support the children over a long period subsequent. The problem is dead-beat dads.

    Marriage exists in every human society. That says something about its social value.

    The legal rules of marriage were standard and rigid when the marriageable population were homogeneous. As for today’s rules:

    It took almost 40 years for academics to figure out the effect of no-fault divorce on divorce rates (not to mention all the other areas of life no-fault divorce influenced).

    With same-sex marriage and parenting, the issues are much more profound and more difficult to measure. Rushing the work or, worse, pushing research claims beyond what the studies justify, is bad social policy. This goes for both sides of the debate.

    Doug Allen

  15. thefrollickingmole

    Single parented families are (there are exceptions) more likely to produce children who “fail” more in life than traditionaly parented ones..

    Thats not even remotely contraversial, there are no studies shoewing different.
    Im noy divorced but had a look at a lot of this stuff after my brothers government legislated crusifixion divorce.

    I would also note tyhat kids raised by non-traditional familes (ie:2 gay guys) also do better than single parent families.

    Marriage civilizes men as well as the kids, government support removes womens need to be as choosy about their hellspawns fathers.

    How would you feel if I claimed African-American disfunction might be far easier to explain by reference to 75% single parented families than ANY OTHER FACTOR.

    Pg 295 of this article lays out some of the reasoning

    Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality.Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.

    Now both those sites are to be taken with a grain of salt, BUT, I have found no study, which didnt engage in some serious self limiting which is capable of showing better outcomes.

    Rearing rapists: Seventy-two percent of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers. Sixty percent of America’s rapists grew up the same way.
    Source: D. Cornell (et al.), Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 5. 1987. And N. Davidson, “Life Without Father,” Policy Review. 1990.

  16. .

    dot, perhaps we should repeal the law of onctract too.

    There is enough common law to go on.

    Lefty activists judges have actually done us well.

    Gaudron’s expounding of the concept of unjust enrichment has made the law fairer and claims more realistic.

    As for families: the biggest hurdle any family faces is actually buying a home.

    The RATE of taxation on new housing can be over 80 per cent!

    If you make home ownership easier (in an economically sustainable manner) – then you encourage families.

    I’m not sure people (generally) really “choose” to live in million dollar dogboxes, both partners working with no kids.

    Why would a man get married given the lack of fairness in family court rulings?

    Are you suggesting that, if marriage was privatised, family fragmentation would increase? If that is your argument, what mechanisms do you think would bring that about?

    Of course it wouldn’t. Those who got married under church law would need damned good reasons to dissolve their marriage.

  17. thefrollickingmole

    Summary in that 2nd link.. like i said treat all stats with suspicion though.

    63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
    90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
    85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Center for Disease Control)
    80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978.)
    71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
    75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source: Rainbows for all God`s Children.)
    70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)
    85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992)

  18. John Mc

    Not wishing to derail this thread, but I should add that people who are pushing state endorsement of same-sex marriage (in the model of traditional marriage) definitely have an alternative and sly agenda. That is to force other people against their will to sanction their homosexual relationships and hold them on equal standing with traditional marriage relationships, which many people don’t want to do. And should be free not to do.

    As it’s perfectly fine to tolerate other people’s choices and respect their right to have a contract upheld by a public court, without giving sanction to those personal choices, there is a solid argument for libertarian opposition to gay marriage (in the model of traditional marriage).

  19. John Mc

    I’m not sure people (generally) really “choose” to live in million dollar dogboxes, both partners working with no kids.

    People don’t choose this rationally. They’ve been culturally conditioned to believe this is “getting ahead”. Twenty years down the track they’re wondering where their life went.

  20. JC

    I’m with Dot.

    Dover, can you explain why you think that if the government got out of recognizing relationships it would be worse?

    Lets keep things in perspective here. Marriage law was basically a adjunct to common law, which I think served us well….. much less state intervention.

    It was the disgusting state, which intervened and turned things upside down in support of the anti-male policies advocated by the feminist witches and Abaddons (Hebrew for female devils).

    Lets keep things in perspective here. Libertarianism isn’t about pushing leftwing positions. It’s about recognizing that actions have consequences.

    Private marriage treaty with proper exist clauses would most likely offer consequences.

    This is not about joining the leftwing bandwagon.

  21. Jarrah

    “Marriage exists in every human society. That says something about its social value.”

    And the lack of necessity for state intervention beyond contract enforcement.

  22. Jim Rose

    these studies are rather old. try The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior by Marianne Bertrand, Jessica Pan
    NBER Working Paper October 2011

    We document large differences in the gender gap across key features of the home environment – boys do especially poorly in broken families.

    …Broken families are associated with worse parental inputs and boys’ non-cognitive development, unlike girls’, appears extremely responsive to such inputs.

  23. C.L.

    The American prison population – overwhelmingly male products of unmarried ‘relationships’ – is the exemplar achievement of leftist social morality.

  24. thefrollickingmole

    Jim Rose

    Thanks, i missed that one. But i have looked at internet available stuff from UK, US, Sweden, Oz, France and Germany.

    None really even attempt to disporove the basic bad numbers, wether pro feminist or pro male.

    There are qubbles over causes, but it should be non-contraversial to point out 2 sets of time/resources are better than one.

    A couple of weird ones which i only saw in a couple of papers.
    Children in state care do better than single parented ones. (which still seems wrong to me)
    And Male children raised in a male single parent family do better than single mother headed ones.

    So theres still plenty of room for controversy.

  25. C.L.

    C.L., the welfare state is over-rated as a source of single motherhood.

    I’m actually saying the exact opposite. It’s not that the welfare state creates single motherhood. It’s that single motherhood creates the welfare state.

  26. thefrollickingmole

    The welafre state is most definately not over-rated as a source of single mums.

    We live in an age of almost wall to wall contraceptive options.
    There has never been a time when there has been more control over fetility.

    Government becomes “daddy” for a significant proportion of single mothers, it provides all.

    Do you think women would be as (some are) silly in partner selection if the downside risk was higher?
    You think the “exciting 30 year old nightclub hound” would look as good as “Johnny Paycheck”, the 9-5 stable bloke?

    Men require civilizing by women. A fair proportion of blokes can get by on a one bedroom flat, video games and porn. Without a reason (family is good) there is only an internal drive to better yourself.
    A big enough breakdown in family, with a corresponding uncivilizing on men will be horrific.

  27. William Bragg

    I don’t like government being able to define marriage, it really belongs in the sphere of the church.

    That may once have been a fair call, Tel. After all, marriage is a form of social regulation – regulation that is often necessary to deal with public good and market failure issues, and which can in theory be undertaken by tribe, church or the state.

    The problem is that the church is driven by its own agendas – basically the conceits and power plays of a bunch of old, white, out-of-touch males – and is not nearly as responsive to modern realities and community needs as the state.

    Fortunately though, with the church – particularly the Catholic Church – now in disgrace and having all the moral authority of a used condom, the influence of church-determined definitions and recognition of marriage will become increasingly irrelevant.

  28. JC

    I’ll keep saying this until I’m blue in the face. Why are the right supporting state sanctioned marriage by wanting to exclude gays. It doesn’t matter!

    They aren’t the problem with marriage and marriage laws. Since the 70′s state intervention has so fucked up marriage that anyone advising young males to marry should be committed the a mental asylum.

    The concept of marriage is so wrecked that it means nothing and is very damaging to men.

  29. .

    After all, marriage is a form of social regulation – regulation that is often necessary to deal with public good and market failure issues, and which can in theory be undertaken by tribe, church or the state.

    Such as?

    The problem is that the church is driven by its own agendas – basically the conceits and power plays of a bunch of old, white, out-of-touch males

    Such as?

    – and is not nearly as responsive to modern realities and community needs as the state.

    This is straight out of Pravda.

    Fortunately though, with the church – particularly the Catholic Church – now in disgrace and having all the moral authority of a used condom, the influence of church-determined definitions and recognition of marriage will become increasingly irrelevant.

    You are a sickening bigot and an intellectual drop kick.

  30. JC

    Braggs

    Seriously shut the fuck up about public good. This is not a discussion for leftwing morons such as yourself coming on to this site and peddling their pathology.

    Fuck off.

  31. .

    The concept of marriage is so wrecked that it means nothing and is very damaging to men.

    It’s a vanity item on facebook for women aged 18-45.

    Sad, but that’s a true story.

  32. thefrollickingmole

    JC

    If it makes you feel any better the reading i did convinced me a child is better off brought up in a same sex family than a single parent one.

    There will be the “weird’ ones who do the whole “we will bring up our kid gender neutral” but they are vanishingly rare.

  33. John A

    Jim Rose, you asserted:

    Calls to revitalise marriage and reduce family fragmentation are one of the areas where the Right-wingers fall for the fatal conceit. The war on drugs is another.

    There is a limit to which we can reshape the world in accordance with our desires!

    But there are some things which are clearly worse than others, and thus government policy needs to avoid the bad and encourage the good, however imperfectly that will work out.

    • Marriage is in decline because rising incomes make having children less appealing and more costly. More part-time work and welfare benefits made it viable for women to have children without having to put-up with a low quality husband.

    These factors impact on family size, not on marriage as an institution. Welfare benefits are making government a substitute for fathers. It’s social engineering, which is in the politico-economic arena as a bad policy, which Dover Beach is challenging.

    If we roll back the bad policy of recognising de facto relationships, family size would not be directly affected, but marriage as an institution would be supported and strengthened.

    • Reliable birth control broke the link between sex and marriage.

    Bulldust. Why do you think there is such a thing as “the oldest profession”?

    Birth control (including abortion, the scourge of the age) broke the link between one’s actions and the consequences, making it easier to avoid accountability for one’s behaviour.

    Then the government adopted welfare policices which supported irresponsibility, rather than responsibility. Again, if we roll back the bad policies, I suggest that there would be a reduction in extra-marital fornication.

    • Lower infant mortality and fewer wars is another factor. To be reasonably sure of ending up with three or four children, mothers use to have to have children non-stop.

    No. Same as your first point. This is about family size, not marriage as such.

    • Raising children is no longer a full-time job. Many household appliances reduced the time need for household production to minutes rather than hours. The time spent on household production has declined drastically, and with it the marriage-specific capital acquired by a wife

    You can’t be serious! Raising children does not equate to the efficiency or otherwise of running the home. Character formation, education and values require that parents be present with their children. It will ALWAYS be a full time job.

    If people sub-contract the job to child-care workers/teachers and peers then we get the present situation – pooled ignorance of social graces, inadequate value systems and impoverished world-views – the nearest thing to a zombie apocalyse known to sociologists.

    Paper fails. Re-submit.

  34. JC

    Moderator..

    Any chance of clearing the deck and throwing Braggs into the water from the back of the boat?

    This leftist dickhead is now attempting to wreck the thread by introducing crap… the usual shit about… da catholic church.

  35. John A

    Gaving Putland, you said:

    In short, it seems to me, as one who believes in God without Roman Catholicism, that the allegedly non-religious argument of Girgis, Anderson and George is simply Roman Catholicism without God.

    Could that actually be what a Reformer would call common grace, applicable to all humanity?

  36. JC

    If it makes you feel any better the reading i did convinced me a child is better off brought up in a same sex family than a single parent one.

    Pound for pound of course they are. I couldn’t imagine how they would be, Mole.

    The problem we have isn’t about two gays raising a kid, which more than likely will be raised in a middle class household.

    The problem is a 16 year old tart getting pregnant every 10 months and expecting the state to take care of her. That’s where the socialist cancer has spread from.

    And even if she isn’t on the dole, she’s expecting the state to help pay to raise her spawn.

  37. John Mc

    It’s a vanity item on facebook for women aged 18-45.

    As the joke goes:

    Q. What’s a wedding?

    A. An orgy of female narcissism!

  38. thefrollickingmole

    JC

    If I was at work i could get the figures off a few centrepay forms and really make your blood boil..

    6 kids, $50,000+ a year (plus subsidies), thats some serious dough to your minimum wage uneducated/unskilled person.

    (I also have a customer with 10 kids)

  39. JC

    6 kids, $50,000+ a year (plus subsidies), thats some serious dough to your minimum wage uneducated/unskilled person.

    (I also have a customer with 10 kids)

    So assume a 50/50 split. That’s three junior criminals ending up in a life of crime or jail and 3 tarts in training being taught how to get pregnant at 15 and fleece the system for the rest of their lives. I’m not being presumptuous in suggesting the slut had those kids to 6 different fathers, right?

    And we have a problem with gays having kids?

    Fme.

  40. thefrollickingmole

    JC

    Dont know about parentage.

    The ten kids has the same bloke for all (I think), but they claim they are seperated for dole reasons.

    And you hit the point, the “think of the Chiiiiillldren” brigade are noticable by their absence on this issue.

    There is a modern “cult of the mother” which, to remove, would really wreck some cherished feminist assumptions.

  41. hzhousewife

    The problem is a 16 year old tart getting pregnant every 10 months and expecting the state to take care of her. That’s where the socialist cancer has spread from.

    And even if she isn’t on the dole, she’s expecting the state to help pay to raise her spawn.

    ahem, what of the 17 yr old ?ickhead, he KNOWS the state will pick up his pieces LOL. Often before the first kid is born, he’ got his second chick (with whom he’s in” LURVE”) up the duff too ! Just see the catfights outside the court on Family Court day !!

  42. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    “It’s a vanity item on facebook for women aged 18-45.”

    and

    “Q. What’s a wedding?

    A. An orgy of female narcissism!”

    Oh so very true. I’m astonished by the ostentatious opulence now demanded by the 20 something poorly educated bimbos.

    To further make a conspicuous mark on society (in the absence of talent or endeavour) they later develop “husband’s job boasting by vehicle” and then “fertility display by 4WD baby pram”.

    I fear there are more who are Lara Single in character than not. Remember her multi million dollar engagement ring down the dunny stunt?

    They know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

  43. .

    There is a modern “cult of the mother” which, to remove, would really wreck some cherished feminist assumptions.

    Hence the pretentiousness of mummybloggers.

    JC

    That is an appropriate use of the word slut. Jarrah would not agree. I do. That’s how I use the word, champ.

  44. William Bragg

    While I’m naturally very sorry for getting under JC’s skin again, I should point out that Tel and others introduced the church vs the state issue, and my comment was in direct response.

    The lessened moral authority of the church has clear ramifications for which of these two institutions should determine/specify marriage. While I think the state is preferable, that is not to say that I agree with the current Howard-era man+woman definition, which as Andrew Norton has often pointed out is just vehicle for bigots to maintain their prejudices. However, in my assessment, the prospects of the state properly recognising gay and other welfare-enhancing forms of marriage are greater than the church doing so.

  45. JC

    ahem, what of the 17 yr old ?ickhead, he KNOWS the state will pick up his pieces LOL. Often before the first kid is born, he’ got his second chick (with whom he’s in” LURVE”) up the duff too ! Just see the catfights outside the court on Family Court day !!

    Housewife

    The 17 year old dickhead doesn’t get pregnant and drop a kid on the taxpayers to look after she does.

    Dot..

    I agree with when the word is appropriate. I don’t use it until these issues come up.

  46. thefrollickingmole

    hzhousewife

    I dont let the blokes off the hook, but if his contribution is going to be about $14 a week from his dole the downside isnt too bad there either.

    With the government paying for your kids there is less reason to be choosy in the person you have a child too. Please note that as a deliberate use of the term CHOOSE TO HAVE THE CHILD. Im not anti-sex, but sex no longer means have babies like it used too. A lady can bang 10 blokes a night for all i care, its none of my business until it costs something.
    Women ultimately control fertility though.
    It might be a game changer when the male pill is released.

  47. .

    However, in my assessment, the prospects of the state properly recognising gay and other welfare-enhancing forms of marriage are greater than the church doing so.

    Or you could stop regulating it and allow people to get married as they wish, just like entering any other contract.

    “Marriage is a regulation”

    Nope dummy, it is regulated.

    Relationships and contracts are not “forms of regulation”.

  48. Tel

    William: The problem is that the church is driven by its own agendas – basically the conceits and power plays of a bunch of old, white, out-of-touch males – and is not nearly as responsive to modern realities and community needs as the state.

    No one is forced with a gun at their head to join a church (not in this country at any rate), so we have to accept that the members approve of the way their church operates (at the very least they think it is better than the alternatives). By the way, if you are talking about the Catholics, they are rapidly absorbing a much broader mix of racial groups than most other churches, although Islam is also highly multi-racial (has been for a long time).

    If you want to be broad minded about it then atheists can join with the humanists or something, because it is still essentially a statement of common personal beliefs and community. That’s why it is better to be in the hands of a voluntary group than in the hands of rule-from-above government departments.

    Jarrah: And the lack of necessity for state intervention beyond contract enforcement.

    When did you last hear a gay marriage advocate not only demanding to be able to make a commitment to his partner (which he can do any time) but also insisting that the real problem here is lack of enforcement, should he ever change his mind? Get real here.

    Marriage is more than a private contract, it is a public announcement, and what the gays want out of it is public acceptance. Thing is, you can’t get acceptance by force of arms, especially if you are a small minority of the population. Much better to use other techniques to encourage acceptance, but no need to bully the people whose beliefs are fundamentally different.

  49. Tel

    The lessened moral authority of the church has clear ramifications for which of these two institutions should determine/specify marriage.

    It does?

    How much moral authority does the State have?

  50. William Bragg

    I do not necessarily disagree, Dot, that the state should not be in the marriage game. My comment was about which of the church and the state is the preferable institution to regulate it, if it is to be regulated. It may be that the social norms of society, along with social approval and/or ostracism are the best regulator (though it is hard to separate these from government regulations and religious dictates).

    You asked earlier about public goods and social regulation. A clean environment is a public good, and social norms such as “it’s wrong to litter” – and religious dictates such as “do unto others…” – are forms of social regulation that are designed to internalise the externalities (eg of littering, in this example) in such cases and thereby contribute to the greater good. Marriage is (or was once) tied up with the raising of children, and let’s face it, having kids and then not looking after them properly imposes substantial costs on others – its a form of market failure because, most obviously, the child is not privy to the decision to be brought into the world, even though it is the entity most effected by that decision. Forms of regulation may be necessary to deal with the initial decision and/or its aftermath.

  51. C.L.

    Hardly anyone is homosexual. Hardly any homosexuals want to pretend to get married. It’s a demographic far smaller than people who collect stamps. The whole thing is a bullshit left-wing non-issue designed to undermine Christianity and trivialise actual marriage.

  52. Jarrah

    Tel, you are conflating legal recognition with personal recognition. Unless you identify personally with government, I don’t see how your contention holds up.

    Of course, the solution for even those confused in this way is to divorce the state from marriage.

    A necessary corollary is changing anti-discrimination laws (which should happen anyway) so that people who don’t think certain types of marriage are proper marriages aren’t punished for their beliefs.

  53. C.L.

    How much moral authority does the State have?

    After the handiwork of atheist icons Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot in the last century – not much.

  54. Tel

    While I think the state is preferable, that is not to say that I agree with the current Howard-era man+woman definition, which as Andrew Norton has often pointed out is just vehicle for bigots to maintain their prejudices.

    All government-mandated culture with a “one size fits all” mentality is a vehicle for bigots. Worse than that it makes it necessary for anyone who wants to maintain their own personal belief system to become a bigot and join the culture wars.

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/government-intervention-breeds-conflict/

  55. William Bragg

    No one is forced with a gun at their head to join a church (not in this country at any rate), so we have to accept that the members approve of the way their church operates (at the very least they think it is better than the alternatives).

    That may be true in a literal sense, Tel, although as Richard Dawkin’s has pointed out, the church is engaged in widespread indoctrination, including of the young before they are cognitively mature enough to see through and resist the church’s propaganda. It is just another form of child abuse by the church.

    You seem to think that being a ‘voluntary organisation’ makes the church morally superior to the state. There are lots of evil organisations – bikie gangs and the mafia as well as the church – that are at first voluntary but which lock members in using various means.

    Put simply, voluntarism is not a sufficient condition for one institution to be morally superior to another. Indeed, voluntarism is often just a means for people to free ride on the good works of others.

  56. .

    (social norms, religious rules) are forms of social regulation that are designed to internalise the externalities

    You are being a mendacious, slippery, definition changing grub and you are damaging the integrity of the discussion, buzz off.

    You are a low information commenter and have nothing to offer anyone.

  57. Tel

    A necessary corollary is changing anti-discrimination laws (which should happen anyway) so that people who don’t think certain types of marriage are proper marriages aren’t punished for their beliefs.

    Well that’s not a bad idea in general. People should always have the absolute right not to associate with anyone and everyone they so choose.

  58. .

    That may be true in a literal sense, Tel, although as Richard Dawkin’s has pointed out, the church is engaged in widespread indoctrination, including of the young before they are cognitively mature enough to see through and resist the church’s propaganda. It is just another form of child abuse by the church.

    You’re a disgusting, hypocritical, moralising bigot in breach of hate speech laws you support.

    You seem to think that being a ‘voluntary organisation’ makes the church morally superior to the state. There are lots of evil organisations – bikie gangs and the mafia as well as the church – that are at first voluntary but which lock members in using various means.

    Put simply, voluntarism is not a sufficient condition for one institution to be morally superior to another. Indeed, voluntarism is often just a means for people to free ride on the good works of others. [People don't free ride when they're coerced? What do you think average worker productivty was like in the Soviet Union? You moron Bragg. You cannot touch a topic without bringing up some irrelevant shit about externalities. Your mind is well and truly addled and atrophied.]

    In fact, you are the most nonsensical worthless human being I’ve encountered.

  59. William Bragg

    You are being a mendacious, slippery, definition changing grub and you are damaging the integrity of the discussion, buzz off. You are a low information commenter and have nothing to offer anyone.

    Yes Dot, I realise that you do not agree with my views and arguments. The real question is whether you have any credible counter-arguments, though.

  60. .

    No, you are conflating private rules with laws.

    You don’t have an argument, only an agenda justified with dishonesty and slack jawed, bucket mouthed bigotry.

  61. .

    The real question is whether you have any credible counter-arguments, though.

    Yes I do. The real, real question is if your ignorance of economic history could be any more hand made to your absurd agenda and biases.

    Basically you choose to be brain dead.

    Free riding was rampant in command economies in the 20th century.

    Your argument is crap, stop derailing the thread, fuck off.

  62. wreckage

    Here’s the thing. Anti-discrimination laws basically screw up the whole debate. Everyone knows that if gay marriage is recognised by the state it will immediately become illegal not to recognise it in any and all circumstances.

    Given that, anyone with any religious sympathies has to object. I’d prefer not to object. And I’d prefer the State to gets its freaking beak out of families in general.

  63. .

    Everyone knows that if gay marriage is recognised by the state it will immediately become illegal not to recognise it in any and all circumstances.

    If that’s true, why can the church reject a couple wanting to be married now on the grounds they don’t go to church?

    That sets a precedent of sorts, besides, gay marriage can be offered by queer ministries and the statutory registrars and civil celebrants.

    I think the conservatives should risk it. The moderation of fundamental Islam is a good thing.

  64. Tel

    … as Richard Dawkin’s has pointed out, the church is engaged in widespread indoctrination …

    If you look closely you will find a lot of groups find indoctrination to be a useful tool, far more than the traditional religious groups. If you wanted to outlaw all forms of indoctrination we would have no media, no education system, very little culture of any sort. We could argue about baptism of children vs baptism of adults if you like but after some thousands of years that argument isn’t settled, so I’m not really up to making a world shattering contribution there.

    Put simply, voluntarism is not a sufficient condition for one institution to be morally superior to another. Indeed, voluntarism is often just a means for people to free ride on the good works of others.

    You are arguing that because voluntarism isn’t perfect, therefore it is unacceptable, and yet you put forward State control as a sensible answer. How someone can “free ride” on the voluntary good work of another is something you will have to explain, unless there was fraud involved somehow.

    You can find a lot of people who were brought up Catholic but changed their minds as adults, so the indoctrination must be a little bit flimsy.

  65. Jim Rose

    thanks John A, everything from the rising value of engagement rings to the decline of shotgun weddings suggests you are wrong.

    Until the 1970s, shotgun marriage was the norm in premarital sexual relations that went awry. Before the 1970s, unmarried mothers kept few of their babies. pregnant teenagers were pariahs.

    The richer woman are, the easier it is support children by herself. Some women may regard a husband as a net cost and prefer to do without one.

  66. Tel

    Everyone knows that if gay marriage is recognised by the state it will immediately become illegal not to recognise it in any and all circumstances.

    Exactly, and it has already been tested in the UK. That could well become a precedent for what happens here, and a backward step for all concerned (gay or otherwise).

    http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2011/01/theres-a-line-in-a-silly-pop-song-i-like-we-are-all-made-of-stars-i-like-to-hold-it-quite-close-to-the-front-of-my-mind-bec.html

  67. William Bragg

    No, you are conflating private rules with laws.

    Sorry Dot, but the first definition of the term ‘regulation’ over at dictionary.com is “a law, rule, or other order prescribed by authority, especially to regulate conduct.” You will note that this does not prescribe the type of authority and thus does not regulation to government-sourced rules and laws.

    Accordingly, I am not ‘conflating’ anything. I simply recognising that religious dictates, government laws and social norms are substitutes (or sometimes potentially complements) for dealing with market failures and other societal problems. You are the one who needs to learn up a bit.

    BTW, its Logic 101 that the view that “free riding was rampant in command economies” in no way invalidates the point I was making, which is that voluntarism is [also, if you like] often a vehicle for free riding.

  68. Rabz

    Everyone knows that if gay marriage is recognised by the state it will immediately become illegal not to recognise it in any and all circumstances.

    Well, duuuuhhhhh!

  69. .

    Yeah that’s nice that you can display onanism, but I cut to the bone: you were trying to justify social regulation on the basis of private rules.

    You also tried to say that private rules internalise private sector externalities, therefore we need more public rules.

    You also tried to say that no free riding occurs in command economies, people free ride of voluntary behaviour (absurd) and that the Catholic church is morally equivalent to the Rock Machine or Comancheros, and thus living under extensive state rules and indoctrination by the state is superior to all other options.

    I simply recognising that religious dictates, government laws and social norms are substitutes (or sometimes potentially complements)

    No, you are not, and you know you are not. You are inferring public law is always better. You dishonest sack of shit.

    You’re nothing more than a bad, uninteresting and transparent party trick.

    You are derailing the thread.

  70. Jazza

    I find my self unable to countenance any change to the marital laws.
    I was horrifies when I read a paper outlining what the freeing up for legal same sex marriages had meant to Massachusetts.
    I would hate to live under such changes.

  71. William Bragg

    You are arguing that because voluntarism isn’t perfect, therefore it is unacceptable, and yet you put forward State control as a sensible answer.

    No, unlike many Libertarians on the Cat, I am not so absolutist. Its horses for courses.

    I was simply responding to your argument (at 3.01) that gave voluntarism, alone, as a reason why the church should be preferred. In my view, there are many criteria to consider when comparing the merits of alternative institutions. My point was that voluntarism does not necessarily make one institution superior to another.

    How someone can “free ride” on the voluntary good work of another is something you will have to explain, unless there was fraud involved somehow.

    Get a blood transfusion from the hospital and you’re free-riding on the good works of others, Tel. Its not that complicated – and the fact that the donor may have know that others would free ride on their good deeds does not change the fact that free riding occurred.

  72. .

    Really rabz?

    Why can’t a Muslim sue the Catholic church for not marrying them and their Muslim fiancée?

    Only Stephen Rares would rule churches MUST marry gays.

    Marrying people carries an element of public office, they are authorised under the Commonwealth.

    I doubt any religious celebrant (state employed registrars make an oath to be impartial) has to marry anyone who comes along. Forcing them to do so against their faith may constitute a religious test to hold office.

  73. Rabz

    FFS, what a depressing thread.

    Since the advent of the shitlam/furphy family (destroying) court, marriage is not an option for any sensible, well off male.

    What I’ve seen some of my friends subjected to in that abominable evidence free kangaroo court literally defies description.

    It’s put me off marriage for good. Too much at stake, most importantly my happiness and wealth and assets. The latter contributes massively to the former.

    And as a rule, I have no time for welfare bludging ‘single mothers’ – they are scum that are are contributing to the destruction of western society at a rate out of all proportion to their numbers.

    If that sounds judgmental, I couldn’t give a shit.

  74. .

    Get a blood transfusion from the hospital and you’re free-riding on the good works of others

    No. I donate blood and I don’t consider the children, accident prone, cancer patients and anaemic people who get my blood to be free riders. Nor the scientists who use it for experiments the time it popped out and was medically compromised.

    Personally, I consider it a duty of mine.

    I consider Michael Tickner, CEO of Red Cross Australia, to be a free riding, hypocritical spiv.

  75. .

    Since the advent of the shitlam/furphy family (destroying) court, marriage is not an option for any sensible, well off male.

    What I’ve seen some of my friends subjected to in that abominable evidence free kangaroo court literally defies description.

    Agreed. I have a friend who is only just 30 and he’s scarred from the CSA. He’s lucky he didn’t get married. he would have – he did everything right by “her” – extra cash to help her out, bought her a very decent vehicle, extra money for the offspring…and then she got greedy.

    And as a rule, I have no time for welfare bludging ‘single mothers’ – they are scum that are are contributing to the destruction of western society at a rate out of all proportion to their numbers.

    Generally a good rule. Work at the coalface for a little while and see them declare themselves as pensioners – no love, you haven’t paid a lifetime of tax nor have you served the Commonwealth in WWII etc.

    There, William Bragg, is a horde of free riders.

  76. .

    I consider Michael Tickner, CEO of Red Cross Australia, to be a free riding, hypocritical spiv.

    He’s also an ex ALP MHR and Minister for Aborigines who did nothing for them plight other than got Keating to talk some shit.

    What a spiv.

  77. Jarrah

    “I was horrifies when I read a paper outlining what the freeing up for legal same sex marriages had meant to Massachusetts.”

    What did it do?

  78. Tel

    Get a blood transfusion from the hospital and you’re free-riding on the good works of others

    You are seriously telling me there are people who donate blood but don’t expect anyone to use it? Sorry, but that’s just nuts.

  79. Infidel Tiger

    No. I donate blood and I don’t consider the children, accident prone, cancer patients and anaemic people who get my blood to be free riders. Nor the scientists who use it for experiments the time it popped out and was medically compromised.

    Giving blood has tremendous health benefits for the giver. The fact that your unwanted blood may be used by someone else is a happy accident.

  80. JC

    Get a blood transfusion from the hospital and you’re free-riding on the good works of others,

    No you aren’t.

    Braggs, seriously fuck off.

    No one here is interested in a leftwing view. Your ideology caused these problemss, you turnip.

    Get lost.

    And no you don’t get under my skin. Don’t flatter yourself.

    Moron.

  81. William Bragg

    And no you don’t get under my skin.

    LOL

    You are seriously telling me there are people who donate blood but don’t expect anyone to use it? Sorry, but that’s just nuts.

    No Tel, if you reread my comment, you will see that in fact I explicitly acknowledged that people given blood may well be aware that free-riding would occur. That does not mean that it is not free-riding, however. In standard economics, free riding causes less of an item to be supplied than would otherwise be the case, but it does not mean that none will be supplied; nor does the fact that the scope for free riding is know ahead of time mean that there is no inequity involved.

  82. .

    We do not have an “under provision of blood” in Australia.

    There are inventory management issues but these are periodic and predictable and have never eventuated in calamity.

    Stop talking shit Bragg.

  83. JC

    LOL

    As I said don’t flatter yourself, you twat.

  84. Jarrah

    “That does not mean that it is not free-riding, however.”

    I don’t think you can classify the gift of blood to strangers as a public good, which can then suffer from free-riding.

  85. 2dogs

    I am inclined to Tel’s view, but should point out that in ages past, the churches also ran the welfare system. This meant they bore the consequences of the rules they made; if a church adopts rules that result in single parents, it ends up paying for their upkeep.

    If welfare and social policy autonomy were adopted in this way, competition might find the best set of rules.

  86. Gavin R Putland

    John A asks:

    Could that [Roman Catholicism without God?] actually be what a Reformer would call common grace, applicable to all humanity?

    Not when it’s invented by Roman Catholic apologists for the purpose of defending a doctrine rejected not only by the Reformers (at least since they discovered that it couldn’t be verified from Scripture) but also by most otherwise loyal Roman Catholics.

    Common grace sounds more like “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” Applied universally, this maxim implies that we are entitled to precisely as much liberty as we can claim without encroaching on the equal liberty of others — a proposition that allegedly enjoys some support around here.

  87. JC

    Allegedly?

    Gavin, are you drinking alice’s secret stash?

  88. Infidel Tiger

    You are seriously telling me there are people who donate blood but don’t expect anyone to use it? Sorry, but that’s just nuts.

    There are huge benefits to blood letting. It should form a good part of any well rounded health regime.

  89. candy

    It’s a cold callous world when someone breaks it up into free riders and non-free riders in terms of donation of blood or other good works.

  90. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Men require civilizing by women. A fair proportion of blokes can get by on a one bedroom flat, video games and porn. Without a reason (family is good) there is only an internal drive to better yourself.
    A big enough breakdown in family, with a corresponding uncivilizing on men will be horrific.

    Possibly a bit harsh on men. :)

    However, the general point stands. Familial relationships (parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins) contain a lot of emotional glue, and no society yet has managed to extinguish them successfully.

  91. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    “Familial relationships (parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins) contain …”

    There is family Elizabeth and everyone else is a stranger. It takes continuous effort – and authority – to get the thing ticking properly but when it is there is nothing better.

  92. Monkey's Uncle

    “C.L., the welfare state is over-rated as a source of single motherhood. There were plenty of widows with children after the world wars.”

    Yes JIm. Because the fact that in some times and places women were forced to raise families on their own because their men had all been killed off, is somehow relevant to the fact that in other times and places women chose to become single parents due to changed incentives and social norms even without men being killed off! The experience of widows in the immediate post-war period somehow negates the role of incentives in the growth of single parent households from the 1970s onwards!

    I take it you are filling in for Hammy this evening in the light comedy routine.

  93. Steve of Ferny Hills

    Get a blood transfusion from the hospital and you’re free-riding on the good works of others

    Yes that’s true. The ‘others’ being taxpayers funding Medicare and government funding to the Red Cross.

  94. Steve of Ferny Hills

    That is if you are not a lifetime net taxpayer yourself.

  95. TerjeP

    two views of marriage, conjugal and revisionist

    Whilst I knew it had something to do with marriage I wasn’t too clear on the precise meaning of the word “conjugal” so I looked it up. The definition I found was “of or relating to marriage”. As such I’m a bit perplexed by what the distinction is between the two views of marriage. Perhaps it was explained in the video but I have not been able to watch it for technical reasons. Can somebody explain the distinction. How is the conjugal view different from the revisionist view?

  96. Tel

    … you will see that in fact I explicitly acknowledged that people given blood may well be aware that free-riding would occur.

    For those people who choose to give blood in full knowledge, there is no free riding because they did what they wanted to do and they got the outcome they expected. Thus 100% of the people who “get a blood transfusion from the hospital” are in fact getting what someone else willingly gave them.

    In standard economics, free riding causes less of an item to be supplied than would otherwise be the case, but it does not mean that none will be supplied;

    You are saying that there are people who do not give blood, but might do if these so called “free riders” could be eliminated. Does “standard economics” provide a method to count these people? How many do you think there are? How should we go about reassuring them?

    … nor does the fact that the scope for free riding is know ahead of time mean that there is no inequity involved.

    Ahhh “inequity” now. What is the “standard economics” definition of “inequity” than?

  97. Alice

    JC says

    Allegedly?

    Gavin, are you drinking alice’s secret stash?”

    You could do with some of my secret stash you old hardarse JC ( except when it comes to wifey in which case you are a pussycat LOL. You dont fool me. Its all show).

  98. Alice

    Dot says

    I consider Michael Tickner, CEO of Red Cross Australia, to be a free riding, hypocritical spiv.

    He’s also an ex ALP MHR and Minister for Aborigines who did nothing for them plight other than got Keating to talk some shit.

    What a spiv.

    You know what – Ill add to that. Red Cross also lease a very damn expensive building in town to run their so called charitable organisation with great views over Wynyard Park and an army of paid people…

    They dont need that wanker expensive piece of real estate and they wont be getting my donations again.

  99. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    You call me Elizabeth in the nicest possible way, Mick, so’s it doesn’t sound like I’m in some sort of trouble. Da Hairy Ape manages it too when he calls me Katie Elizabeth (after Kathleen, my second name, my grandmother’s), ‘cept he puts it first and that sort of tones down the Elizabeth bit, because he gets the Irish into it then and I also think it is a little bit like Scarlett O’Hara being Katie Scarlett to her Pa in Gone With The Wind. But I think I like being called mavourneen best of all.

  100. John A

    Gavin, you said:

    “Common grace sounds more like “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” Applied universally, this maxim implies that we are entitled to precisely as much liberty as we can claim without encroaching on the equal liberty of others — a proposition that allegedly enjoys some support around here.”

    Sorry but that’s not common grace at all, in Reformed theology.

    Common grace is “God sends His rain on the just and the unjust equally.” It’s those providential aspects of life which are independent of one’s specific belief in God.

    I think marriage is probably in this category.

  101. Monkey's Uncle

    “Calls to revitalise marriage and reduce family fragmentation are one of the areas where the Right-wingers fall for the fatal conceit. The war on drugs is another.

    There is a limit to which we can reshape the world in accordance with our desires!” – Jim Rose

    Yeah, because hardly anyone would desire to have a stable family, children, and build a life with someone they love if it wasn’t for those damn moral busybodies and social engineers ramming their views down everyone’s throat and trying to pressure them into it! I wish the government would quit running those damn ads promoting marriage and warning about all the social pathologies caused by family breakdown, single parenthood etc. People are really tired of the likes of Nicola Roxon and her rampant nanny statism!

    The reality is pretty much the opposite of how you tell it. It is largely misguided social engineering and public policy that has undermined marriage, rather than marriage being preserved through social engineering and government policy. Therefore, most of what is needed is to simply wind back the harmful policies rather than to implement significant pro-marriage social engineering.

    I agree that the war on drugs is morally bankrupt. But it is quite silly to put efforts to preserve the traditional family in the same category, as if somehow there is an equivalence between the state criminalising the consumption of certain substances with simply recognising the benefits to society of stable families in the raising of children. You want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and suggest that every socially conservative meme is as bankrupt as drug prohibition.

  102. Monkey's Uncle

    “Do you think women would be as (some are) silly in partner selection if the downside risk was higher?
    You think the “exciting 30 year old nightclub hound” would look as good as “Johnny Paycheck”, the 9-5 stable bloke?”

    Exactly. And the more that women are liberated from any need to rely on men financially, the more likely they are to choose the bad boys and cads over the boring, stable providers.

    Nowadays the downside risk of poor partner selection and casual sex are fairly comprehensively insured for women. Abortion is safe and legally available, contraception ditto, single parenthood is more socially tolerated and significantly subsidised, there is more enforcement of child support, divorce is common and more socially acceptable, child custody and divorce settlements tend to favour women, there are tougher laws on domestic violence etc. etc.

    Such changes are bound to create a certain amount of “moral hazard”, in that the more that individuals are insured against the effects of their own poor choices the less likely they are to avoid making those poor choices.

  103. Gavin R Putland

    John A wrote:

    Common grace is “God sends His rain on the just and the unjust equally.”

    Then I must have looked pretty silly to John A, because I was trying to interpret “grace” as in “sola gratia“, and silently noticing that not all Reformers would have regarded such grace as “common” — especially if “Reformed” means Calvinist. :P

  104. dover_beach

    Dover – isn’t this just another ‘activity x (that we don’t like) costs society eleventy zillions dollars and that’s good enough reason to prohibit it’ argument?

    Do they have a counter-factual – enforced marriage costs more or less than family fragmentation? In any event most of these costs are likely to be private costs.

    It is not clear to me that people choosing to live their own lives is zero-cost.

    Sinc, no, firstly, no one is prohibiting anything. We need to distinguish between what is permissible and what is desirable. Nothing is prohibiting a man and woman, or two men, from cohabitating. However, a law which recognizes these arrangements as marriages indicates that these are socially desirable arrangements, and as desirable as conjugal marriage. Secondly, no one is enforcing marriage. They and I are not arguing that we need to enforce marriage. The argument is that marriage is the most economically and socially desirable arrangement for the care and education of children. The state takes an interest in marriage because it is a transaction between the generations. Marriage and children are not merely privately valuable, they are socially valuable, because marriages are the most efficient and efficacious means of raising and morally educating the next generation. What changes to laws and mores have arguably done over the last 40 to 50 years is ameliorated the economic and social costs of these other arrangements and shifted them from the private sphere to the public sphere because the state cannot ignore the health and well-being of the next generation. Now, the proportion of these costs may indeed be still largely private, but given the size of the public costs, does it really matter? And, anyway, I tend to think that the public costs are related to the private costs exponentially.

    I don’t understand your logic, dover_beach. The family fragmentation cost cited is with the current system in place, ie with government heavily involved in marriage!

    Jarrah, that would be because you’ve misunderstood it. The point of the argument is not that the government must be heavily involved in marriage. It simply involves recognizing the conjugal view and the obligations that are entailed in it (something that could be achieved by statute or common law). The heavy involvement you see now is a consequence of a consistent departure from the conjugal view exhibited by support for no-fault divorce, cohabitation, single parenthood, and so on.

    Are you suggesting that, if marriage was privatised, family fragmentation would increase? If that is your argument, what mechanisms do you think would bring that about?

    It is increasing. Family fragmentation occurs more readily in cohabitation than in marriage. It also occurs increasingly in marriages because we have a no-fault regime, which also makes people less judicious in their choices of who to marry.

    As far as I can establish from the reviews, the argument of Girgis, Anderson and George is the same “total union” argument by which Roman Catholic apologists

    Gavin, firstly, I would read what they say rather than just read reviews, or just watch the video. The conjugal view of marriage is not unique to Catholicism, many Protestants, Orthodox Jews and Muslims also agree with it. And it is itself a part of our Western legal and social traditions as well. This isn’t a sectarian issue.

    I’m with Dot.

    Dover, can you explain why you think that if the government got out of recognizing relationships it would be worse?

    dot/ JC, marriage is not a private institution like friendship. You cannot privatize marriage. If you are promoting the privatization of marriage, you are promoting cohabitation and the dissolution of marriage. And since when was the judicial branch not part of the state?

    As such I’m a bit perplexed by what the distinction is between the two views of marriage.

    Terje, Ryan Anderson in a series of articles at Ricochet defined it as:

    As we argue there, marriage is a uniquely comprehensive union. It involves a union of hearts and minds; but also—and distinctively—a bodily union made possible by sexual complementarity. As the act by which spouses make marital love also makes new life, so marriage itself is inherently extended and enriched by family life and calls for similarly all-encompassing commitment: permanent and exclusive. In short, marriage unites a man and woman holistically—emotionally and bodily, in acts of conjugal love and in the children such love brings forth—for the whole of life.

    The revisionist view denies that it is a bodily union, seeing it only as an emotional union. But, as they are argue, if it is not also a bodily union, then the other aspects with which we associate marriage – exclusivity and permanence – no longer make sense.

  105. dover_beach

    Gavin, sorry, forgot to add that the great majority of Orthodox Christians would also accept the conjugal view of marriage, and in the general manner which Girgis, Anderson, and George argue in their new book.

  106. John A

    Gavin, you said:

    Then I must have looked pretty silly to John A, because I was trying to interpret “grace” as in “sola gratia“, and silently noticing that not all Reformers would have regarded such grace as “common” — especially if “Reformed” means Calvinist. :P

    so, to quote Pish Tush from Mikado:
    You did!

    Sola Gratia = By Grace Alone is the special grace of salvation, and you are correct, I don’t think any Reformer would regard such grace as common.
    :-)

  107. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    DB, thanks for your initial post and your politely argued (as always) response above to some key comments in the thread. Like many other happily* married people, I’m with you, experientially as well as traditionally – marriage is heart, mind and body. Plus, any society (whatever its polity) has to be concerned with the associated inter-generational issues to do with children and child-rearing.

    * second go for me, but the point is that one comes back to marriage, led by desire and hope.

  108. .

    dot/ JC, marriage is not a private institution like friendship. You cannot privatize marriage. If you are promoting the privatization of marriage, you are promoting cohabitation and the dissolution of marriage. And since when was the judicial branch not part of the state?

    Yes you can and it has been done before.

    If you think contract enforcement makes something a state institution, then nothing is privately owned.

    You know this is obviously false.

    Ditto – a common law marriage. The husband and wife are just subject to rights found by custom.

    The states passing de facto laws in the 1980s and 1990s just codified this for everyone.

  109. mundi

    people are also forgetting that the welfare system encourages people to never officially marry in the first place, check out the rates of births were the mother refuses to name the father (then has him move in as a house mate – so she can get parent pension as a single and he can get new start), where as a married couple would be hundreds of dollars worse off.

    Do you really think 75% of black men in the usa life by themselves? of course not. the gaming of the system is standard practice over their. everyone knows that you have to be a single mum to get the $$$.

  110. Rococo Liberal

    CL, every time I worry about your abstruse musical taste and incipient Anglophobia, you restore my faith by coming out with gems like this:

    The denialism re the massive statist cost of 1960s ‘progressivism,’ casual divorce, plummeting birth rates, single ‘families,’ family welfarism etc is now just silly. The project of marrying (if you will) subjectivist nihilism (or social ‘liberalism’ in American terms) to small government has failed spectacularly.

    It’s time to call social liberals what they are: lefties.

    This needs to be repeated again and and again.

    Four cheers!

  111. Jarrah

    “Jarrah, that would be because you’ve misunderstood it.”

    Your opinion that removing government from marriage was only superficially appealing was followed by evidence… that didn’t show that. That’s why I said the logic of your argument didn’t make sense.

    Now that you’ve clarified that the real issue is in fact the drift away from your ideal form of marriage and family laws, I can see why you’d cite the Institute for American Values, but not why you’d write the first two sentences of your post.

    “Family fragmentation occurs more readily in cohabitation than in marriage. It also occurs increasingly in marriages because we have a no-fault regime, which also makes people less judicious in their choices of who to marry.”

    In all that, there’s still no linkage with marriage privatisation. Finally we get to:

    “If you are promoting the privatization of marriage, you are promoting cohabitation and the dissolution of marriage.”

    Letting people write their own marriage contracts with whomever they wish will lead to diversification in marriage types. Instead of the one-size-fits-all model, which in its current government-mandated form you have found significant flaws, people could have fault-divorce and the like.

    It certainly won’t lead to the dissolution of marriage.

  112. .

    I agree that the war on drugs is morally bankrupt. But it is quite silly to put efforts to preserve the traditional family in the same category, as if somehow there is an equivalence between the state criminalising the consumption of certain substances with simply recognising the benefits to society of stable families in the raising of children. You want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and suggest that every socially conservative meme is as bankrupt as drug prohibition.

    Privatising marriage doesn’t attack traditional marriage, it allows it compete with relationships that are already recognised in other ways. It also allows for religious freedom – it allows a Catholic to be married under canon law, subject to contract law.

    Do this and cut the spigot off and you may see people choosing conservatism and traditionalism.

  113. Jarrah

    Let me put it a different way, dover_beach.

    Recently, many marriage celebrants were conducting their ceremonies incorrectly in small ways. Unbeknownst to the couples (and to their families, to their communities), they technically weren’t married in the eyes of the law. They were merely ‘cohabiting’, as you put it.

    Do you think they felt that they weren’t, to all intents and purposes, married? Do you think it changed their relationship in any way whatsoever?

  114. Rococo Liberal

    The war on murder must also be morally bankrupt, because murders are still committed no matter how many times the police capture and the courts incarcerate murderers.

  115. .

    If you think that corresponds to the arguments against the war on drugs, you are very mistaken.

  116. dover_beach

    Yes you can and it has been done before.

    If you think contract enforcement makes something a state institution, then nothing is privately owned.

    You know this is obviously false.

    dot, no. Marriage is a public institution recognized at one level by the common law (part of the juridical state) and at another by statute (part of the legislative state). And at each level, the courts accepted marriage in its pre-political form, while the legislature accepted marriage in its juridical form. If marriage was private, it would be like friendship, and friendships are not governed by contract, common law or statutory. This answers what follows in your comment above about common law marriages.

    Jarrah, I wrote a short post where the bulk of the argument was made within the video linked to at the end. So my remarks that appear at the beginning are an introduction, not the argument in its entirety. I thought that was clear by the shortness of my post. But, anyway, the ideal of marriage is actually marriage, just as an ideal triangle is actually a triangle and vice versa; lacking those aspects mentioned it would become something other than marriage or a triangle.

    Letting people write their own marriage contracts with whomever they wish will lead to diversification in marriage types.

    No, it won’t. Firstly, if people can write their own marriage contracts, what difference would their be between a contract and a marriage contract? None at all. Secondly, it isn’t one-size-fits-all; there would be marriage, and there would be other types of arrangements that may or may not be contractual or have the form of marriage, that people would be free to enter into or not. And, thirdly, marriage as a union indistinguishable from other relationships would be the dissolution of marriage. That is clearly intimated by the varieties of relationship that are mentioned as requiring recognition in the Beyond Marriage project.

    RL, yes, that comment by CL really deserves four cheers, and to be immortalized as a liberty quote.

  117. .

    Marriage and other custom have been co-opted by the state, not the other way around.

    If marriage was private, it would be like friendship, and friendships are not governed by contract, common law or statutory. This answers what follows in your comment above about common law marriages.

    This is simply false. Private marriage would be a contractual matter for the parties, just as common law marriages formed constructive trusts.

  118. dover_beach

    Do you think they felt that they weren’t, to all intents and purposes, married? Do you think it changed their relationship in any way whatsoever?

    They would, so far as I understand it, be considered common law marriages. They are marriages to the extent that they publicly exhibited the forms of marriage and were recognized to as such.

  119. dover_beach

    Marriage and other custom have been co-opted by the state, not the other way around.

    dot, who has argued otherwise?

    This is simply false. Private marriage would be a contractual matter for the parties, just as common law marriages formed constructive trusts.

    I don’t see anything ‘private’ here. The parties to this matter would have to satisfy certain forms in order to considered involved in a ‘private’ marriage by the courts, a public/ civil institution. So, my analogy stands, if you want to privatize marriage, it would not be a relationship regulated by common or statutory law. Period. Just like friendship.

  120. Pedro

    “The denialism re the massive statist cost of 1960s ‘progressivism,’ casual divorce, plummeting birth rates, single ‘families,’ family welfarism etc is now just silly. The project of marrying (if you will) subjectivist nihilism (or social ‘liberalism’ in American terms) to small government has failed spectacularly.

    It’s time to call social liberals what they are: lefties.”

    That’s only true if you define the Right as conservatives only. I’m neither a lefty or a conservative and I prefer a world in which single mums get to keep their kids, unhappy spouses can bail out, contraception is easy, cheap and widely available, the priest is not a powerful person and I could decide not to have a 4th child without having to stop having sex.

    Unlike dopey conservatives, I believe what we have is very largely the result of the various things people want, and not some lefty plot.

    The right-left label is irrelevant and the question is whether the pre-60s social world (in our first world countries) is better than the current social structure. I guess it’s a pity we don’t have time machines so you can head back there and be happy.

  121. Pedro

    “RL, yes, that comment by CL really deserves four cheers, and to be immortalized as a liberty quote.”

    So we define liberty by rejecting various person freedoms and returning to the 50′s social structure?

  122. Infidel Tiger

    I prefer a world in which single mums get to keep their kids, unhappy spouses can bail out,

    A world without responsibility where someone else picks up the tab for your actions.

  123. C.L.

    People were much freer in the 50s than they are now.

    The idea that they weren’t because two men and a cocker spaniel couldn’t be a ‘family’ is just left-wing childishness.

  124. Monkey's Uncle

    “The war on murder must also be morally bankrupt, because murders are still committed no matter how many times the police capture and the courts incarcerate murderers.”

    Right. Because there is no appreciable difference between the state criminalising the taking of human life with the state criminalising the trade and consumption of certain substances among consenting adults. Thanks for illustrating the point that supporters of the war on drugs are intellectually challenged.

    One of the issues is whether or not a given law generates more harm or good. The law against murder is of net benefit to society as it discourages some murders, even though it does not eliminate murder completely. The issue with drug prohibition is whether the costs imposed on society (such as increased profits to organised crime, law enforcement corruption, no quality control, diverting police resources away from dealing with other crimes like theft, murder etc.) are worth the marginal benefit to society of discouraging some individuals from taking potentially harmful substances by keeping them illegal. I would contend the costs outweigh the benefits. But moreover, the burden of proof should fall on those who wish to restrict personal freedom to prove the benefits.

    Those of us who argue the war on drugs has been a failure do not say so simply because prohibition has not been 100% effective in eliminating illicit drugs. This is a silly straw man. Of course, no law is ever 100% effective in eliminating that which it targets or prohibits. We argue that it has been a failure as the costs outweigh the benefits, and the law is only of very limited benefit in discouraging the use of harmful drugs.

  125. Pedro

    Now to Dover’s basic proposition, it might be true that widening marriage will increase the cost to the state and thus result in a larger state in financial terms. But Leviathan should be defined in more than financial terms. Also, if you want to attack the size of the welfare state, limiting marriage to a man and a woman is a pretty small start.

  126. Pedro

    “A world without responsibility where someone else picks up the tab for your actions.”

    Where did I argue for the welfare state?

    “People were much freer in the 50s than they are now.”

    Even if we credit that assertion in general terms, it is clearly not the case that people in the 50s were more free in terms of sexuality and social relations of the type being discussed. You don’t make people more free by restricting divorce, limiting contraception, prohibiting buggery and coercing adoptions.

  127. .

    Also, if you want to attack the size of the welfare state, limiting marriage to a man and a woman is a pretty small start.

    Actually, you’d ban marriage…and probably reproduction.

    I don’t see anything ‘private’ here. The parties to this matter would have to satisfy certain forms in order to considered involved in a ‘private’ marriage by the courts, a public/ civil institution. So, my analogy stands, if you want to privatize marriage, it would not be a relationship regulated by common or statutory law. Period. Just like friendship.

    Nonsense. Then by virtue of engaging in commerce outside of a lawless country, we’re practising state socialism/Communism.

    Now to Dover’s basic proposition, it might be true that widening marriage will increase the cost to the state and thus result in a larger state in financial terms.

    No it won’t. State law already deals with family law outside of marriages and child support.

  128. Pedro

    “Actually, you’d ban marriage…and probably reproduction”

    What do you think is the bigger political challenge, cancelling the dole or banning fucking? Frankly, I think there’d be more squealling about the dole!

  129. dover_beach

    That’s only true if you define the Right as conservatives only. I’m neither a lefty or a conservative and I prefer a world in which single mums get to keep their kids, unhappy spouses can bail out, contraception is easy, cheap and widely available, the priest is not a powerful person and I could decide not to have a 4th child without having to stop having sex.

    Unlike dopey conservatives, I believe what we have is very largely the result of the various things people want, and not some lefty plot.

    Sorry, Pedro, but no one is proposing – apart from dopey liberals it appears – child removal for single mothers, or that the availability of divorce should be removed without qualification, or that contraception should be illegal, thus you need not worry about the possibility of a 4th child.

    So we define liberty by rejecting various person freedoms and returning to the 50′s social structure?

    I suppose, if you fail to appreciate a difference between what is permissible and what is desirable you will continue to make this mistake.

    Now to Dover’s basic proposition, it might be true that widening marriage will increase the cost to the state and thus result in a larger state in financial terms. But Leviathan should be defined in more than financial terms. Also, if you want to attack the size of the welfare state, limiting marriage to a man and a woman is a pretty small start.

    Exactly. That is why Leviathan should recognize marriage only to the extent that it has an interest in the institution. The state’s interest in marriage is as the most desirable arrangement for the care and moral education of children. There is no state interest in personal relationships that do not involve a man and women in the marital state. Thus the state has no interest in minimally regulating homosexual relationships in just the same way it has no interest minimally regulating friendships. Given that the state has an interest in marriage, it should do nothing more than enacting a limited set of rights and duties that make it desirable for men and women as well as protecting the interests of children – and thus the state’s interest – but no more.

    Nonsense. Then by virtue of engaging in commerce outside of a lawless country, we’re practising state socialism/Communism.

    dot, I don’t even know what you mean there. But, look, given that you thought, before I persuaded you otherwise, that outlawry was consistent with the rule of law, I would have thought a little more caution was in order.

    No it won’t. State law already deals with family law outside of marriages and child support.

    Why are you under the impression that they or I are arguing for the status quo? We’re not. Current common and statutory law is a mess in this regard already. Our point is that the proposed change is both a symptom of this malaise and and will worsen the condition.

  130. Pedro

    Dover, I was was responding to CL’s comment to which you gave 4 cheers. I get the feeling that CL really would like a return to the GOD he’s heard so much about.

    “Exactly. That is why Leviathan should recognize marriage only to the extent that it has an interest in the institution.”

    It may be that the state has no interest in gay marriage, but once a state institution is created, the form of that institution has the potential to be liberty-restricting. The pro case is that if the state is going to recognise marriage at all then it has no business discriminating in favour of hetros.

    Perhaps I’m wrong, but from our various debates I have the sense that you are against gay marriage largely for religious reasons. Fine if true, but that is irrelevant to the secular state. Your proposition in this post is that limiting a particular state institution to a class of couples is liberty enhancing. I don’t think that case is made on financial grounds and you can’t make it on any other rational grounds.

  131. Sinclair Davidson

    if you want to attack the size of the welfare state, limiting marriage to a man and a woman is a pretty small start.

    Yep – there goes the argument first posited in the original post.

  132. .

    Nonsense. Then by virtue of engaging in commerce outside of a lawless country, we’re practising state socialism/Communism.

    dot, I don’t even know what you mean there.

    If you don’t know what I mean then how they hell can you understand your own argument that engaging in contracts, enforceable by the courts, is a form of public regulation?

    Why are you under the impression that they or I are arguing for the status quo? We’re not. Current common and statutory law is a mess in this regard already. Our point is that the proposed change is both a symptom of this malaise and and will worsen the condition.

    So you’re gonna repeal the common law regarding de facto relationships? Good luck. Try making the courts get rid of constructive trusts.

  133. C.L.

    … if you want to attack the size of the welfare state, limiting marriage to a man and a woman is a pretty small start.

    Limiting.

    LOL.

    So tell us, Pedro (or any other faux libertarian social lefty): why shouldn’t a man marry a beagle if that’s what he wants?

    GO!

  134. .

    Tell me what the problem is when welfare doesn’t have special cases?

  135. dover_beach

    It may be that the state has no interest in gay marriage, but once a state institution is created, the form of that institution has the potential to be liberty-restricting. The pro case is that if the state is going to recognise marriage at all then it has no business discriminating in favour of hetros.

    Yes, but given that the state interest in this institution is children, the form and purpose of this institution cannot in any way be liberty-restricting for relationships that in and of themselves never produce children. So there can be no claim of unjust discrimination made. This would be like me saying that the Julliard School discriminates against me simply because I cannot dance; it does and it has reason to.

    Perhaps I’m wrong, but from our various debates I have the sense that you are against gay marriage largely for religious reasons. Fine if true, but that is irrelevant to the secular state.

    Honestly, I don’t know why here in Anglophone countries the default view is that opposition to gay marriage can only be as a result of religion. My opposition to begin with was purely secular and it has remained purely secular ever since.

    Your proposition in this post is that limiting a particular state institution to a class of couples is liberty enhancing.

    No, my argument and that of the co-authors has been that marriage is an institution available only to men and women whether or not the state recognizes it; that is why it is a pre-political institution. And that the principal state interest in marriage is not to enhance the liberty of the couple, but protect the rights of children and society.

    I don’t think that case is made on financial grounds and you can’t make it on any other rational grounds.

    I’ve pointed to the financial case, but its hard to guess the level of the burden you want this case to meet. They and I have already made the case out on other rational grounds. If marriage isn’t a relationship involving a man and woman, then exclusivity and permanence also do not make sense, and thus you can have no rational grounds to not recognize relationships between friends as marriages, or polygamous marriages, or group marriages, or temporary (fixed-term) marriages, and so on. Certainly, the criteria – liberty-enhancing or restrict – you’ve proposed cannot do this.

  136. Sinclair Davidson

    Beagles can’t enter into lawful contracts, nor can any other non-human life form or inanimate object for that matter.

  137. C.L.

    Yes, they can. You just pass a law that says they can.

    Same with homosexual ‘marriage.’ It’s just a law saying something absurd is now permissible because about 8 people in the country are agitating for it.

  138. Sinclair Davidson

    Yes, they can. You just pass a law that says they can.

    FFS.

    Parliament can pass any law that it likes, and yet we find that many laws – like you can marry your beagle, or your own right hand – just don’t make the cut.

  139. C.L.

    No, not invalid at all.

    The parliament can just pass a law saying beagles’ consent is presumed by their continued domicile with their proposed spouses.

    Completely absurd – like saying a man can ‘marry’ another man.

    A majority of Australians Support Marriage Equality.

    As per the Appleby principle, I could draft a poll question to get the opposite result with complete ease. But a poll result isn’t very convincing given that majorities are always recorded for statism and welfarism in this country.

  140. dover_beach

    Yep – there goes the argument first posited in the original post.

    Sinc, firstly, I’m surprised that you wouldn’t avail yourself of every small step in the right direction in the cause of limiting government and shrinking welfare state. At the moment, beggars can’t be choosers. The more surprising this is since it involves nothing more than leaving well enough alone. Secondly, moreover, thinking of this simply in terms of being about gay ‘marriage’ is too narrow anyway. The defense uses this current debate as a instrument of reviving, more importantly, a marriage culture.

    If you don’t know what I mean then how they hell can you understand your own argument that engaging in contracts, enforceable by the courts, is a form of public regulation?

    dot, because it involves the courts; they’re not private institutions. Honestly. Just because the literature involves the misleading distinction, private (common) and public (statutory ad administrative) law, doesn’t mean that private law isn’t a public institution.

  141. Sinclair Davidson

    Dover – at best you’ve got an argument banning divorce. Conversely if the state has such an interest in children an argument banning abortion. But gay marriage … not so much. To be quite blunt I would prefer state institutions to stay well away from my children.

  142. dover_beach

    No, the argument would not ban divorce but only no-fault divorce. Gay marriage is not banned, it is simply not recognized as marriage because it isn’t. Nothing would make committed gay relationships illegal. And so far as you wanting state institutions to stay well away from children, we are in complete agreement. That is why libertarians must support a marriage culture. But what do we see now with more than a generation of policies inimical to a marriage culture? Not declining direct state involvement in the raising of children, but an ever growing child-support system, increasing welfare payments to single parents, rising delinquency and an apparatus to deal with that, an every expanding family law system, and so on; in other words, an ever-expanding apparatus of power that governs the raising of children. At what stage of this process will libertarians recognize that this is a busted flush?

  143. John Mc

    Government doesn’t create the ability to do contracts. People create government so they can have their contracts enforced in a way that is (theoretically) cost-effective, transparent, fair, mutually agreeable and morally sound.

  144. John Mc

    That is why libertarians must support a marriage culture.

    Libertarians support a marriage culture. They just don’t support additional marriage laws.

  145. .

    dot, because it involves the courts; they’re not private institutions.

    So does contract enforcement of commercial contracts.

    FFS.

  146. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Perhaps I’m wrong, but from our various debates I have the sense that you are against gay marriage largely for religious reasons. Fine if true, but that is irrelevant to the secular state. Your proposition in this post is that limiting a particular state institution to a class of couples is liberty enhancing. I don’t think that case is made on financial grounds and you can’t make it on any other rational grounds.

    DB has answered this himself.

    Think again though, Pedro. Plenty of non-religious people (like me, for instance) don’t agree with ‘gay’ marriage, and entirely for reasons to do with the institutionalised and widespread role of marriage in offering children security in their biological heritage and for offering children perspectives on biological gender that are essential to understanding properly our common humanity – as well as heterosexual marriage being a good foundation for effective child-rearing.

    This is not anti-gay. Tolerance of homosexuality is something any decent society should produce. But homosexuality is an outlier in the structure of human kinship which has always defined biological gender, and in my view always should. Procreation is the business of a man and a woman, for a child. Marriage is the social definition of procreation, a fundamental (absolutely fundamental) recognition of biology. Don’t argue to me about ‘stolen’ children if you want to support ‘gay’ marriage.

    All else is adoption – pseudo-procreation. Adoption happens, it can be good, useful, but it is not procreation and it should not come within the definitional parameters of marriage as a ‘normal’ and in fact ‘essential’ part of marriage (as it necessarily would have to be for ‘gay’ marriage to be procreative). It takes a man and a woman, Pedro. A mum and a dad. No doubt it even took that to make you, Pedro – so who are you most like? Your mum, your dad, or both in some way, and maybe a bit like your grandma or your uncle too??? A shame if by some circumstance you don’t know and can’t answer these simple questions.

    I too don’t want the state anywhere near my kids. But even more, I don’t want the state anywhere near any kid’s right to know of their biological origins either.

  147. Pedro

    “Go!” Why on earth do you put that at the end of your demands for a response? Do you think debating policies is like speed chess? Or is that just another manifestation of being a dick?

    “the principal state interest in marriage is not to enhance the liberty of the couple, but protect the rights of children and society”

    So I’ll tell my lesbian friends that their daughter is imaginary shall I? Apologies if I’ve wrongly ascribed a religious motive to your position, though I spose that’s not very offensive.

    Anyway, I think you’ll find that the modern western state got into the marriage business for reasons other than the state’s interest in children. Also, I don’t see how recognising marriage is a necessary requirement to protect the interests of children and society. I suspect you’re trying to massage your argument, but it’s not taking you anywhere.

    I think it is pretty clear that lasting relationships will be formed, and some then broken, and children born, irrespective of whether marriages are recognised by the state. There is nothing in the Marriage Act that will change the welfare implications of that fact. The Family Law Act and the equivalent laws about defactos do have welfare implications, but that is to reduce the demand on the state.

  148. .

    Marriage is the social definition of procreation

    This is pomo nonsense. We won, pedro.

  149. Pedro

    Lizzie, your arguments for hetro marriage are not arguments against gay marriage.

    “Tolerance of homosexuality is something any decent society should produce. But homosexuality is an outlier in the structure of human kinship which has always defined biological gender, and in my view always should.”

    You don’t tolerate homosexuality, you accept it. But maybe you didn’t realise you’re sounding like a bigot.

    ” It takes a man and a woman, Pedro. A mum and a dad. No doubt it even took that to make you, Pedro – so who are you most like? Your mum, your dad, or both in some way, and maybe a bit like your grandma or your uncle too??? A shame if by some circumstance you don’t know and can’t answer these simple questions.”

    Thanks for the biology lesson, but being a dad myself I’d kinda worked out the first bit. As for your question, I can’t really answer that as my dad died when I was 5 and mum raised me and my 3 younger sisters by herself. No doubt I’m totally fucked up through not having a dad around and thus prone to these stupid ideas of freedom and treating people equally.

    Here is a question for you, and apologies to Bryan Caplan from whom I kinda stole it, who do you think is better off not being born?

  150. Jim Rose

    marriage laws are not about cohabitation. they are about enforcing obligations on dead-beat dads.

    On marriage as a humanly devised set of constraints, Doug Allen challenges you to describe it to a 19 year old male:
    • Marriage is about responsibility, monogamy and a painful exit if things go awry.
    • Yes, there is the prospect of children, and mutual support, but only if you sign up to child support obligations, community property rules and other constraints that are enforceable.

  151. dover_beach

    So does contract enforcement of commercial contracts.

    FFS.

    dot, yes, enforcement of commercial contracts is public which is evinced by the fact that if these contracts don’t satisfy certain minimal requirements they are not recognized as contracts by the courts themselves.

    Libertarians support a marriage culture. They just don’t support additional marriage laws.

    John Mc, they and I are not asking for additional marriage laws, simply that if the government recognizes marriage – as it should – that it avoid undermining the institution while protecting the rights of children.

    Lizzie, bravo.

  152. Pedro

    Agreed Mark. This is a great debate for showing up the differences between conservatives and classical liberals. Conservatives don’t like change and so when it is proposed, have to go searching for reasons to oppose something that they don’t really understand why they are against.

    It’s best to be a libertarian with conservative instincts so you don’t blindly jump at change, but you can also persuade yourself that freedom enhancing changes are nothing to be afraid of.

  153. Pedro

    “that it avoid undermining the institution”

    Well that is a change of argument, but how does the institution get undermined by 2 gay guys or girls signing a marriage register?

    Will I be any less married?

  154. dover_beach

    So I’ll tell my lesbian friends that their daughter is imaginary shall I?

    Who said they’re imaginary? One thing I’m sure of though, the child was not a product of the relationship itself, and never can be so in such a relationship, which is why, as Lizzie argued, they can never be marriages.

    I think it is pretty clear that lasting relationships will be formed, and some then broken, and children born, irrespective of whether marriages are recognised by the state.

    Who has denied this? The point is that marriage is the most desirable condition for the raising of children which is why the state has an interest in marriage.

    Also, I don’t see how recognising marriage is a necessary requirement to protect the interests of children and society.

    If marriage is the most desirable condition for the raising of children, then it follows that it is the most efficacious and efficient means for the state to promote for this purpose. So, if you’re not seeing it, remove the hand from your eyes.

    I’m totally fucked up through not having a dad around and thus prone to these stupid ideas of freedom and treating people equally.

    Freedom? Nothing is stopping two gay men from living together. So, the concern for freedom is nonsense. So far as equality is concerned, this only flies if you are also going to open marriage up to friends, widowed siblings, polygamy, groups, and so on. Otherwise, the claim about equality is just a farce, and there are problems apart from this; namely, if you do not establish what marriage is, you have no means of determining whether discrimination is just or unjust.

  155. Julie Novak

    DB – My general disposition is that I’m no fan of the coercive state enumerating, or encouraging through policy, any specific family structure.

    I say this not only on basic freedom grounds, but upon recognition of some of the dynamics identified by American economist Steven Horwitz on the interrelation between market development and family formation.

    Specifically, the separation of family structure and household production since the Industrial Revolution has meant that family structures are going to be increasingly determined by love-interests, not production-interests. And if families are to be defined by their love-interests, then gays and lesbians will want in on the action (excuse the pun). These forces appear to be essentially beyond the reach of public policy control.

    I find Horwitz’s analysis on the evolution of the family to be quite convincing, and I don’t see how these developments, in isolation, are necessarily conducive to the growth of the public sector.

    It is other matters, particularly surrounding the mass welfare state which encourages illegitimacy and parental absenteeism, which ought to be the key concern, not marriage which ought to be deregulated anyhow.

  156. John Mc

    I agree completely with everything that Julie has said above, but I think conservatives fail to acknowledge that marriage continues to offer financial and wellbeing benefits. There’s many studies out there which correlate marriage with being wealthier, happier and healthier. Marriage will be around for a long time to come. It’s not going to go anywhere because some legislation is passed one way or another. People’s personal relationships and their desire to seek their own wellbeing will be what it is regardless of what any particular law says.

  157. Pedro

    The problem here is that conclusions do not follow premises and questions are begged. So examples:

    “One thing I’m sure of though, the child was not a product of the relationship itself, and never can be so in such a relationship, which is why, as Lizzie argued, they can never be marriages.” That is only true if you define marriage as between a man and woman. But the argument is about whether the definition should be changed.

    “The point is that marriage is the most desirable condition for the raising of children which is why the state has an interest in marriage.” It might be correct to claim that a stable father-mother relationship is the most desirable condition for the raising of children, but given the variety of cultural practices across the human experience, you probably need to get some evidence for that. And to cut off the expected response, comparing a married couple to a drug-adled single mum is an anecdote not evidence for your claim.

    If we accept the assertion, your premise is not an argument against gay marriage. The argument for gay marriage is that if the institution exists under state law then there is no reason to restrict it to hetros. This is the simple point you fail to answer.

    Marriage is available to hetros irrespective of whether they will have children, and including when they clearly won’t have children. Lesbians may have children whether you like it or not and if they do, you’re argument about the state’s limited interest in marriage must support the claim of the lesbian mother to marry her female partner.

  158. dover_beach

    Conservatives don’t like change and so when it is proposed, have to go searching for reasons to oppose something that they don’t really understand why they are against.

    No, we just like reasons for change; reasons you’ve yet to provide. All you’ve inchoately provided up to now is an argument for state recognition of committed gay relationships as civil unions, not as marriages.

    Well that is a change of argument,

    There is no change of argument. Did you earlier miss:

    Given that the state has an interest in marriage, it should do nothing more than enacting a limited set of rights and duties that make it desirable for men and women as well as protecting the interests of children – and thus the state’s interest – but no more.

    Moving on:

    but how does the institution get undermined by 2 gay guys or girls signing a marriage register?

    Will I be any less married?

    That is a stupid argument. On the one hand, no, for precisely the same reason that even if the government no longer recognized marriage in toto, to the extent that you fulfill the form of marriage you would still be married, in precisely the same way that a square remains a square even if the government enacted a law that recognized circles as squares. On the other hand, it does impact upon the institution in the long run because it renders the requirements of exclusivity and permanence incoherent as well, the effect of which is to render the institution itself incoherent.

  159. Pedro

    “There’s many studies out there which correlate marriage with being wealthier, happier and healthier.”

    I guess that is probably true of all stable long-term relationships, which will mainly be marriages. But that’s a good point, the State has no business limiting the reach of a social institution that is voluntary and welfare-enhancing for those who sign up.

    The great thing about marriage, is that your promises to each other are solemnised, which is why I think gays want it too.

  160. Pedro

    It wasn’t a stupid argument, it was a question about your claim that gay marriage undermines marriage. Now that you’ve attemped an answer, we can see that there’s no there there!

    “On the other hand, it does impact upon the institution in the long run because it renders the requirements of exclusivity and permanence incoherent as well, the effect of which is to render the institution itself incoherent.”

    And just how does it do that? How are two guys making the same promise my wife and I made somehow rendering the marriage relationship less exclusive or permanent?

  161. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    You don’t tolerate homosexuality, you accept it.

    Yep Pedro. What a precious little lecture. Naturally, I have no idea about ‘freedom-enhancing’ activities. I certainly accept homosexuality. Some of my best lovers in my chequered past have been homosexual males, expressing a sideline interest. I also have heaps of gay friends of both sexes. Doesn’t change the biological kinship argument one little bit.

    who do you think is better off not being born?

    I’m all for babies getting born, Pedro, including me. And for them knowing where they came from. Glad you know who your dad was, even if you didn’t get to actually get to know him. My parents were complete psychiatric messes and economic failures (both dead now) – but I knew them and loved them, in my fashion, and my wider family still means a lot to me. Biology counts for so many things – your features, your capabilities, your health, even your emotional make-up. It is not deterministic, but it is a sub-stratum that is always there. I am glad your son knows and loves you, so perhaps I am more generous to you than you are to me.

    Dot – male and female gametes belong to individual men and women. Marriage recognises this, institutionalises it. ‘Gay’ marriage doesn’t, which is a real problem for kids. I don’t know what pomo is anyway and I doubt if I care. My views come from a fairly wide experience of life, of sexual relationships in combinations I would not readily admit to having (urban polyandry, my ex-husband once accused), of marriages and childbearing and childrearing (with all attendant mistakes and lessons learned), and from a political shift from the dark side left to the libertarian tinged (always was at heart I think) as I have learned more.

    I think you once said “I hear the word feminism, and I reach for my gun”. Reach for it on this, mate. You are being conned by this stuff.

  162. Pedro

    Lizzie, the point of my question is simple. There’s a lot of talk about X being better than Y. But kids will end up with Y anyway and a life of Y is still better than no life at all (which is a point Caplan makes); and so institutional arrangements that just assume X are going to leave people out.

    Dover’s claim boils down to:

    1 Mum and dad is best.

    2 Because mum and dad is best, marriage should be for mum and dad only.

    Yet life presents us with mum and mum or dad and dad anyway. Stopping gay marriage because you think mum and dad is better than mum and mum is not going to stop mum and mum. What is best is not determinative of what is.

  163. JamesK

    Dover’s claim boils down to:

    1 Mum and dad is best.

    2 Because mum and dad is best, marriage should be for mum and dad only.

    Yet life presents us with mum and mum or dad and dad anyway. Stopping gay marriage because you think mum and dad is better than mum and mum is not going to stop mum and mum. What is best is not determinative of what is.

    Typical Pedronic drivel.

    Presumably we should additionally include incestuous and polygamous relationships as equal in law to traditional marriage too – using the same moronic/pedronic ‘rationale‘?

    Indeed why not abolish all crimes off the stature books as they happen anyways?

  164. Pedro

    James, the filter has snatched my first reply, but suffice to say, congratulations on another intelligent contribution.

  165. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    I don’t argue to stop gay people from adopting kids, Pedro. I know some good gay parents. However, I am concerned when a child is ‘created’ for gay people to the exclusion of the child’s other biological parent. While I accept that this happens already (and not just with gay people) I don’t think the state should actively ‘normalise’ this form of procreation, which is what ‘gay’ marriage would do. Donor reproductive technologies are used today, but let’s not pretend that the outcomes are not, or may not be, problematic for kids. For this reason, such technologies should be kept for outliers, not part of the mainstream of procreation.

    What I do argue is that the state should not sanction a donor assisted reproductive arrangement as equivalent to mum and dad doing the job. This is what DB argues too.

    Many people, imho, can be a bit gay if granted social permission, and there is an element of choice in it for more than a few. The Romans and Greeks had a better idea – keep it separate from reproductive marriage but enjoy homosexual activities if inclined longer term beyond early experimentation (which randy boys will often try, as they tell me), including life-long loving friendships if desired. However, let’s not idealise the situation in Greece and Rome; adult men were generally expected not to be homosexual any longer – many frowned on it – and were required to have commitment to reproduction with their wives. In an industrial society, without strong extended families and within an ideology of companionate and fair marriage, a lifelong and exclusive heterosexual partnership (no mistresses or flings thankx darling and I won’t either – and it works better if gay isn’t an issue) offers the most stable environment for children – and less heartache all round for everyone.

    Given our cultural black and white views on ‘gay’ (you are or you aren’t; what a disaster), then a socially pressured ‘gay’ marriage culture, say in 50 years time, could produce a lot of ‘created’ kids. Not so good for the kids; just as lots of dadless kids (mums, you are womyn, hear you roar, for your benefits) are not good for the kids under the present ‘loss’ of heterosexual marriage as a social ideal (thus: the state as ‘dad’).

    I’ve reached my views after a lot of reading, trial-and-error and a lot of heartache, Pedro, and I know what I think is preferable. I’ll certainly give others leave to think and argue otherwise.

    As I’ve been through this debate what seems like countless times on the Cat, I’ll bow out of it now.

  166. C.L.

    …I am concerned when a child is ‘created’ for gay people to the exclusion of the child’s other biological parent.

    On the taxpayer’s dime, of course.

  167. Jarrah

    “They are marriages to the extent that they publicly exhibited the forms of marriage and were recognized to as such.”

    Exactly, dover. Thus not needing government intervention at all.

  168. .

    Exactly, dover. Thus not needing government intervention at all.

    Unless you want to subsidise traditional families, whilst the deriding of subsidising anyone else and making silly claims that libertarians want to subsidise IVF for lesbians. (Only as an equality before law principle – it should receive NO funding. The Government doesn’t exist to ameliorate God given externalities, like infertility or ugliness).

    QED.

    Pedro, Jarrah, we won.

  169. JC

    Dover

    The institution of marriage thing you are looking for isn’t what we have or will get with the state intervention we have.

  170. Infidel Tiger

    I don’t argue to stop gay people from adopting kids

    I do. Homosexuality is nature’s way of telling you, you ain’t meant to procreate. That is unless homosexuality is a choice and not a genetic calling, but that would tend to fly in the face of science.

  171. C.L.

    Thus not needing government intervention at all.

    Precisely. We need statist groupies to stop encouraging their beloved government to monster marriage.

  172. Jarrah

    “No, it won’t [lead to diversification in marriage types].”

    Of course it would! There would be marriages under the multitude of religious rules about marriage, each slightly or substantially different from the rest. There would be unique forms that people make up for themselves. There would be marriages between couples, between threesomes or more. There would be traditional marriage, time-limited or otherwise conditional marriage, the academically interesting line marriage, etc etc.

    You will say that most of these aren’t marriage as you understand it. That’s fine, that’s your right. As I’ve said before, I don’t think the perfectly legal and superficially traditional ‘marriages’ of convenience are true marriages, so it’s not like I’m oblivious to where you’re coming from.

    However, neither you nor I get to define social institutions. These are necessarily defined by how societies construct them, and that in turn depends on what uses they serve. As Jim Rose, William Bragg, and Julie Novak have pointed out, the underlying social dynamics that gave rise to what you consider ‘true’ marriage have been and are changing. Therefore marriage itself is changing. You might not like that, but stiff cheese.

    Despite these changes, I’m convinced that in the end marriage will survive, and that most marriages will be basically the same as they have been for millennia – between pair-bonded heterosexuals.

  173. .

    Nature?

    I’m with Graeme Bird.

    Nature is a horrible bitch Queen who must be tamed in consideration of the brutal and pulverising calamities that are sent down upon us.

  174. C.L.

    Describe how sodomy tames nature, Dot.

  175. .

    As Jim Rose, William Bragg, and Julie Novak have pointed out, the underlying social dynamics that gave rise to what you consider ‘true’ marriage have been and are changing. Therefore marriage itself is changing. You might not like that, but stiff cheese.

    Please don’t give Bragg credit. He thinks gay marriage (and blood donations, and the mining boom, and non Keynesian economics…etc) is a reason to levy another Pigouvian tax on us to ameliorate someone’s inadequacies they have over their appearance, where they bought their home or their lowly wage.

    You may as well draw a pentagram in blood around yourself and chant Azazel a few times.

  176. .

    Describe how sodomy tames nature, Dot

    Describe how a blowjob does.

  177. JC

    Lol , yea dot.

    The idiot wants to tax people if they wear a good bag of fruit to an interview.

    I’ve never see a leftie come down so quick. The moron showed up with all this attitude and raised nose.

    He got the proverbial shit kicked outta him and he’s now a no show.

    As I keep saying… The cat is a leftie killing field.

  178. Tel

    You don’t tolerate homosexuality, you accept it.

    Tolerance is an aspect of society, acceptance is a choice of each individual. Pedro, you can hardly call yourself libertarian if you are in the business of instructing other people what they must accept.

  179. dover_beach

    It wasn’t a stupid argument, it was a question about your claim that gay marriage undermines marriage. Now that you’ve attemped an answer, we can see that there’s no there there!

    Pedro, your argument indeed was stupid. Just how stupid was it? Well, let me repeat your argument substituting two gay men for a man and his beagle and ask:
    But how does a man and his beagle being allowed to marry affect my marriage, will I be any less married? The answer is, No. So, yes, it was a very stupid argument if it can offer no argument against a man and his beagle being eligible for marriage.

    And just how does it do that? How are two guys making the same promise my wife and I made somehow rendering the marriage relationship less exclusive or permanent?

    Because, given that a relationship between two men or two women cannot in and of itself generate children, there is no reason for such a relationship – even though it may be sexual and emotional – to involve either exclusivity or permanence. In other words, the conjugal view provides a rational explanation for these features, the revisionist view cannot.

    That is only true if you define marriage as between a man and woman. But the argument is about whether the definition should be changed.

    So you accept that the existing definition of marriage involves a man and a woman among other things. Good. Now, just who is begging the question? I have an account that makes sense not only of this but of exclusivity and permanence as well. You have no account that can make sense of these last two features without the feature of sexual complementarity.

    It might be correct to claim that a stable father-mother relationship is the most desirable condition for the raising of children, but given the variety of cultural practices across the human experience, you probably need to get some evidence for that.

    The evidence is in, and it isn’t hard to find. You could begin with the work of Charles Murray.

    If we accept the assertion, your premise is not an argument against gay marriage.

    Dear, oh dear. Another begged question. You haven’t even made a case that a relationship between two men or two women constitutes marriage. The argument you’re responding to above addresses the state’s interest in marriage. It doesn’t directly address gay ‘marriage’ but is part of an argument that does.

    Lesbians may have children whether you like it or not

    No, lesbians cannot in and of themselves generate children, and the same is true of single women or men.

    There’s a lot of talk about X being better than Y. But kids will end up with Y anyway and a life of Y is still better than no life at all (which is a point Caplan makes); and so institutional arrangements that just assume X are going to leave people out.

    This is a strange argument. I would have thought that if a life of X for children is better than Y than you would want to promote Y for obvious reasons. And this business about no life at all is a nonsense.

  180. dover_beach

    Exactly, dover. Thus not needing government intervention at all.

    Jarrah, the government wasn’t intervening. It simply accepted the understanding of marriage as it has been understood since time immemorial. In particular, it adopted the general form of marriage recognized in the common law tradition.

    Of course it would! There would be marriages under the multitude of religious rules about marriage, each slightly or substantially different from the rest. There would be unique forms that people make up for themselves. There would be marriages between couples, between threesomes or more. There would be traditional marriage, time-limited or otherwise conditional marriage, the academically interesting line marriage, etc etc.

    You will say that most of these aren’t marriage as you understand it.

    No. There wouldn’t be this or that type of marriage. There would just be diverse relationships. If the term ‘marriage’ is to be used it will have to denote something common to each or the use of the term ‘marriage’ is otiose. If this commonality is absent, there could not be the “slightly or substantially different” forms of marriage you’re referring to. Sorry, you haven’t thought through your own argument.

    However, neither you nor I get to define social institutions. These are necessarily defined by how societies construct them.

    I agree with the first sentence but not the second. I’m defending the definition of marriage as it has been understood since time immemorial so I’m not defining marriage at all. And in exactly the same way that individuals don’t get to redefine social institutions, the same is also true of a generation. And given that you believe that marriage is essentially a dyadic relationship between the sexes – the use of ‘most’ in “most marriages will be basically the same as they have been for millennia between pair-bonded heterosexuals” begging the question – you have implicitly recognize that the forms of marriage are complementarity, exclusivity and permanence.

  181. Jarrah

    “Please don’t give Bragg credit. He thinks…”

    That a person is wrong in one area doesn’t mean they are wrong in all areas.

  182. hzhousewife

    Nice discussion piece Lizzie.

    I would like to hear from some children of the
    “experiment” – there are quite a lot now in
    their twenties, even thirties, who have been
    raised by IVF and single gender families, and who are
    now making choices for their own future family structures.

  183. Jarrah

    “Jarrah, the government wasn’t intervening.”

    What else do you call it when one form is mandatory, and all others are prohibited?

    “It simply accepted the understanding of marriage as it has been understood since time immemorial.”

    Presuming you don’t mean the legal-technical definition of ‘time immemorial’, that’s self-evidently false. See as one example the many kinds of marriage just from the Bible.

    “If the term ‘marriage’ is to be used it will have to denote something common to each or the use of the term ‘marriage’ is otiose.”

    These other forms will share the only thing common to marriages currently – a formal commitment to the closest kind of relationship. Exclusivity, permanence, and children (or even the intention of children) are not common to all marriages, so your persistence on these angles is absurd.

  184. Pedro

    I give in Dover, you’re absolutely correct. Only married people can have kids. The state has no business encouraging anything else and those damn fornicators and sodomites can rot in hell (with their beagles).

    Tel:
    “tol·er·ate
    /ˈtäləˌrāt/Verb
    1.Allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.
    2.Accept or endure (someone or something unpleasant or disliked) with forbearance.”
    I was just pointing out that she sounded like a bigot and that is nasty. Even libertarians can be nice and expect that of others (ignoring the usual incidents of robust debate like calling JamesK a dope).

  185. C.L.

    We know without any shadow of doubt that children with a mother and father are better off in every way than other children. This is axiomatic. To deliberately deprive them of mothers and fathers by permitting homosexual adoption – or Frankensteinian in-vitro mash-ups for homosexual ‘parents’ – is, ipso facto, child abuse. (As we know, from previous discussions). The vengeful gay lobby is simply trying to use the state (and its monopoly on violence, of course) to destroy the meaning of actual marriage; the Dot wing of libertarianism is cheering them on under the lame figleaf of wanting da state to get outta da marriage business. Real reason: an infantile belief that unless the state forces people to alter something with a clear, millennia-old meaning, that this constitutes tyranny! Even that doesn’t quite explain it. It has more to do with the belief some ‘libertarians’ hold that they must sycophantically cling to leftists because leftists are the true Kool Kids – the rebs who smoke dope, loathe sexual strictures (and therefore Christianity) and constitute less embarrassing fellow-travellers than Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan. This species of libertarian suffers one fear more acutely than any other: to be guffawed at by David Marr; to be disinvited, as it were, from the key party of moral subjectvism.

  186. steve from brisbane

    As far as I can see, this thread does not address the issue of government treating de facto relationships the same as marriage.

    De facto relationships are far more likely to break up than marriages. Also, having lived with your future spouse also (contrary to what most expect) indicates a greater prospect of future divorce.

    If the concern is what governments should or should not recognize or encourage, for the sake of stable families, and reducing the welfare cost to government of broken families, surely the way bigger fish to fry should really be the way it deals with de facto heterosexuals.

    [By the way, to my surprise, and despite the "too much information" aspect of Lizzie's posts, I find I agree with her take on it. But I would add that the commodification of medically assisted reproduction that heterosexual couples have enthusiastically adopted - with IVF and sperm and egg donors and so on - has been a significant factor in homosexual couples figuring that they are no different in the reproductive stakes, and hence the old "marriage is about having kids" argument has been weakened. Again, I would say the problem is really the straight couples who went down that path despite its problems - for example, IVF still results in a higher rate of birth defects, but that seems to stop virtually no one from trying it.]

  187. dover_beach

    What else do you call it when one form is mandatory, and all others are prohibited?

    Jarrah, the other forms are not prohibited. They are simply not recognized as marriages.

    Presuming you don’t mean the legal-technical definition of ‘time immemorial’, that’s self-evidently false. See as one example the many kinds of marriage just from the Bible.

    The ‘many forms’ in the Bible are largely consistent with the form of marriage. Setting aside the facetious forms mentioned in your link, polygamous marriage is essentially a concurrent marriage between A and B/ C, where B and C are not the themselves married to A. These marriages are, however permitted in the Bible but felt to be undesirable. Leaving the Bible aside, it is not inconsistent with marriage as I described it but it lacks the coherence of monogamy. Gay and group ‘marriages’ are however inconsistent with marriage.

    These other forms will share the only thing common to marriages currently – a formal commitment to the closest kind of relationship. Exclusivity, permanence, and children (or even the intention of children) are not common to all marriages, so your persistence on these angles is absurd.

    No, what is absurd is your continual equivocation regarding marriage. You use the word as if it simply meant ‘relationship’, but not any particular type of relationship. And, here, recognizing that if marriage has no common element you indeed cannot suggest that it will become “slightly or substantially different” you’ve fished from the depths, “formal commitment to the closest kind of relationship” as the core which itself begs the question. Why must marriage involve formal commitments? (There have been marriages without these.) Why must marriages be the closest kind of relationship? (There have been marriages that haven’t been particularly close.) Why must the closest kinds of relationship be exclusive and permanent. And on, and on. BTW, exclusivity, permanence, and children do not need to be come to all particular marriages; to believe that this is a requirement is a failure to recognize that particular marriages can potentially fall short of these elements. You, it seems, are labouring under the illusion that if a particular pen has run out of ink it is either, no longer a pen, or that pens are not writing instruments. Why, because there is this particular pen that has run out of ink. Both of these conclusions simply do not follow.

  188. dover_beach

    As far as I can see, this thread does not address the issue of government treating de facto relationships the same as marriage.

    sfb, I do mention that when referring to cohabitation, and yes, you are right, the government should decline to treat de facto as de jure marriages. And, yes, the decline of a marriage culture is the fault of heterosexuals. In fact, that is what the post was about, but for some reason, the conversation in the thread on marriage currently always turns to gay ‘marriage’ which is what I wanted to avoid. As I said above thread, the current debate is merely a symptom of a larger malaise. The thing is though, if the tide cannot be turned on such a clear issue, forget about achieving anything in respect of cohabitation, no-fault divorce, etc. and thus preventing the present course of family fragmentation.

  189. dover_beach

    Julie, sorry about the tardy response:

    DB – My general disposition is that I’m no fan of the coercive state enumerating, or encouraging through policy, any specific family structure.

    Neither I, generally, but I would hope that the state would promote with a light touch the most efficacious and efficient structure for the care and education of children, the kernel of which is children and their biological parents. These families could be nuclear or extended, but I would not want to see the state remain silent while increasing ‘diversification’ leads to increasing family fragmentation the burden of which is largely picked up by the state.

    Specifically, the separation of family structure and household production since the Industrial Revolution has meant that family structures are going to be increasingly determined by love-interests, not production-interests. And if families are to be defined by their love-interests, then gays and lesbians will want in on the action (excuse the pun). These forces appear to be essentially beyond the reach of public policy control.

    Given your summary, I find his analysis lazily follows much of the sociological analysis of recent years. The problem both share is that they equivocate on the idea of marriage. Do ‘production-interests’ make sense of complementarity, exclusivity, or permanence? No. Does this mean that production-interests were absent? No. You could argue that the clamour from gay men and women is to protect their ‘production-interests’, but these can be protected without marriage. Did ‘production-interests’ distinguish marriage from other types of relationship? No. Were the love-interests that purportedly appear in marriage following the changes of the Industrial Revolution absent prior to it? No. Just read the poetry and prose prior to the Industrial Revolution. I could go on but this should be sufficient to indicate that such an understanding fails to make the idea of marriage intelligible.

    Horowitz’s thesis suffers from the same problems of the law and economics approach. Each looks at what marriage/ law has done or does and then each tries to understand marriage/ law in economic terms. I have significant problems with this approach: the attempt is always an abject failure. What happens is you have, Posner, for instance, using economics to ape law and the performance fails to make intelligible existing features of law. Look at the mess that the law and economics approach has made of insurance through all of the no-fault schemes it has purportedly justified on the grounds of efficiency even though such an approach is contrary to law and justice. See Ernest Weinrib for an excellent critique of the law and economics approach. (Get my email from Sinc and I can send you some papers and references if you’re interested.)

    It is other matters, particularly surrounding the mass welfare state which encourages illegitimacy and parental absenteeism, which ought to be the key concern, not marriage which ought to be deregulated anyhow.

    No, and precisely for the reason CL has mentioned previously. The welfare state is not prior to increasing “illegitimacy and parental absenteeism”. They are prior to the welfare state. Increasing illegitimacy and parental absenteeism, among other social pathologies, are a consequence of the irresponsibility cultivated by social liberalism and its worship of the felt need. So, you are not going to be able to reduce rates of “illegitimacy and parental absenteeism” by deregulating marriage; that would in fact increase those rates further.

    The other thing here is the effect of liberalizing marriage law over the last half century has in fact been the opposite of deregulation. What has happened is an expansion of laws regarding de facto relationships, new laws concerned with the care and custody of children outside of marriage precisely because of this liberalization, and so on.

    As I said up thread, the state is interested in marriage because of children; it is not interested in children because of marriage. If children are increasingly occurring outside of marriage, there you will also find the state. The argument I’ve made is that marriage is the least intrusive mode of caring and educating children until adulthood. Why the least intrusive? Because parents are the most likely to love their biological children and make the necessary sacrifices on their behalf. It is also the best means because children do better across a range of indicators, through out their life, where they are cared for and morally educated by their biological parents. It really is that simple.

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