Sunday, June 26, 2011

How a sex blog becomes a sexual justice blog.



I'm overjoyed about the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, and somewhat overeager about what it might mean for the rest of the country.

Which is weird, because I'm dating a man and not planning to get married. I am the opposite of someone who should care about this. I can't claim "well, I just love justice," because although I'd hope I'm not anti-justice, I don't follow other forms of justice all that closely. Sexual justice does matter more to me.

The funny thing is, I didn't start a sex blog because I cared about sexual justice. I started The Pervocracy, honestly, just because I had a general LiveJournal (now long since abandoned) and my friends told me they were uncomfortable with me posting about my sex life. Since I have a congenital inability to think something and not say it, I started a blog just to talk about my sex life. The first posts are all "I gave my boyfriend a blowjob today" and "my crotch: let me tell you about it." My first post on feminism wasn't til I had been blogging for four months. Funny thing is, I started caring about sexual justice because I had a sex blog.

Back when I had an OkCupid account, my hardest of hard limits was anyone who said they disapproved of homosexuality. There were other opinions that might make me realize we had irreconcilable political differences, but that was the only one that just made me angry. Because how dare someone think that he had the right to pursue the relationship he wanted, and have no empathy for other people who wanted the same thing. Being celibate and opposed to others' relationships would still be bitter and nasty, but at least it would be consistent!

So the more love and joy I got out of heterosexual relationships, the more I resolved myself to value all relationships. The more freedom I felt in expressing my (rather conflicted and inconsistent) gender, the more I wanted everyone to be able to do the same. The more I came to accept my own body, the less I could tolerate shaming anyone's body. The more I came to appreciate just how good sex can be, the angrier I got when sex was cheapened into a commodity or perverted into a weapon.

I think everyone should care about sexual justice, of course. But in the course of writing this blog, I've realized that if you care about sex, you have to care about sexual justice. It's my belief that if you enjoy wonderful, joyful, mutually enthusiastic sex, the kind where you end it just grinning at each other and feeling perfectly fit against each other's skins--you have the obligation to defend that kind of joy in the world.

44 comments:

  1. Very eloquently put, Holly. I would add that same-sex marriage is only partially about sexual justice, and equally--if not more--about civil rights and equal protection of the laws.

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  2. Holly, I came to your blog as a neophyte gender confused lesbian almost-feminist, and I have to say I am so glad that you are interested in sexual justice, because I have learned so much from your blog, in the few short months that I've been reading. I've left a few silly comments here and there but I think this might be an appropriate place to give you a heartfelt thank you, as a gender confused almost-lesbian less-neophyte feminist.

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  3. As a straight man, it occasionally inspires confusion that I'm strongly in favor of gay rights. I've been accused of being closeted, a homosexual-equivalent of a poe, and mostly of just being gay.

    I guess gay is the new black.

    (heh)

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  4. Yeah.

    As I said to someone elsewhere, I've realised finally that I find people arguing against gay marriage not merely wrong, but shockingly, offensively wrong. I am embarrassed for them the same way I would be if I had an old, mildly-bigoted grandfather who was mostly a nice guy but from time to time piped up with "I don't mind niggers marryin' each other, but I just want to keep 'em away from white women", or some other decrepit opinion from the depths of the ignorant past.

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  5. Hell yeah.

    I have to say I've been thinking about this. I'm in the closet about being poly and kinky, and I've been thinking about this in the framework of some recent Guy Baldwin speeches:

    http://www.leatherati.com/leatherati/2011/05/guy-baldwin-nla-houston-keynote-speech.html

    The key line being - "How do you lead from inside a closet?"

    Personally, I've decided that for now I need to stay in the closet, but I do intend to be a better activist - raising awareness, raising money, and having fun while doing so. I consider it my part in defending joy in our world.

    -Match Stick

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  6. @Nameless: I know you were just making a little pun, but be careful with that joke, okay? Some gay people *are* Black. :-)

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  7. Developers! Developers! Developers!June 27, 2011 at 2:40 AM

    You know, I've got mixed feelings on this. I normally oppose homosexual marriage. Not necessarily because I think it makes bad policy, but because of the attitudes and methods of those who support it. We hear lots of talk about little trivialities that are not matters of state policy in the slightest, like rental cars and health insurance. Where is talk of honor and commitment? Where is the gay/lesbian chastity movement? Why are the Prop. 8 opponents such bigots? And, why are they using courts and the government to force a cultural change down our throats?

    This particular bill answers about as much as it can. It was done democratically, not through appointed justices. It includes a healthy respect for individual freedom. I don't agree with it, but I can't quite bring myself to oppose it either. After all, this part of the reason we have federalism. Let them try this and see how it ends up.

    I think conservative opposition to homosexual marriage is rooted in an opposition to promiscuity. For the longest time, being openly gay or lesbian by definition meant being promiscuous. The recent push for "marriage equality" may mean that this is changing, or that more gays and lesbians are truly interested in expressing fidelity and commitment. Or, this could really just be about "equality", rental cars and health insurance. I'm still doubtful, but I'm willing to give them a chance (although I think California's versions of registered domestic partnerships is a better way of doing that).

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  8. @Developers:

    Um. Do you have a source for that definition? Because I personally was not under the impression that gays and lesbians as a whole were ever _not_ interested in fidelity and commitment, and it seems to me like you must've had your head under a rock for the past decade if you think us queers still aren't talking about those things.

    And anyway, _what if_ all we want is rental cars and health insurance? Why the hell should we have any less right to them than anyone else has? Are you seriously saying that "equality" (nice scare quotes, by the way) should only be granted to those you decide are somehow worthy of it?

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  9. Developers! Developers! Developers!June 27, 2011 at 3:48 AM

    @vvvexation
    Past ten years? That qualifies as recently, given the timescales I'm considering. The thing is, if you go out and look at the protests, political advertisements and press conferences around proposition 8 out here in California, you would find many more references to "hate" or "bigotry" than love coming from the "No on 8" crowd. I tend to think this is part of the reason they lost.

    As a matter of political ideology, I value freedom over equality. Healthcare and rental cars are not actions of the state. You have every right to make choices inside the marketplace and choose insurance providers and rental car agencies that respect your union. They have every right to not to.

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  10. @Developers:

    You think a decade is recent enough to justify "still being doubtful" that we're serious _at all_? How many decades would it take for us to freaking convince you?

    Yes, the No on 8 campaign was badly handled. But I still don't see why you think "people should just quit being assholes because it's _about damn time_ already" isn't as good a reason for marriage equality as "we queers really do have feelings and morals, honest!"

    And if you think in your libertarian wisdom that rental car companies shouldn't have to respect everyone's marriage, why don't you take the position that legal marriage should be abolished entirely? That would at least be logically consistent. Otherwise, you're saying that the state should get to dictate that special privileges be given to those who choose to marry, _and_ saying that not everyone should be allowed to choose to marry.

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  11. @vvvexation and everyone who might get into this debate:

    Don't feed the trolls.

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  12. Developers - While I'm glad you support the law, your reasoning bothers me.

    We hear lots of talk about little trivialities that are not matters of state policy in the slightest, like rental cars and health insurance.
    I'm not sure how rental cars are involved, but whether someone can get health insurance is decidedly non-trivial. (And also, from a conservative point of view, the more people can get on *private* health insurance, the better, no?)

    Where is talk of honor and commitment?
    All over. People don't only want to get married for the health insurance.

    Where is the gay/lesbian chastity movement?
    Who cares? Chastity is a personal decision, not something that requires a "movement."

    Why are the Prop. 8 opponents such bigots?
    Although I can see it as more promoting separation of church and state than anti-Mormon, the ad's probably a bad idea, yeah. For reasons that have nothing to do with gay marriage.

    I think conservative opposition to homosexual marriage is rooted in an opposition to promiscuity.
    Well, as you say yourself, it's not all that promiscuous to get *married.* This seems more like a reason to oppose people being gay in the first place, something that's both impossible to change and doesn't inherently relate to promiscuity anyway. (And why is it the government's business how promiscuous I am?)

    The thing is, if you go out and look at the protests, political advertisements and press conferences around proposition 8 out here in California, you would find many more references to "hate" or "bigotry" than love coming from the "No on 8" crowd.
    Maybe it's a political misstep, but when the law is used to make sure a historically oppressed group of people can't have the same rights as everyone else, it definitely feels like hate and bigotry.

    I value freedom over equality.
    I know I'm sort of Godwinning here, but this is the sort of logic that people who wouldn't admit to being racist used to support Jim Crow laws. Sometimes it's *not* a bus company or lunch counter owner's decision who they'll serve.

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  13. "So the more love and joy I got out of heterosexual relationships, the more I resolved myself to value all relationships"
    That's precisely what supports homophobia and heterosexism, being secretly (perhaps unconsciously) unhappy in your heterosexual relationships because you're repressing homo instincts...

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  14. Barbara - I don't think that's all of it. I think there's also a widespread belief in the otherness of gay people, an impression that homosexuality is some sort of... syndrome of which attraction to the same gender is but one of the symptoms. I think this is where talk of homosexuality as a "lifestyle" comes from--the idea that it represents all sorts of social, sexual, and gender deviances rather than just regular dudes who like dudes and regular ladies who like ladies.

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  15. On the subject of stereotypes and expectations, my friend and I (and her younger sister) were at Seattle Pride Parade yesterday and it was absolutely awesome, but one thing a man said to us sort of stuck with me the whole time. We were all dressed up in rainbow colors, and he sort of stared at us for a few seconds, and then said "You're just kids" and walked away, like he was disappointed.
    I've spent quite a while wondering what he meant by that... that we're too young to understand? Too young to be comfortable with our sexual identities? We are all teenagers, all sentient people, capable of thinking and feeling. I honestly can't think of any reason why us being young, out, and proud is a bad thing. I wanted to say "Isn't that great?" in response, but I'm not really the kind of person to cause a fuss, so I just moved on.
    Anyway, I was hoping someone with a little more world experience could clarify this whole thing for me.

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  16. Yazzy - I'm reading a lot into three words here, but I suspect it's a Protestant-work-ethic "life is supposed to suck" thing--only silly frivolous kids have the luxury of having different sexual orientations, and when you grow up you'll have to take on the adult responsibility of slogging your way though a loveless marriage just like your grandpappy did and his grandpappy did.

    Either that or it's just what you say to people when "you're too old to understand" doesn't fit.

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  17. As a matter of political ideology, I value freedom over equality. Healthcare and rental cars are not actions of the state. You have every right to make choices inside the marketplace and choose insurance providers and rental car agencies that respect your union. They have every right to not to.

    You fail Libertarian 101.

    There's a world of difference between a private company choosing not to service a customer for any particular reason, and the government picking and choosing customers.

    Your glib "freedom over equality" only works in the context of people demanding equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity. And equality before the eyes of the law is part of equality of opportunity. And subsequently, a huge part of freedom.

    (For those keeping score at home, I do support the abolition of state involvement in marriage.)

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  18. "As a matter of political ideology, I value freedom over equality."

    Translation: "As a matter of political ideology, I value privilege over justice."

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  19. I'm completely heterosexual and not particularly invested in getting married (I wouldn't turn it down if the right opportunity turned up, but given that I'm age 41 and still single, I've gotten over holding my breath). However, I think any consenting adults who love each other (and want to) should be able to get married, full stop. It doesn't matter that *I'm* never going to want a gay marriage, and, quite frankly, I don't understand why anyone thinks that should matter.

    As you say, it's about justice and joy -- *that's* what matters.

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  20. Matchstick wrote: Personally, I've decided that for now I need to stay in the closet, but I do intend to be a better activist - raising awareness, raising money, and having fun while doing so. I consider it my part in defending joy in our world.

    @Matchstick: take what Guy said with a grain of salt... his Houston speech was almost a continuation/revision of his Los Angeles LLC speech from the week before (my personal feeling is that he realized he came across as too nasty and bitter, and decided to revise Speech 2.0 for some damage control/image improvement), where he basically railed against everyone who wasn't him and didn't do things exactly his way (and used his bully pulpit to settle some scores with the LLC board, etc.). It's easy for him, as a person without children, near retirement age, financially secure, and whose living is drawn from the kink community to begin with -- meaning he wouldn't be adversely impacted if further outed, unlike most folks -- to criticize everyone else as being scared to come out of the closet. But his way isn't the only way. We all have to find our personal balance.

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  21. Great post! I'm completely with you on the Ok Cupid thing--I absolutely refuse to even message back someone who indicates on their profile that they don't support the LGBT community.

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  22. This is a great post! Definitely more about civil rights than anything else.

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  23. Developers! Developers! Developers!June 27, 2011 at 11:37 PM

    It looks like this is going to be a long comment. Even when I ignore the trolls, it's well over 4k... Here goes...
    I know I'm sort of Godwinning here, but this is the sort of logic that people who wouldn't admit to being racist used to support Jim Crow laws. Sometimes it's *not* a bus company or lunch counter owner's decision who they'll serve.
    To start, Jim Crow Laws required private enterprises to segregate their accommodations. They infringed on the freedom of people who wish to operate non-segregated facilities just as much as anti-segregation laws infringe on the rights of those who want to operate segregated businesses. A number of other Jim Crow Laws were discriminatory in and of themselves, or were enforced in a discriminatory manner. For example, there were laws that forbade blacks from owning firearms. These laws are wrong both because they infringe on individual liberty and because they promote inequality under the law or with regards to state action. These are both very different things than you were describing in the rest of your paragraph. I will assume this is an honest historical mistake, and not an attempt to state that those who oppose anti-discrimination laws are in fact in favor of laws that are themselves discriminatory.

    However, you are also begging the question. You assume that the only reason anyone would oppose anti-discrimination laws is because they are themselves raciest.


    Who cares? Chastity is a personal decision, not something that requires a "movement."

    Let me lower the bar for you. Can you find even a single commentator that says gays or lesbians should delay sex until marriage? Now, can you find anyone who has the same attitude towards heterosexual couples?

    However, I'm tempted to retract this point. I've created a bit of a circular argument here. If we have no cultural idea of gay marriage how can anyone suggest that gay couples wait until marriage? Yeah, this point is far weaker than I initially though.

    Although I can see it as more promoting separation of church and state than anti-Mormon, the ad's probably a bad idea, yeah. For reasons that have nothing to do with gay marriage.
    That takes a lot of ignoring the obvious. Where were the ads attacking the black churches that voted overwhelmingly for prop 8? For for that matter, any other branch of Christianity that was involved in the campaign? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was small fish in the overall scheme of things. The only reason they were attacked in this is because they were Mormon.

    The 1st Amendment's establishment clause means that the state can't unduly influence the church. Not the other way around. If you want to attack a Christian group for attempting to unduly influence government, you would be better off quoting Jesus: "Then give to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and to God the things which are God's".

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  24. Developers! Developers! Developers!June 27, 2011 at 11:38 PM

    Well, as you say yourself, it's not all that promiscuous to get *married.* This seems more like a reason to oppose people being gay in the first place, something that's both impossible to change and doesn't inherently relate to promiscuity anyway. (And why is it the government's business how promiscuous I am?)
    I think you were able to state what I was trying to say better than I could:
    I think there's also a widespread belief in the otherness of gay people, an impression that homosexuality is some sort of... syndrome of which attraction to the same gender is but one of the symptoms. I think this is where talk of homosexuality as a "lifestyle" comes from--the idea that it represents all sorts of social, sexual, and gender deviances rather than just regular dudes who like dudes and regular ladies who like ladies.
    This explains some of the opposition to gay marriage. There are those who fear that allowing gay marriage will make the values from this "lifestyle" the norm for marriage.



    Who cares? Chastity is a personal decision, not something that requires a "movement."

    Let me lower the bar for you. Can you find even a single commentator that says gays or lesbians should delay sex until marriage? Now, can you find anyone who has the same attitude towards heterosexual couples?

    However, I'm tempted to retract this point. I've created a bit of a circular argument here. If we have no cultural idea of gay marriage how can anyone suggest that gay couples wait until marriage? Yeah, this point is far weaker than I initially though.


    And if you think in your libertarian wisdom that rental car companies shouldn't have to respect everyone's marriage, why don't you take the position that legal marriage should be abolished entirely? That would at least be logically consistent. Otherwise, you're saying that the state should get to dictate that special privileges be given to those who choose to marry, _and_ saying that not everyone should be allowed to choose to marry.

    I'm not a libertarian on all issues. I think the state has a vested interest in protecting family. I fail to see any logical inconstancy between allowing people to do business with or refuse give business to whomever they want and having some state recognition of marriage and/or registered domestic partnerships.


    You think a decade is recent enough to justify "still being doubtful" that we're serious _at all_? How many decades would it take for us to freaking convince you?

    Yes, the No on 8 campaign was badly handled. But I still don't see why you think "people should just quit being assholes because it's _about damn time_ already" isn't as good a reason for marriage equality as "we queers really do have feelings and morals, honest!"

    This isn't really a matter of time but a matter of attitude. Many of those argueing in favor of gay marriage are putting the burden of proof on those who are opposed to gay marriage. This was the whole argument that the 'no on 8' side presented in the federal case. Regardless of how that works legally, I think this is the wrong attitude to have. You are the ones asking for a change in our culture, to have an entirely new legal right allocated to you. Remember, gay marriage is something that did not exist for nearly all of human history. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad (or good), but it does mean the burden of proof on is on you. It's up to you to convince people like me that gay marriage is good for society as a whole.

    Now, I happen to believe that gay marriage can good for marriage and good for society. It all comes down to what individual couples make of it.

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  25. You are the ones asking for a change in our culture, to have an entirely new legal right allocated to you.

    ...I guess, if you're coming from the perspective that "gay marriage" is a thing that has NEVER BEFORE EXISTED ZOMG. The way I see it, we're not looking for "gay marriage"; we just freakin' want marriage, which is not a new thing at all. It's not like we'd need some kind of massive societal infrastructure change.

    When all we want is for a certain group of people to no longer be treated differently, we're asking that existing structures be made simpler, not more complex. And if you think the burden of proof is on those who want to change things, why weren't you adamantly opposed to Prop. 8? Seeing as how, y'know, California seemed to be surviving all its already-existing gay marriages just fine, and you wouldn't have thought a constitutional amendment was necessary to fix something that wasn't broken.

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  26. Can you find even a single commentator that says gays or lesbians should delay sex until marriage?

    Yes: http://tinyurl.com/a2w6e

    To start, Jim Crow Laws required private enterprises to segregate their accommodations. They infringed on the freedom of people who wish to operate non-segregated facilities just as much as anti-segregation laws infringe on the rights of those who want to operate segregated businesses.

    Ok, let's just do a quick reality check, to make sure we're all on the same page (or at least in the same chapter): Do you think that there should be laws prohibiting businesses like bus companies and lunch counters from discriminating against/segregating black people? Because if you don't - if you think these businesses should be free to discriminate as they see fit, just like in the good old days of the 1950s - then that would be an argument that would probably have to precede the one we're having here, if we're going to make any sense to each other at all.

    This explains some of the opposition to gay marriage. There are those who fear that allowing gay marriage will make the values from this "lifestyle" the norm for marriage.

    Ok, perhaps Holly should've said, "there's also a widespread and completely false and bigoted belief in the otherness of gay people...the idea that it represents all sorts of social, sexual, and gender deviances rather than just regular dudes who like dudes and regular ladies who like ladies."

    That's why we view opposition to gay marriage based on fear of the "gay lifestyle" invading regular marriage to be an example of bigotry...because it is.

    Remember, gay marriage is something that did not exist for nearly all of human history. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad (or good), but it does mean the burden of proof on is on you. It's up to you to convince people like me that gay marriage is good for society as a whole.

    Ok, fine:

    1) Prohibiting gay marriage denies people civil rights based on their sexual orientation.
    2) Denying people civil rights based on their sexual orientation is bad.
    3) Therefore, prohibiting gay marriage is bad.

    That was a real tough one.

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  27. @Developers:

    "That takes a lot of ignoring the obvious. Where were the ads attacking the black churches that voted overwhelmingly for prop 8? For for that matter, any other branch of Christianity that was involved in the campaign? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was small fish in the overall scheme of things. The only reason they were attacked in this is because they were Mormon."

    Well, for starters, those black churches were also in California. A lot of the Mormon churches campaigning for Prop 8, however, were in Utah. It's one thing to post on the Internet, "I think State Law X in another state should/shouldn't pass," and quite another thing to fund a vicious campaign for/against State Law X, to be aired on television in that other state. If you don't see the difference, I honestly pity your lack of discernment.

    As for Jim Crow, the problem wasn't "omg different restaurants." The problem was that a group of people was systematically denied equal treatment under the law. Substitute gender or sexual orientation for race and discrimination is still equally wrong. Bigotry is bigotry.

    Re: "protecting families":
    Gay marriage has been legal in Denmark since 1987. That's almost a quarter of a century. Please show me how the average Danish family is now worse off than in 1983, and prove that it was gay marriage that did it. Otherwise, I will refuse to acknowledge "protecting families" as anything other than the obvious misdirecting that it is. Gay people have families too, after all.

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  28. Developers - It seems inconsistent to me to be opposed to government interference in how insurance, rental, etc. companies do business, and at the same time concerned with the promiscuity, chastity, and "values" of individuals.

    One of the great things about America, and rather specifically enumerated in our founding documents, is that if I don't infringe upon the rights of others, I can have whatever values I want. I can value group sex, flag-burning, flat earth conspiracy theories, and sacrifices of Fancy Feast to the goddess Bastet... so long as I don't enforce upon anyone else how I'd like them to live.

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  29. Other people have made the bigger points already, and probably better than I would. But because it's often brought up, I want to point out that this is just completely false:

    Remember, gay marriage is something that did not exist for nearly all of human history.

    A huge variety of cultures throughout human history have had gay marriages or things like gay marriage. Off the top of my head I can point you to John Boswell's Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, which covers marriage-like rituals and institutionalized relationships between same-sex couples from, as it says, ancient Greece through medieval Europe. For something you actually want to just sit down and read, check out this post at Asexual Curiosities about the "Boston Marriage:"

    http://asexualcuriosities.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/pax-victoriana/

    Sadly I really only know about Europe and America, but I'm sure there's research on this kind of thing in other places out there. I suppose you could call all these relationships something more like civil unions or common-law marriages, but I think the point stands that this is not new. We just want to recognize legally what has often been customary.

    If you're interested in historicity and tradition, I think what's actually most relevant is how much heterosexual marriage and family has changed in the last hundred years. Americans (and the English) didn't expect their spouses to be the primary emotional relationship of their life until about 1910-1920 ish in general. Of course this blog shows that plenty of people today don't expect romance to be a single relationship. But I think we can agree that the ideal of an opposite-sex spouse is a soulmate, rather than a charming fellow who provides for and impregnates you, while you have your closest relationships with female friends. Hetero marriage is already done on the basis that love makes a family, and the cultural heavy lifting to get there has already been done by and for traditional marriages. Gay marriage is just the logical tail end of the shift towards companionate marriage.

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  30. It's up to you to convince people like me that gay marriage is good for society as a whole.

    I'm still waiting for someone to convince me that straight marriage is good for society as a whole. I've been wracking my brains and I cannot think of anything that the little governmental piece of paper accomplishes that can't also be accomplished by me telling my partner, "Let's move in together permanently."

    In fact, I feel as though marriage quite possibly sets relationships up for failure, but that's a long tangent for another time.

    I want gay marriage to be legal because I'm in favour of fairness and equality, but personally, I'd be just as happy if we got rid of marriage altogether. If people want to celebrate their relationship with another person, they can feel free to announce their love in front of all their friends and throw a party; let the government stay out of it.

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  31. Developers:

    So, in essence, the government shouldn't be concerned about the ethics and/or discriminatory policies of BUSINESSES, but should be very concerned about the sexual behavior of individuals?

    As someone else said, YOU FAIL LIBERTARIANISM.

    You're sort of assuming that everyone is Christian, or at least that everyone views Christian morality as something that they aspire to even if they fail to achieve it in some way or another.

    I was not chaste until marriage. I made no effort whatsoever to be chaste until I married, and I do not consider this a moral failing on my part; I don't think there's anything particularly wonderful about virginity or particularly horrible about promiscuity. They're just different choices/states of being.

    I do not consider my monogamous relationship superior to the relationships of poly people. I do not consider my heterosexual relationship superior to the relationships of gay and bi people. I generally don't consider other people's romantic and/or sexual relationships to be any of my damn business, and I really wish the government would do the same.

    Or, in short, embrace the spirit of libertarianism and MYOB.

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  32. My personal dream:

    A federally-recognized contract whereby any number of consenting adults, regardless of gender and/or genital configuration, may enter, thereby setting up a legal union which grants rights and privileges amenable to creating a stable household, including a system by which to share assets and ensure proper family rights (i.e. hospital visitation rights, inheritance, etc.) and a standardized and fair way of legally solving asset, resource, or custody disputes amongst the household members.

    I know some people say "Why bother, then, and just throw marriage out altogether," but having set up households with various people, some of whom I was romantically involved with and some not...having a legally-binding way of sharing assets makes everything A LOT easier. So I personally would like to keep it as an option.

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  33. Nobody: I forgot about hospital visitation rights and inheritance issues...I can see how those could make marriage an attractive thing.

    Although, those are perks for individuals...I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why marriage benefits society as a whole...

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  34. I like Nobody's personal dream.

    I suspect that marriage -- any kind of marriage, be it hetero, gay, a poly group, whatever -- benefits society because numbers (in a marriage) allow for a little more stability (i.e., if the adult in a one-adult household becomes ill/loses a job/whatever, that household can destabilize pretty easily; a two-or-more-adult household can 'lose an engine,' so to speak, and often keep going in a relatively stable way).

    And I believe that the higher the number of stable households, the lower the number of people who might end up needing financial assistance from society, as there are always some households wherein an adult is facing a health or job crisis, etc. So that would be the theoretical benefit to society.

    That said, I completely support single-adult households, too -- I wouldn't demand they become two-adult households (again, of any orientation) simply for the financial convenience to society any more than I'd demand all the two-adult households merge into poly, three-adult-or-more households (although that might make for a more interesting society; it'd certainly screw up my neighborhood, in a fun way).

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  35. Yeah, but Jack...what does legal marriage accomplish toward "stability" that isn't accomplished by just shackin' up with someone (or someones)?

    And the fact that many households need more than one working member in order for everyone to have a decent standard of living doesn't scream "people should get married!" to me, it screams "Food and housing should be cheap enough for a single person (or single parent) to afford!"

    I dunno. It's just funny to me that the people who oppose gay marriage usually believe 1) that men and women getting legally hitched does something important for society and 2) that same-sex couples getting legally hitched would do something bad to society...and I can't understand either of these points. At all.

    And even if straight marriage does do some amazing thing for society (I'm still waiting to be convinced of this), then gay marriage would, too - because if marriage is awesome and beneficial, and gay marriages mean more marriage in the world, then yay!

    I speak as someone who's been divorced, btw. I know firsthand that marriage doesn't guarantee stability; it just makes you feel even more shitty and guilty when you want to break up.

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  36. Yeah, but Jack...what does legal marriage accomplish toward "stability" that isn't accomplished by just shackin' up with someone (or someones)?

    The aforementioned inheritance rights, plus health insurance, tax breaks -- a bunch of socially-based financial processes that I think let married couples weather crises more easily, hence be more stable ('less likely to end up eating dog food and/or homeless,' etc.). And the more stable family units out there, the less strain on society's social safety nets, so society is more financially stable. I don't think any kind of moral stability can be claimed, or even exists, relative to marriage, of course.

    it screams "Food and housing should be cheap enough for a single person (or single parent) to afford!"

    SHOULD be, true. But ISN'T, currently -- and so folks pursue the financial benefits they can acquire through the legal ceremony; can't say I blame them, I'm married and benefit from them myself.

    And even if straight marriage does do some amazing thing for society (I'm still waiting to be convinced of this), then gay marriage would, too - because if marriage is awesome and beneficial, and gay marriages mean more marriage in the world, then yay!

    I think you're preaching to the choir, at least for the majority of this blog's audience...

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  37. Developers! Developers! Developers!June 30, 2011 at 5:04 AM

    Well, for starters, those black churches were also in California. A lot of the Mormon churches campaigning for Prop 8, however, were in Utah. It's one thing to post on the Internet, "I think State Law X in another state should/shouldn't pass," and quite another thing to fund a vicious campaign for/against State Law X, to be aired on television in that other state. If you don't see the difference, I honestly pity your lack of discernment.
    And I pity your vicious religious bigotry. If you take a close look at your calendar, you will notice that this is NOT the year 1847. There are Mormons outside of Utah. In fact, there are lots of Mormons outside of Utah, like nearly 3% of the California population. Admittedly, they are not the most popular branch of Christianity in California, but you seem to suggest that simply don't exist, or that if they do exist they have no right to speak.


    Gay marriage has been legal in Denmark since 1987. That's almost a quarter of a century. Please show me how the average Danish family is now worse off than in 1983, and prove that it was gay marriage that did it. Otherwise, I will refuse to acknowledge "protecting families" as anything other than the obvious misdirecting that it is. Gay people have families too, after all.

    Well, they do have higher rates of out-of-wedlock births. However, I don't think that's caused by, or even correlated with the legalization of gay marriage. I should also point out that only ~5% of gays and lesbians in some of the European countries that have legalized gay marriage acctually get married. However, that in and of itself isn't necessarily a reason ban gay marriage. This may be a chicken-and-egg thing, like I mentioned regarding the issue of pre-marital chastity.

    What's interesting about that last statement (Gay people have families too, after all.) is the effect it has on a lot of the conservative commentary on the subject. If you read this column with that world-view, you find that most of the author's arguments against gay marriage work just as well as arguments in favor of gay marriage.

    This is also why this is a better argument than phrasing this as a civil rights issue. It allows for reasoned debate on what is the best policy. It addresses the opposition on their own terms very well.

    More to come later, but it's 2:00 AM here...

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  38. Developers - Whoa. It's not "vicious religious bigotry" to say that a lot (no one said all!) of Mormons are in Utah.

    As for out-of-wedlock births, chastity, and families--frankly, I think they're irrelevant. I don't care if gay marriage is good for society (I suspect its effect is pretty much neutral, actually); it's the right of Americans to be treated equally under the law, and doing a cost-benefit analysis is unnecessary. We don't ask ourselves "is practicing Mormonism the best thing for society?" before deciding to allow it; we say "people have the right to practice whatever religion they want in this country."

    (As an unchaste, childless person born out of wedlock, I'll admit I'm also a little ticked at being seen as a societal harm.)

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  39. Developers:

    There are more Mormons in Utah than in California. That's not religious bigotry, it's reality. The effort to support Prop 8 was funded and staffed in huge part by the Mormon church, which came perilously close to overstepping its bounds as a political entity.

    I don't really have a problem with the LDS, but I'm pretty fucking sick of the way some members are re-framing a legitimate distaste for their extremely focused and organized campaign against LGBT rights as 'religious bigotry'.

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  40. Developers! Developers! Developers!July 1, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    I'll get back to the Mormon stuff in a moment.

    re: Role of government.
    I think I slightly misspoke. I feel that both promoting chastity and eliminating discrimination are valid state goals. However, I feel that the state is limited in the actions it is allowed to take in furthering these goals. I have no problem with having a non-discrimination clause in Government contracts with private industry. I do have a problem with sending guys with guns in to prevent me from discriminating against whomever. Similarly, I have no problem with telling our youth that "true love wait", but I most certainly do not want guys with guns attempting to prevent sex between consenting adults.

    You're sort of assuming that everyone is Christian, or at least that everyone views Christian morality as something that they aspire to even if they fail to achieve it in some way or another.

    I was not chaste until marriage. I made no effort whatsoever to be chaste until I married, and I do not consider this a moral failing on my part; I don't think there's anything particularly wonderful about virginity or particularly horrible about promiscuity. They're just different choices/states of being.

    I can say for sure that, religion has nothing to do with my values. For one, I don't belong to any organized religion. I'm somewhere an agnostic and a deist.

    I simply think holding to these values will help me lead a happier, better life. I think that others would be better off if they did the same. It's a purely Utilitarian argument.


    There are more Mormons in Utah than in California. That's not religious bigotry, it's reality. The effort to support Prop 8 was funded and staffed in huge part by the Mormon church, which came perilously close to overstepping its bounds as a political entity.

    Well, first I dispute the facts. The LDS Church itself only provided in-kind support. Use of facilities and the like. This means that the bulk of campaigning done by Mormons was done by individuals. By saying that's excessive out-of-state influence, you are saying that individual Mormons have no right to speak.


    I don't really have a problem with the LDS, but I'm pretty fucking sick of the way some members are re-framing a legitimate distaste for their extremely focused and organized campaign against LGBT rights as 'religious bigotry'.

    And I am also sick of the gay marriage advocates who are re-framing a legitimate distaste for gay marriage as 'bigotry'.

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  41. There is no legitimate reason to be distasteful of gay marriage. There are legitimate reasons to want marriage as a legal construction abolished altogether, but there are no legitimate reasons to confine that desire to gay marriage. In a dozen comments on this thread, you have yet to come up with anything more compelling than the amorphous 'family values' argument.

    As far as I can tell, your argument boils down to 'I don't want the government telling me who I can discriminate against, but I'm totally cool with the government promoting an arbitrary set of moral standards because they happen to suit me.'

    To put it simply, that's bullshit.

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  42. Developers! Developers! Developers!July 2, 2011 at 3:57 AM

    There is no legitimate reason to be distasteful of gay marriage. There are legitimate reasons to want marriage as a legal construction abolished altogether, but there are no legitimate reasons to confine that desire to gay marriage. In a dozen comments on this thread, you have yet to come up with anything more compelling than the amorphous 'family values' argument.
    Because, I haven't even really attempted to present an argument against gay marriage in and of itself in this thread. It's a bit like saying that a sports car sucks for four-wheeling. Sure, but, that's not what it was intended to do.

    Simply put, saying that there's "there is no legitimate reason" to oppose gay marriage speaks of of your own ignorance. Go out and read some opposing views. Also, please define "legitimate" in this context.

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  43. I normally oppose homosexual marriage. Not necessarily because I think it makes bad policy, but because of the attitudes and methods of those who support it. We hear lots of talk about little trivialities that are not matters of state policy in the slightest, like rental cars and health insurance. Where is talk of honor and commitment? Where is the gay/lesbian chastity movement? Why are the Prop. 8 opponents such bigots? And, why are they using courts and the government to force a cultural change down our throats

    There are those who fear that allowing gay marriage will make the values from this "lifestyle" the norm for marriage.

    Fine. You haven't attempted to present an argument against gay marriage; you've simply tried to characterize the arguments of those who are opposed to gay marriage as totally reasonable and understandable and not even slightly based on homophobia or an extremely narrow-minded and Christian-focused concept of what is best for this country.

    You're right. I meant 'rational'.

    I have read opposing views. Most of the opposing views boil down to one or more of the following:

    1. Homosexuality is a mental illness, and we shouldn't legitimate the behavior of the mentally ill.

    2. God says marriage is between a man and a woman.

    2. EWWW ANAL SEX IS SOOOOO GROSSSS.

    3. I don't want my tax dollars paying for benefits for even more people.

    4. If we allow gay marriage, we'll be allowing poly marriages next. Or incest. Or people marrying their dogs.

    5. We just want to keep traditional marriage the way it's always been.

    6. If we allow gay marriage, churches will have to start performing gay marriages even if they don't agree with them and we will have to teach our children about gay sex.

    7. Marriage as an institution is antiquated/pointless/none of the government's goddamn business.

    Number 3 is a rational argument, I suppose, but it's also a profoundly selfish one that boils down to 'I've got mine, fuck you all'. Number 7 is an argument against any kind of marriage. The rest of the arguments are either factually incorrect or entirely irrelevant to public policy.

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