Gay Marriage is Good for Your State

Andrew Sullivan goes after the canard that legalizing gay marriage might spike divorce rates in the United States:

Washington State’s divorce rate [where gay marriage is already legal] is lower than Idaho’s [where it’s not]; divorce rates across the country have fallen in the decade when marriage equality became a burning issue; the first gay marriage state, Massachusetts, has the lowest divorce rate in the country […]

Any other excuses for opposing gay marriage?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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11 Responses to Gay Marriage is Good for Your State

  1. Staffan says:

    You’d have to adjust for socio-economic status since poor people divorce more often and the states allowing it are rich. Although personally I don’t think the divorce rate matters; it’s consenting adults making their own decisions. My problem is with adoptions, because then they might end up hurting a third party.

    And their is something anti free speech about rallying against other people’s opinions. It’s not exactly in the spirit of Voltaire.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Calling attention to the political activities and statements of others, and calling for boycotts of a business in bed with right wing causes, is itself free speech. What would be anti-freedom is if protesters sought a legal ban on their opponents’s political practices.

      • Staffan says:

        Yes, I understand that distinction, and that’s why I used words like “something anti free speech” and “in the spirit of Voltaire”. They are not technically stifling free speech they are just making a lot of noise and disturbing people who are having dinner. That is not a great day for free speech. Its just a milder version of what the Westboro Baptist Church are doing.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Are you equating those who are trying to prevent, by force of law, gay people from marrying with those who are pointing to their activity?

        If a dentist in your community, for example, gives ten thousand dollars to an anti-gay group for advertising, and you learn of this and are poor or middle class, how might you tell others in large numbers except by standing outside his or her place of business and handing out, say, a flyer or holding a sign? Would Voltaire really think such speech contrary to the Enlightenment? Would he tell the protester to go home and stop bothering people on their way to the dentist? Maybe some of those people on their way to that particular dentist might wish to bring their business to someone who doesn’t use their money in this way. In any event, so long as the protester isn’t blocking access to the door, people are free to regard or disregard the message of the protester.

        By your principle, the dentist, by virtue of his wealth, gets to purchase 10,000 dollars in free speech for his cause while the less wealthy have no (ethical) way to speak back to the dentist or interact with the dentist via any public forum of any sort.

        My position is that no adult gets that sort of anonymity in a democracy. If you enter political discourse with your money or voice, you ought to enter it in such a way that people can speak back to you and appeal to others concerning you and your activity.

        And just as no adult in a free society has the right to the expectation that he or she will never encounter a message that might offend him or her during the day, so no adult has the right to the expectation that he or she will never encounter a political appeal in route to the door of a business.

        If you agree that Muslims (for example) should tolerate in their passing on a city street an image of Muhammad, then you should agree that someone should tolerate restaurant protesters.on the way to lunch. And you should also agree that if you enter the public realm, you should do so openly, as yourself.

        –Santi

  2. Staffan says:

    “Are you equating those who are trying to prevent, by force of law, gay people from marrying with those who are pointing to their activity?”

    No, Im not. I’m pointing out the similarities in how they use freedom of expression to harass people rather than to express their opinion. I was referring to form, not content.

    “If a dentist in your community, for example, gives ten thousand dollars to an anti-gay group for advertising, and you learn of this and are poor or middle class, how might you tell others in large numbers except by standing outside his or her place of business and handing out, say, a flyer or holding a sign? Would Voltaire really think such speech contrary to the Enlightenment? Would he tell the protester to go home and stop bothering people on their way to the dentist? Maybe some of those people on their way to that particular dentist might wish to bring their business to someone who doesn’t cess to the door, people are free to regard or disregard the message of the protester.”

    Can’t you see that when they blow those horns, encourage cars driving by to do the same and generally disturb the customers, that these might take their business elsewhere simply because they want to have some peace and quiet while they are having lunch? This is using free speech for financial blackmail. How might they tell others? Well, they can have a rally somewhere else, they can quietly hand out fliers, they can use something called the internet, a lot of people are doing it these days.

    “By your principle, the dentist, by virtue of his wealth, gets to purchase 10,000 dollars in free speech for his cause while the less wealthy have no (ethical) way to speak back to the dentist or interact with the dentist via any public forum of any sort.”

    It’s called free speech, not free interaction. And they can still speak back as much as they like – handing out fliers, campaigning in other public places and the internet.

    “My position is that no adult gets that sort of anonymity in a democracy. If you enter political discourse with your money or voice, you ought to enter it in such a way that people can speak back to you and appeal to others concerning you and your activity.”

    And they still can without doing it in the one way that hurts their business.

    “And just as no adult in a free society has the right to the expectation that he or she will never encounter a message that might offend him or her during the day, so no adult has the right to the expectation that he or she will never encounter a political appeal in route to the door of a business.”

    I never said that anyone has the right to be free of exposure to the opinion of others, nor does it follow from what I’ve said. I said that harassing people is a bad way to use free speech. Or is the fact that they most likely scare away customers who want to eat their lunch in an relaxed environment just a happy accident?

    “If you agree that Muslims (for example) should tolerate in their passing on a city street an image of Muhammad, then you should agree that someone should tolerate restaurant protesters.on the way to lunch. And you should also agree that if you enter the public realm, you should do so openly, as yourself.”

    On the way to lunch or on a city street is anywhere, so obviously yes in both cases. While at lunch is my objection. That way they can hurt their business and force them to change their policy. A group of angry Muslims could protest outside you lecture hall and scare off your students. Would that also be ok?

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      In most cases, I don’t support anyone disrupting commerce (blocking city traffic, preventing entry to a building, using a bullhorn outside of a restaurant).

      That’s why the Occupy movement is ill named. It can be leftist totalitarian at that level where it doesn’t respect passage and conscience.

      But in the fifties and sixties when a black man sat at a white counter in the South or a black woman sat at the front of a bus in protest of segregation, that was “disrupting commerce” in a way that certainly was justified, don’t you agree?

      And any time a mass movement leads a march through a city, people will be disrupted in the course of their day. That’s part of democracy.

      As for protesters outside of my classroom, I would try to make it a teachable moment at some level.

      –Santi

      • Staffan says:

        I’m ambivalent when it comes to Rosa Parks and civil disobediance. It may seem harmless in that instance but it sends a signal that politics should be decided in the street. That period saw a huge increase in violent crime, a lot of it was political in nature. Others may have been inspired to commit crimes under a sense of entitlement. I recently spoke to a leftist – an adult man – who thought the lootings after the storm Katrina were justified. To him it was a matter of social justice. It’s a complicated issue.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        The problem with leaving no rough edges to democracy is that it is so easily controlled in most forums by elite interests. Street theater and protest are avenues of action for the poor and middle class. For you to suggest that most expression should be moved to the internet, for example, is troubling because it’s a space in which money can talk far louder than some lone person with a blog.

        What a Wall Street banker can’t manage in terms of public relations is a person or persons outside of a doorway in New York holding a sign or passing out news of a political rally at a public park. Mass movements are a counter to money in a capitalist democracy. The sit-in is a form of refusing to be left at the margins even though you don’t have money to influence politicians or buy advertising or public relations representation.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        And the other reality is that we live in an age of propaganda (public relations is propaganda; political campaigns are propaganda machines; advertising is propaganda). Free speech in large democracies in practice translates into freedom to engage in propaganda and spend unlimited funds on it. This marginalizes the poor and middle class. One way to break through the rich generated static is via theatre (starting a movement that draws attention and presents a narrative).

  3. Staffan says:

    I don’t mean exclusively to the internet, only to places where you don’t simultaneously have your say and hurt or intimidate the other party. But the internet is a great and equalizing venue. For instance, the anti-immigration party here in Sweden has been banned from MSM and other official channels for years, but grew nonetheless using the internet. They now have around 10 percent according to most polls. Their street protests were never succesful because they were not reported about and they were physically attacked by extreme lefties. Regardless of what you think about them, they didn’t have money, only the internet, and this movement is similar throughout Europe. And in America, if it was only a matter of funds then the Republicans would probably win more elections.

    I rather see the Chick-Fil-A intimidation strategy as a sign of desperation from White liberals who are facing the social conservatism from people lower on the social ladder than themselves. You can see that the protesters in the clip are much whiter than the supporters. And LGBT Californians are probably not poor/middle class – more like rich/upper middle class.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Pat Boone, old rich white dude, was in the Chick-Fil-A crowd. And those who rallied people to go to the restaurant were from the fabulously wealthy pop media crowd (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc.).

      And if gay people are on average a bit better off than the average American financially it still means that the vast majority of them belong to the middle classes, not the wealthy.

      And those who came out to buy a sandwich also disrupted the average restaurant goer (who found herself in a long line).

      Let’s face it: both sides were out and it was a party, a spectacle, with both groups having an amusing time. It was relatively innocent political theatre with both groups knowing exactly where all of this was going regardless (to the Supreme Court).

      –Santi

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