Experts explore flaws in amendment and supporting arguments

The video from Evan Wolfson’s inspiring speech at today’s luncheon on the marriage discrimination amendment will be up shortly. In the mean time, check out the slide shows prepared by Professors Maxine Eichner and Holning Lau.

Eichner’s presentation helps show just how remarkably expansive the proposed amendment is (it could quite possibly jeopardize public recognition of things like domestic violence protections and hospital visitation rights for unmarried couples of all sexual orientations).

Lau’s presentation debunks some of the arguments put forth with straight faces by amendment proponents (such as the absurd claim that same sex marriage somehow undermines heterosexual marriage and promotes divorce).



  1. James

    November 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    As the Racial Justice debate has shown, Republican are cognitively impaired when it comes to processing data that don’t support their ideological agenda. We cannot fight fanaticism with facts.

  2. Mike P.

    November 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Evan Wolfson said that to oppose same-sex marriage is to oppose “personal freedom” and to “impose religious views” on everyone else. I wonder, does Evan think that bans on polygamy do the same thing?

  3. Rob Schofield

    November 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    How would you know about what he did or didn’t say, Mike? The video’s not up yet and we had no one at the event registered under your name or email address.

  4. david esmay

    November 29, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    @Mike P,the amendment has nothing to do with polygamy, I see you’re trying to employ the Stam, or what’s commonly refered to as the Wookie arguement. I had a good friend of mine who brought all three of his wives here, and lived out his days, his last remaining wife recently passed away. Col. Ya Ba was the only montagnard Province chief in Viet Nam, overseeing Pleiku. In his case, yeah, I’d support polygamy, but the Col. himself wouldn’t recommend it, he always said, “Dave, no two tigers on one mountain.”

  5. James

    November 30, 2011 at 9:45 am

    @ Mike

    Polygamy is god’s will. Just ask any true believer of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. The only reason today’s Mormon’s don’t practice plural marriage is because their holy book was reinterpreted for secular political reasons.

    So a vote for Mitt Romney is a “really” a vote for polygamy, except, of course, that he’s flip-flopped on that too.

    All of which is a long and snarky way of saying: keep your god out of my public policy.

  6. Mike P.

    November 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Rob, I got the information from this article here: http://www.ncnn.com/edit-news/7477-opponent-of-same-sex-marriage-ban-scolds-nc.

    The amendment is about marriage generally, and its language precludes both same-sex marriage and polygamy. What I’m trying to do is understand the limits of this ‘right’ to marry. Nobody here bothers to answer my question, which is ‘why should polygamy be illegal, given that you think same-sex marriage should be legal?’ If it is true that ‘everyone can marry whoever they love’ and ‘we shouldn’t impose morality’ then there is no reason to oppose polygamy. The fact is that any principle that justifies same-sex marriage would justify polygamy, which is why nobody can explain to me why we should oppose polygamy.

    I am well aware that no major politicians support polygamy. My concern is with the principle that we would be placing in the law. If marriage is removed from its basic foundation -bringing together male and female for the raising of a family- it rapidly becomes incoherent.

  7. Rob Schofield

    November 30, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    There are many responses to the absurd polygamy red herring. Here are a few:

    1. Same sex marriage brings us no closer to such a result than ending other longstanding mariage “traditions” (such as the centuries old ban on interracial marriage and the longstanding tradition that the woman was the property of her husband) did.

    2. The claim that the “basic foundation” of marriage is to bring a male and a female together to raise a family is patently absurd. If this were so, why do we allow infertile couples or elderly couples to marry? If this was ever the main purpose of marriage, we have long ago abandoned it. Of course, having said this, it’s worth noting that many same sex couples are much better positioned to fulfill the role of successfully raising a family than a huge percentage of heterosexual couples.

    3. As for the practice of polygamy itself, I for one have seen zero evidence that a predisposition toward it is an innate human characteristic shared by a huge percentage of the population. I don’t even think many (if any) would-be polygamists argue that it is.

    Being gay or lesbian is, in sharp contrast, just such an innate human characteristic shared by millions of Americans. To deny these people the right to marry the person they love simply because YOU think some other groups will use the conferrence of this right as an excuse to argue in favor of a practice that bears no more relation to their love than a monogamous hetersoexual couple’s love does is bigotry and discrimination of the highest order.

  8. Rob Schofield

    November 30, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    If anything, it’s traditional conservative heterosexual couples who believe that their marital status and relationship is somehow commanded by God that have more in common with the wannabe polygamists of this country (and others) than do the overwhelming majority of same sex couples. If there’s a slippery slope out there, I would argue this is the one to be worried about.

  9. Mike P.

    November 30, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Rob, I do love the fact that you say to even wonder about polygamy is ‘absurd.’ It was only thirty years ago that Betty Friedan bemoaned the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment and said that the reason it was defeated was ‘hysteria.’ In the NY Times Magazine, she wrote: “Discussion of [the ERA] bogged down in hysterical claims that the amendment would eliminate privacy in bathrooms, encourage homosexual marriage, put women in the trenches and deprive housewives of their husbands’ support.” (Betty Friedan, “Feminism’s Next Step,” N.Y. Times, July 5, 1981). In fact, we conservatives and our ‘hysterical’ claims turned out to be correct: it was only 12 years later that courts in Hawaii used the state ERA there to try to impose same-sex marriage (it was stopped because of an amendment similar to the one approved in NC). So you understand why I do not simply think this is absurd: we’ve been told so before, and we’ve been right.

    It is not only those crazy ‘fundies’ who would like polygamy. It is people like those described sympathetically in liberal media outlets such as here (http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/07/28/only-you-and-you-and-you.html) and here (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2010/01/03/loves_new_frontier/). They prefer to use the term ‘polyamory’ because it more fashionable.

    As you are probably aware, bans on interracial marriage were far less common than the basic definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. This dates back to pre-Christian Greece and Rome, the Justinian Code, and is today nearly universal among the laws of nations, including in nations with hardly any Christian influence (such as China and Japan). Furthermore, you would think that the analogy to civil rights would be challenged by the fact that strong majorities of African-Americans oppose same-sex marriage. Does this not cause you any doubt? Or do you believe that William Barber speaks for all black people?

    What about innate characteristics? As you know, there is no condition that anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage be gay- so why should there be a condition that people who enter into a group marriage be ‘polyamorous’? Incidentally, many ‘poly’ people do maintain that they are ‘born that way,’ see here (http://www.lovemore.com/faq.php#pio). Furthermore, what about bisexuals? You acknowledge that as an orientation, I assume, because you tag blog posts as relating to ‘LGBT rights.’ Suppose a bisexual person says he is equally attracted to both men and women, and is in a relationship with another bisexual man and a straight woman. They are raising kids, they love each equally, there is no jealously, etc. On what grounds do you deny them a marriage license?

    Let me be clear: I am not saying that you support polyamory, or that the purpose of your support for same-sex marriage is to bring about polyamory. What I am saying is that the nature and logic of the claims you make about marriage leads to the idea that polyamory should be allowed- indeed, that it is a ‘human right.’

  10. Rob Schofield

    December 1, 2011 at 6:10 am

    Good grief, buddy. You definitely need to find something better to do with your time.

  11. Something to Think about

    December 1, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    if this amendment is pasted NC it will in a way allow polygamy, how you asked, easy a couple get marriage in a state where gay marriage is allow, then one of those person can come to NC and marry someone of the opposite sex.. and it would be complete legal. so that marriage will be a g, b, s. creating the first true legal polygamy case in NC, since gay marriage isn’t legal under federal law, but under state law where the marriage happen, so one of those folks can legally marriage a member of the opposite sex here in NC and that marriage will be legal on the state and Federal level.. creating a polygamy marriage.. completely legal..

  12. Mike P.

    December 4, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    If you’re going to have an argument, Rob, have an argument. I’d assume someone who runs a blog about politics and who is posting about ‘experts exploring flaws in arguments’ for the amendment would not regard having an argument as a waste of time, but I guess I’m mistaken. If you don’t have a reply, say so.

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