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December 30, 2005

Comments

Roy

Did you get my emails?

Robbie

I think you must've sent them to Mal.

Dan

Bottom line is this: whether you think gays can conform to the monogamy thing or not, shouldn't we at least have the right to try?

In other words - just because you're a big old whore doesn't mean I am :)

Robbie

Personally, I'm a strong proponent of monogamy.

But, after many, many years of the monogamy argument, I've given up trying to convince anyone. People will do what they like.

My argument was more "Is marriage suited to most gay male couples?" Monogamy is a part of the equation, but in the other thread, I think the questions of benefits, restrictions, obligations etc. being brought up by the commenters are far more salient to the issue than sexual fidelity.

Jack Malebranche

Bottom line is this: whether you think gays can conform to the monogamy thing or not, shouldn't we at least have the right to try?

You do. Right now.

Dan

Gotcha. Then no, absolutely not ;)

It is interesting - in the few honest-to-god gay male LTRs I know of (over 5 years together, serious comingling of finances and other personal affairs) - there's an almost universal acceptance of an imperfect union. Generally this means negotiating some form of 'permissible adultery.'

Is this because guys just aren't built for monogamy? Or is it because we lack the legal structure that keeps (most of) those straight guys in line? Probably a little of both.

Robbie

There's also the question of the restraining influence of women. Either Jack or NDT noted in the other thread that the dynamics between male-male relationships and male-female are very, very different.

Much of the argument for gay marriage is "Our relationships are the exact same as heterosexual ones!"

Objectively speaking, are they really? Or are we being a little disingenuous in making that assertion?

I don't claim to have the answers to these questions, but it is interesting to debate.

Stephen

In our 18-year relationship, which lacked any public sanction, much less had any definitive role model, we never once discussed being monogamous. The nature of the beast, that is "men," gay or straight, have roving eyes, and often unfulfilled lust. So why invite the boogeyman in? As it turns out, we both had an occasional trist, even a few three-ways. But monogamy was the most prevalent. Would our being "married" have changed any of these dynamics? I doubt it, since we (and friends) spoke as "if" we were married. So, whether or not marriage begets monogamy really isn't relevant, whether one is gay or straight. The WHOLE marriage thing is about equal enititlement. Nothing more, nothing less. Without it, we had to spend a fortune "legalizing" aspects of our relationship that would have been inherent in a marriage. We had some thirty documents to legalized what ordinarily comes with marriage. On one level it was blatantly absurd. On the other, things could have gone miserably arry if we hadn't had those documents in hand.

Bottom Line? The Fourteenth Amendment does not state for "whites" only, much less for "heterosexuals" only. By the Supreme documents of this land, we are ALL entitled to due process and equal protection. That's both the beginning and end of the matter. And if we could have, we would have been "married."

Robbie

Right, but Stephen, aren't you undercutting one of the major arguments for gay marriage? One of the reliable arguments of the religious right in opposing gay marriage is that allowing homosexuals to participate in it would change the institution.

The intent of the institution is monogamy and stability, with benefits intended to encourage the raising of children. That's the intent. No, heterosexuals don't do a very good job of following those tenets themselves, obviously.

However, if gay men aren't even going to pretend to go along with the program, aren't they basically lying to their opponents? Aren't they basically saying "We'd like to officially make marriage a non-monogamous affair. Just give us the health insurance."

That's pretty much admitting to an intent by many gay men of altering a fundamental purpose of the institution. (Again, I concede purpose is not necessarily practice).

Jack Malebranche

Dan - Or is it because we lack the legal structure that keeps (most of) those straight guys in line?

I think that's one of the myths of marriage. Men aren't punished for adultery. They still often do it. They are sometimes punished for it in the terms of a divorce, but if the woman stays, there essentially is no punishment. And straight men have been doing it for years. The difference is that they lie about it.

If my boyfriend ever lied to me about sex with another person, or was sneaking around, he would have Hell to pay. It may even be a deal breaker for each of us, and we both know that. Instead, we let each other know if we're interested in someone else sexually, and more or less, get permission. We're respectful of each other's feelings, and we don't lie to each other. That's a Hell of a lot better than adultery.

I've been told, and I may be wrong--please let me know if I am, that states require certain language in their marriage, which often includes something about fidelity. If this is true, it would concern me that many people (not just homos...I know polyamorous straight couples, or couples that eventually have threesomes, etc.) may be forced to start their marriages off with a public lie.

Dan

Another item to consider is children. More than anything, this is probably what keeps straight males from straying. It's interesting how, among straight couples, divorce either happens early in the process (hello britney) or late in the process (after the kids are all grown up). Only when things are exceptionally messy do you see a straight family broken up. I think once gays are given equal legal footing, including both marriage and adoption rights, you'll see gay relationships become more and more identical to straight relationships. Some people argue that there's some kind of unique dynamic to straight relationships that make them more stable. Baloney. If you removed kids and a legally binding contract from the picture, you'd find those straight boys fooling around just as much as the gay boys.

It's kinda interesting, tho. The more I think about it, the more I realize one thing. Society will probably accept homosexuals as part of normal life before we're able to accept ourselves as being part of 'normal life.'

Jack Malebranche

However, if gay men aren't even going to pretend to go along with the program, aren't they basically lying to their opponents? Aren't they basically saying "We'd like to officially make marriage a non-monogamous affair. Just give us the health insurance."

Excellent point. I'm a stickler for honesty, and gay rights activists tend to take a fundamentally dishonest approach with this. The public face of the movement seems to suggest that there are millions of couples that have exactly the same relationship as traditional marriage, but who are being denied the right to marriage because of their sex alone. The reality is that a great many of these couples are involved in onorthodox sexual arrangements that would make grandma faint, then get up and hobble to the voting booth to object loudly.

The thing about lying is that while people are stupid, they aren't always as stupid as you'd like to think they are. And the gay rights movement is built, in part, on a lot of intentional misinformation, designed to be more palateable to mom and pop. When you lie publicly, a lot of people will believe you, but your smarter enemies will see the chinks in your armor and exploit them, and that is exactly what the religious right is learning to do.

You can't present yourself as a pair of John-Boy Waltons, and then go to your local watering hole, do crystal meth and fist a stranger, without someone eventually putting two and two together. I'm not saying that everyone is doing that. (Fisting? Yikes!! Crystal? Ack!!) But my point is that, as a group, we're not who we say we are, and they know it. So let's cut the bullshit and be honest and practical about what's really going on and what our needs and intentions really are.

For the pro gay marriage & absolute monogamy people, I think the first step would be to create a widespeard movement to promote that behavior among homos, and build a long-standing, solid track record of a MAJORITY of men and women who STRICTLY adhere to that model, and THEN go ask for same sex marriage. To my knowledge, no such movement or majority exists. I also think these people should form there own organizations and speak only on their own behalf, and not on behalf of 'all GLBTQIRPDTSHALDGFE (etc.)' people. They need to break off and represent a specific culture, and practice what they preach.

Jack Malebranche

Dan - Some people argue that there's some kind of unique dynamic to straight relationships that make them more stable.

Well, women tend to want different things from relationships, and from men, than men do. I think that helps, but more than the contract, I think it's the social stigma on adultery that prevents men from straying (when it works). Social stigma are often more powerful than laws in influencing behavior. And also, the fact that women won't tolerate it, while men will naturally be more understanding.

You are correct in saying that kids change everything (except for that straight couple I know where the guy was doing it with a tweaker chick who was squatting in the basement while his wife and kid slept upstairs). It is always worth noting, even though no one likes hearing it, that homosexual pairings are naturally non-reproductive. The vast majority of homosexual couples will never have kids.

North Dallas Thirty

I've been told, and I may be wrong--please let me know if I am, that states require certain language in their marriage, which often includes something about fidelity.

In most cases, I don't think you're required to pledge monogamy to get married; however, the flip side is that I think EVERY state recognizes adultery as grounds for a divorce.

Monogamy in the legal sense is WAY different than it is in the moral/spiritual/personal sense, though. The Supreme Court has pretty much made it clear that the government doesn't have the right to regulate private sexual conduct between two consenting adults (Griswold and Eisenstadt); ergo, sleeping with someone other than your spouse is OK as long as it isn't your son or the 14-year-old babysitter. Thus, within reason, the government doesn't (and shouldn't) care with whom you're coupling physically or mentally, just legally and financially. A man may sleep with two women, but he'd better be claiming only one as his spouse for tax purposes.

The problem with commingling intangibles into a legal transaction is that we can't apply it just one way. If we're going to use intangible reasons as ones for gay marriage, we validate intangible reasons AGAINST gay marriage. It is a source of endless amusement to me to watch Matt Foreman, for instance, rail at people for being "intolerant" when he makes it clear himself that he considers anyone who disagrees with him to be "immoral". In doing so, he turns himself into Jerry Falwell with better hair.

I have reached the point with gay marriage where I think, to make any progress on it, I will personally set up a foundation whose sole purpose is to raise enough money to buy an isolated Pacific island, kidnap the top ten antigay and "pro-gay" community leaders, and put them on it for seven years. If, at the end of that time, they have learned to play nice, they can come home; if not, they can stay another seven years.

And, if you contribute now, I'll cut you in on the reality-show royalties. :)

Dan

Jack, I've always liked the guy who plays the contrarian. Even if I might not agree with him, he at least forces me to consider my own position carefully.

That being said, I think the basic thrust of your argument is bunk. Maybe a vast majority of gays will never adopt, who knows. Maybe a vast majority of gay married couples will remain adulterous. Again, who knows. But the point is there are some gays out there (maybe not a majority, but some) who want to give this whole monogamy/marriage/kids thing a shot. In the name of equality, fairness and just plain decency, I think we owe it to these people to give them that chance. And if they fuck it up, fine. But it should be their right to fuck it up.

Anyway, maybe I'm missing your point. But I also you missed one of my points. You seem to suggest that there's some kind of social stigma that keeps straight men from straying. Where do you think that stigma came from? From years and years of social acceptance of one-man, one-woman straight marriage (including official government sanction and support). If you rewind the clock a few hundred years, you'd see a completely different picture of marriage emerging. Take that same clock and fast forward it a few hundred years (after gay marriage has presumably become a big non-affair), and I think you'll see the same social stigmas attached to gay marriage.

Jack Malebranche

Gan - Take that same clock and fast forward it a few hundred years (after gay marriage has presumably become a big non-affair), and I think you'll see the same social stigmas attached to gay marriage.

Wow, your crystal ball is so much clearer than mine is.

But one could only assume, then, that perhaps by then, 50% of homosexuals, too, will be able to make that arrangement work. In the interim, I think the percentage will be far lower.

And you can't compare modern marriage with marriage from 200 years ago. Apples and oranges. The reason marriage used to 'work' is because women essentially had no way out and no way to support themselves if they could get out. Marriage between equals is a new and radical concept.

While my whole argument, based on contemporary reality, is apparently 'bunk,' your seems to be based entirely of some utopian vision of what 'must certainly' happen after homosexuals are given the benefit of the doubt.

My response to that is, don't just ask to be given something. Earn it. We're a generation away from the full on hedonism of the 70s. Homosexuals have not, by any stretch of the imagination, established a reliable track record demonstrating or even a particular propensity for strict monogamy.

Here's a common expression you may have heard in reference to homosexual relationships:

"gay years"

It's common for a reason. Relationships between homosexual men are notoriously short lived.

Oh, and I'm not 'playing the contrarian.' I'm serious. There are serious problems with same-sex marriage that have not been addressed and are hardly being discussed. And yet we're all supposed to shut up and agree that it is 'best for all of us.'

hank

NDT great post. I'm half tempted to send you a donation right now.

Oh, but there is that "forsaking all others'clause. Not legal, I realize. But it puts the pressure on.

hank

Jack, I've heard CPT (don't ask) but never "gay years".

Jack Malebranche

Jack, I've heard CPT (don't ask) but never "gay years".

Really? Wow, I've heard it in a lot of different places over the years, kinda like the "gay face" discussed in a different thread. It usually goes something like:

"You guys just broke up after 3 months? Wow, that's like 9 months in gay years... you must be a wreck."

Dan

Again, you miss my point. The larger point is that nobody knows what the future will look like. The reason I bring up the past (and speculate on the future) is just to show that society's definition of marriage has changed over the years, as has society's definition of 'normal.' There's no reason why society couldn't adapt the institution of marriage to include gays. We also need to recognize that marriage isn't just driven by basic biological urges (woman = nester; man = hunter) or social norms (marriage is one man and one woman), but is in fact a complicated interplay of the two and will invariably change over time. So why not just allow gays to marry and see what happens? As a free citizen of this country, I feel I'm entitled to at least give it a shot.

hank

so what does "gay face" mean?

Dan

My response to that is, don't just ask to be given something. Earn it. We're a generation away from the full on hedonism of the 70s. Homosexuals have not, by any stretch of the imagination, established a reliable track record demonstrating or even a particular propensity for strict monogamy.

Huh? Are you saying if we're really, really good and say pretty, pretty please the straights will let us partake in 'their' institution of marriage? Fuck that. Marriage isn't 'theirs' to 'protect.' Like I said, it's a basic institution that will continue to adapt and change right alongside society itself.

Jack Malebranche

Dan - So why not just allow gays to marry and see what happens? As a free citizen of this country, I feel I'm entitled to at least give it a shot.

Does that really sound like a compelling argument to you?

"I want it, so let's give it a whirl and see what happens?"

Do you see why that might sound a little weak to most people? (and by most, I mean the people in many states who overwhelmingly voted against that very idea...)

As you said, there's no reason why society couldn't adapt the idea of marriage to include homosexual relationships. But the word that I would pick out there is 'adapt,' and that's exactly what I'm suggesting. Adapt it to suit the actual nature of the relationship, rather than trying to jam the relationship into an ancient institution that was never designed for two men. Why that new adaptation needs to be called marriage for people to be satisfied, I'm sure I don't know.

My point is why not work with what we already know about men and how they interact together and consider that when we 'adapt' this marriage thing.

Homosexuality will never be completely normal. The Greeks institutionalized it, and even they had to make arguments in its defense, and what kind of relationships were permitted were severely restricted. you could lose citizenship for breaking the rules. The general thrust of your argument seems to be that by allowing homosexuals to marry, they will soon grow to feel completely normal, which is, after all, the best thing to be. On many levels, I don't necessarily concede that this is desireable.

Sometimes I think homosexuals who want to be normal that badly should have their cards revoked and be forced to marry women. It's kind of sad to me to see a group of intelligent quasi-outsiders hold up normality as the ultimate good, and being different as the ultimate evil.

Dan

And are you saying gays were the only hedonists in the 70s? Good god... just rent 'The Ice Storm' and say that again with a straight face.

Jack Malebranche

Marriage isn't 'theirs' to 'protect.'

Really? I'm almost certain it is.

Like I said, it's a basic institution that will continue to adapt and change right alongside society itself.

True, but it was still never designed for homos. It's adapted dramatically over the past 100 years, and it's become something that for most people (straight or not) is no longer quite feasible. What's wrong with saying, "OK, this isn't working for them, let's come up with something smarter that will work better for us?"

Every time I have this discussion I become even more certain that the 'fight for marriage equality' is really 'the fight for institutionalized love and acceptance.'

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