March 16, 2010

You Can Lead a Horse to Gay Marriage ....

"You see, the Massachusetts Supreme Court, when it started this move toward same-sex marriage, actually defined marriage—now get this—it defined marriage as simply, 'the establishment of intimacy.' Now how dangerous is that? I mean, I don't mean to be absurd about it, but I guess I can make the point of absurdity with an absurd point—I guess that would mean if you really had affection for your horse, I guess you could marry your horse. It's just the wrong way to go, and the only way to protect the institution of marriage is with that federal marriage amendment that I support."—Arizona U.S. Senate candidate JD Hayworth
I really have little interest in turning this poker/sports/random musings blog into a gay rights blog, but when some right wing yahoo blurts out a quote like this, I have to interrupt the degeneracy chatter for a little sober and rational analysis.  After all, I'm not one to suffer fools gladly. Or at all.

So what is it with the right wing nutcases, that makes them go for the man-horse (or in Rick Santorum's case, the man-dog) argument anytime gay marriage is brought up?  Gay marriage is certainly a controversial topic worthy of serious public debate.  I happen to be gay, and I'm in a long-term relationship which, thanks to the Iowa supreme court, is eligible to be recognized as a civil marriage.  I look at my relationship and I see a lot of what my straight friends have in their marriages—I get nagged for not keeping the house clean, I get static about the amount of poker I play, my poker bankroll gets siphoned for house projects and spouse gifts, he rolls his eyes when I watch sports, I roll my eyes when he watches "House Hunters", when one of us is sick the other babies him, when he drives on a closed road and gets stuck in a snowdrift I bite my tongue ... The only difference is that we gays have a lot more angry sex and make up sex, and no angry withholding of sex; jealous, aren't ya?

Look, gay marriage is a major change.  It is going to be controversial, and there will be harsh words and hurt feelings from the debate.  That is all part of the healthy process of democracy.  I fully understand that well-meaning and rational folks might not agree that gay marriage should be legalized.   But what I don't understand is the ultra-right-wing's reflexive slippery slope argument that gay marriage is somehow an endorsement of bestiality.  It is incredibly offensive, not to mention irrational.*  In some ways, the fact that they resort to this argument is reassuring—if they have to stoop to such a ridiculous "analysis" then they are essentially admitting their position is intellectually bankrupt.  I think most Americans who are undecided recognize the bestiality "argument" for the specious drivel it is.  But when a serious candidate for a high political office feels the need to articulate this point, it establishes either that he is too stupid to be trusted in public service, or he is too cynical a panderer to be trusted with public office.

Now, I'm pretty sure there's some saying about giving a man a fish ....

*Just to be clear, two adult humans can enter into a contract, such as marriage.  A human and an animal cannot enter into such a contract.  I lost IQ points simply by spelling out such a rudimentary argument, but apparently there are folks who need this point explained to them.  I will be happy to forward a Venn diagram and a sledgehammer to the skull to anyone needing further explanation.


  1. As a longtime DC resident, it gives me great pride to point to ONE THING we are doing right: recently legalized marriage for same-sex couples.

    'Bout time. Hope it catches on everywhere.

  2. JD Hayworth is the biggest right wing blow-hard nutjob out there (which I guess means he'll probably win against McCain in the primary). Not everyone out here in Az is that back-assward. Some of us actually read your blog! (You should have seen what I did with deuce four suited this weekend at Caesar's!)

  3. I agree with your post completely.

    BUT, I've always been kind of curious that gay marriage isn't discussed as a precedent for plural marriage. To me, there seem to be obvious legal similarities (e.g. everyone is consenting adults).

    I get the feeling that this is for three reasons:

    1) Gays and Lesbians don't want to be associated with crazy fundamentalist LDS-offshoot churches.

    2) The various kinds of people who might want to practice plural marriage don't want to be associated with gay people.

    3) Its easy to adapt gay marriage into all the various current legal rights associated with marriage... set up for 2 people. Many of these rules and regulations are not compatible with more than 2 people.

    Any thoughts?

  4. @ Anonymous:

    As a matter of policy, there are libertarian considerations that support both gay marriage and plural marriage.

    One major policy difference, though, is that plural marriage in practice has tended to exhibit unequal power distribution in the relationship that is at odds with the equality of partners assumed for married couples.

    As a matter of law, civil marriage is about property rights, child custody, and spousal rights. Civil marriage can adapt to gay marriage merely by changing pronouns and using the word "spouse" in lieu of "husband" or "wife". Plural marriage would require a radical rethinking of the nature of civil marriage and its associated legal rights and privileges (e.g., which spouse inherits what, which spouse makes health care decisions, which spouse gets visitation rights).


  5. As a long time Massachusetts resident, you're welcome! :-P

    But please let me know whenever it is someone can marry a horse. Because, by like means, I believe I could then claim my cats as dependents!

    (Thanks for the linklove -- you drive ~half the traffic to my blog)


  6. All this started by a guy who occasionally wears a t shirt depicting an equine sporting a noose...