Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The mathematics of marriage

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  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Moz,

    For that matter, not everyone wishing to engage in a same-sex marriage is gay or lesbian, and it is a bit annoying to subsume those other identities into that when discussing this issue.

    Graeme: yeah. But I don’t think anyone was denying that the long run goal was full equality, just that the bill under discussion reached that.

    (By the way guys, this is actually hilarious/depressing. Apparently state recognition of same-sex marriage = the Test Acts. The centuries of oppression aimed at queer folx, that's not even worth mentioning.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1251 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    Through this bill we are widening our society's official sanction of types of relationships, and I am in favour of widening it to same-sex marriage. However, at some point people will draw a line, maybe at polygamy, beyond which they are uncomfortable. The debate will be interesting, but it is important to argue about the matter at hand. It doesn't make sense to turn the debate about same sex marriage into one about polygamy (which is what McKroskie is try to do). Notice the lack of any reference to a "slippery slope argument" in this statement. "Strawman" or "red herring" might be better terms to use.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Graeme: yeah. But I don’t think anyone was denying that the long run goal was full equality, just that the bill under discussion reached that.

    I think there were people denying it. It may have been dissembling, but it was there. I recall a fair bit going on when the bill to define marriage as being between a man and a woman had its first reading as well. The suggestion that the bill was unnecessary because marriage was already between opposite sex couples, and that that was what marriage was and everyone knew it certainly featured.

    Some of the opposition to this bill also has included that idea. I think David Clark's first reading speech included a statement from a person in a same-sex civil union who was opposed to allowing same-sex marriage, that raised something like this.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Euan Mason,

    The debate will be interesting, but it is important to argue about the matter at hand. It doesn’t make sense to turn the debate about same sex marriage into one about polygamy (which is what McKroskie is try to do).

    If someone is really firmly opposed to state recognition of polygamy, and one also believes that allowing same-sex marriage will make the argument against polygamy harder to win when we finally get to it, then it is perfectly logical to oppose same-sex marriage.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    And yes, I do love being a dirty incrementalist

    Like Russel, a lot of them are incrementalists. Take this step, then find a core of marriage-equality proponents who are not strict monogamists to keep the battle rolling.

    Which is precisely the slippery slope that McCroskie is talking about. Just because it's an invalid argument doesn't mean that it won't go that way.

    I think Graeme even made this kind of point on Dimpost. Don't admit to being an incrementalist, it lends warrant to the slippery slope (the hypothesis of the slope itself in this case, not the point that the argument is of this form - see how confusing the analogy is?).

    I'm inclined to just say "yeah, I'm an incrementalist, and if it is a slippery slope, then great", but then I'm not trying to get gay marriage through*, so I keep quiet out of respect too. But I'm mindful of Graeme's point - no one is really fooled, at least not about my opinion. I'm a liberal, and this is the sort of thing it means.

    *ETA Gah! By which I don't mean I'm opposed to gay marriage, or even ambivalent. I'm very much in favour! But I don't have a dog in the fight, is what I'm saying. I can see why people want to see that one onto the bat before worrying about the next volley.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8009 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Yeah I would not hold any of those speeches up as exemplars of bold honesty about political goals. But they are accurate: the Government wasn't changing marriage, it was just doing a thing that would make changing marriage later easier.

    I'm not super invested in this one, but in general I think most people saw civil unions as an incremental step towards full equality.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1251 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    What is marriage equality?

    To me, the ability of anyone who can give informed consent to marry anyone who is also capable.

    That's the core requirement for any contract, and I haven't been persuaded that any of the other requirements make sense. I realise that's a huge jump, because our society isn't really on board with consent as a requirement in general, and informed consent is almost unheard of. So I favour incrementally knocking away silly requirements whenever we can.

    (consent is one of those things that legal theorists like to drag out when they've run out of other arguments, but it's a weak consent barely better than the Hobbsian "obey me and I will refrain from killing you")

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • anth,

    From section 2 of the Family Proceedings Act 1980:

    marriage includes a union in the nature of marriage that—
    (a) is entered into outside New Zealand; and
    (b) is at any time polygamous,—
    where the law of the country in which each of the parties is domiciled at the time of the union then permits polygamy

    Since Nov 2006 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    If someone is really firmly opposed to state recognition of polygamy, and one also believes that allowing same-sex marriage will make the argument against polygamy harder to win when we finally get to it, then it is perfectly logical to oppose same-sex marriage.

    Not really. It's a possible strategy, at best. If you're opposed to polygamy, but think same sex marriage should be allowed, then even if you think that same sex marriage makes polygamy more likely, you don't have a clear course laid out for you by the impartial majesty of logic. Your ideal situation is that one passes and the other doesn't, so allowing same sex marriage is a possible strategy too. It really depends on how strongly you feel about each, and how closely connected you think they are, and how much you think one can be opposed/blocked despite the other, and indeed it depends on a whole lot of your ideals and principles about things like fairness, justice, process, etc.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8009 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Moz,

    informed consent is almost unheard of

    verily

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15706 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    If someone is really firmly opposed to state recognition of polygamy, and one also believes that allowing same-sex marriage will make the argument against polygamy harder to win when we finally get to it, then it is perfectly logical to oppose same-sex marriage.

    Logical, but with a false premise. The premise that legal same sex marriage will make legalising polygamy easier is false. One might just as well argue that legalising marriage between a man and a woman is a bad idea because it might make legalising same sex marriage easier.

    Someone might oppose McKroskie on the same sex marriage question, but agree with him about polygamy, which of course is what he's counting on when he uses this red herring. If he is logical, then he is also duplicitous. This becomes clearer when you substitute "marriage between a person and a sheep" or "marriage between an adult and a child" for "polygamy" in his argument.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    One might just as well argue that legalising marriage between a man and a woman is a bad idea because it might make legalising same sex marriage easier.

    If there was no such thing as marriage, there could be no same-sex marriage. So it did definitely make it easier. The false step is in saying "therefore, it's a bad idea". The value of conventional marriage would have to have less value in itself than the horror of same-sex marriage for that to be "rational" in the purely utilitarian sense.

    One might vehemently oppose polygamous marriage, and even be quite lukewarm on same-sex marriage, and yet still support it, simply because there are that many people who really want to have a same-sex marriage and yet barely any polygamous folk who are serious about getting married. So the greater good for more people outweighs the "harm" caused by the smaller number (in this simplistic hypothetical utility maximizing scenario).

    I don't think this is a simple debate, really. It's a discussion of strategy, as much as it is about the morality of the situation - I don't think anyone here is particularly horrified by polygamy, but to the practical end of getting progressive laws passed there are different views on the best way, some based strongly on principle, others seeing pragmatism as sounder. But sometimes principle is pragmatic too, so it's not a no-brainer either way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8009 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason, in reply to BenWilson,

    I don’t think anyone here is particularly horrified by polygamy

    I am not horrified by it, but I have no wish for it to be part of our culture. In my view it tends to be associated with patriarchy and yes, I agree that in some utopia it might be only consenting adults with just as many multiple husband marriages as multiple wife ones, but I don't think that's very likely in our current male dominated society.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Coley Tangerina,

    [Longtime listener, first time caller / Russell et al. coaxed me into coming along because of how "polite" ya'll are]

    While my whole argument was not to engage with Family First, I sort of wish someone would interview him on why he's against polygamy when it's positively biblical. And when he inevitably uses slavery as an example of evolving past the social norms of select societies 2000 years ago, I would like to see him blather his way through why that doesn't count for marriage equality. (That's not to say I condone comparisons between civil rights and queer rights...the 'Louisa Wall is the Rosa Parks of our generation' catch cry is misguided and unhelpful).

    Also related, today McCroskrie put out release on arguments against measures to proactively protect women from cervical cancer, which I have yet to see any official HPV vaccine response to. Because it's irrelevant nonsense.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Coley Tangerina,

    Kia ora

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15706 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Coley Tangerina,

    McCroskrie put out release on arguments against measures to proactively protect women from cervical cancer

    "When left untreated"... #GoldenGlobes

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15706 posts Report Reply

  • Coley Tangerina, in reply to Sacha,

    You need to be able to "favourite" things here!

    Wellington • Since Jan 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason, in reply to BenWilson,

    If there was no such thing as marriage, there could be no same-sex marriage. So it did definitely make it easier.

    I disagree that marriage between men and women made same sex marriage easier to implement. In principle there could be a concept of marriage between same sex couples without any example from hetero ones. This is clearly so, because marriage between men and women was invented without any alternative examples. It's obvious that there had to be a concept of marriage for it to be considered, but that's as far as the argument goes.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Coley Tangerina,

    Quite. Russell needs to run a raffle to pay for it to be added. Or tap the pink dollar. Something.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15706 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Coley Tangerina,

    Note the weird reference to Herceptin in there. Also, did you know naked jogging is destroying our moral fabric?

    Since Jul 2008 • 1251 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Herceptin - maybe an attempt to stick a wedge between health conscious older women and the teenagers they're making decisions for? Or a sort of "some of my best friends are female body parts"?

    I would have thought naked jogging is easier on your moral fabric as there's less chafing.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 724 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Also, waffle makers, the four-way ones. Toaster ovens are so mono.

    Anyways, as I have said before, being a queer poly person who is pretty fervent about the whole thing ("activist", meh), this is why I don't actually support marriage as a legal concept, full stop.

    If you want to share finances/property/kids guardianship/power of attorney yadda yadda yadda, then make contracts for each of those things. Maybe it'd make monogamous hets think a bit more what they're getting themselves into as well - I am continually amazed at how ignorant people are about what marriage contracts actually entail.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 414 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose, in reply to Euan Mason,

    In my view it tends to be associated with patriarchy and yes, I agree that in some utopia it might be only consenting adults with just as many multiple husband marriages as multiple wife ones, but I don’t think that’s very likely in our current male dominated society.

    That's a common misconception, not aided by the use of the term "polygamy", which is usually conflated with patriarchal polygyny. Some of it is based on lack of obvious historical precedent; some on (as you mention) the current male-dominated society; and some on the myth that women are "naturally" more monogamous than men.

    I really ought to look for some research, rather than relying on anecdata, but among the people I know who are or have been in long-term polyamorous relationships, more often than not it's the woman* who has a secondary partner or has more adventures outside of the marriage or primary relationship. I've been in two long(ish)-term poly relationship, and in each of those I was the secondary partner to someone who had a primary male partner. I think that if greater legal recognition for multi-partner relationships were to be given (either as "marriage" or as a deconstructed suite of rights and responsibilities), a lot of people would be surprised by the number of people who might take it up, and by the composition of those relationships.

    [*heterormative as fuck, I know, but the discussion has led us here and it's also true for the examples I'm thinking of]

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to TracyMac,

    If you want to share finances/property/kids guardianship/power of attorney yadda yadda yadda, then make contracts for each of those things

    But we're a long way from having that debate. Even Bob McKroskie isn't throwing his toys to that extent. There doesn't seem to be any desire in the borader population to abolish marriage, but the "equal rights" argument holds considerable sway.

    Also, in practice there would be a stock bundle of verbiage for the situation one way or another. In the same way as very few people actually read the terms and conditions in full and obtain legal advice on any areas that are unclear, most people don't bother about the legal foowah around marriage either. So we'd be trading one established set of verbiage for another, similar one, but at great expense.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    If someone..., and one also .., then it is perfectly logical ....

    Good old modus ponens - if a infers b, and a is true...

    Of course, propositional logic has nothing much to say if the premises are ridiculous. Sure, you can make a logical proof, but whether or not the actual argument has merit in a legal or moral/ethical sense is something else entirely.

    As for the remark about "what is marriage equality", come on, disingenuous much?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 414 posts Report Reply

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