Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Argument for Polygamy

Russell Nieli, who has a PhD in politics from Princeton, writes in the Public Discourse about "learning from a religious skeptic's rejection of polygamy and easy divorce":

While often hostile to the Calvinist Christianity in which he was reared, David Hume’s essay “Of Polygamy and Divorces” offers a vigorous and well-argued defense of marriage arrangements as they existed in England and many other parts of Europe from the early Middle Ages through most of the 18th century. His arguments have great relevance for us today as we struggle to cope with unprecedented rates of divorce and unprecedented ease of both entering into and exiting marriages and other intimate procreative relationships. His arguments against polygamy are also important as that practice seems to be undergoing something of a resurgence in parts of the southwest, with renewed interest in the popular culture.

Maggie Gallagher comments on David Hume's claim that both polygamy and liberal divorce laws make marriages less happy over at NRO's The Corner:

Interesting stuff, but I became somewhat more transfixed by the argument for polygamy to which Hume is in part responding:

Having multiple wives, says the polygamy defender, is “the only effectual remedy for the disorder of love and the only expedient for freeing men from that slavery to the females which the natural violence of our passion has imposed upon us.” It is by multiple partners alone — partners who can be used at will and played off one against the other — that “[we men] regain our right of sovereignty, and sating our appetite, reestablish the authority of reason in our minds, and, of consequence, our own authority in our families.”

Essentially, The tyranny of lust disorders men’s reason and gives women too much power over men: that’s polygamy as misogyny.

But who today seeks to limit the power of lust to disorder reason? That 3,000-year-old tradition of thought — from the Roman stoics to the Christian fathers to the polygamy defenders in Hume’s day — appears to have been replaced by a desire to experience the sweet disorder of lust as often as possible. Strange.

Research Roundup: Premarital Teen Sex Dramatically Increases Risk of Divorce for Men and Women

From Glen Stanton at Focus on the Family:

Since 1991, there have a been a number of good, population-based studies exploring the connection between premarital sexual activity and later elevated risk of divorce.

Just recently, another good study was published on the topic, prompting me to do a little research round-up/summary of the nice handful of studies addressing this question.

It is important that adolescents and young adults have access to this information indicating how sexual choices made today can have real, significant negative consequences upon their most important relationships - and therefore their lives and general well-being - years down the road.

Here is the concise two-page summary of this body of research.

VA's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli Drops King & Spalding Over DOMA Debacle

The Washington Examiner got the scoop:

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has terminated his office's relationship with King & Spalding, the Atlanta law firm that abrubtly dropped the U.S. House of Representatives as a client for purposes of defending the Defense of Marriage Act.

"King & Spalding's willingness to drop a client, the U.S. House of Representatives, in connection with the lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was such an obsequious act of weakness that I feel compelled to end your legal association with Virginia so that there is no chance that one of my legal clients will be put in the embarrassing and difficult situation like the client you walked away from, the House of Representatives," Cuccinelli said in a letter to Joseph Lynch in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

... The firm had been retained by the Virginia AG's office Sept. 15, 2009. Cuccinelli said the firm was being terminated "effective immediately."

Cuccinelli said he acted because "Virginia does not shy away from hiring outside counsel because they may have ongoing professional relationships with people or entities, or on behalf of causes that I, or my office, or Virginia as a whole may not support. But it is crucial for us to be able to trust and rely on the fact that our outside counsel will not desert Virginia due to pressure by an outside group or groups."


Both MERI and Catholic Church Oppose RI Civil Union Bill

It doesn't appear to offer legislators much of a compromise at this point:

"Catholic Diocese Asks Assembly to Kill Civil Unions" (ProJo)

"Meri States Strong Opposition to Civil Unions" (MERI press release)

Tired Meme Alert Spreading: New York

This in the New York Times:

Two dozen high-profile New York business leaders plan to release an open letter on Friday urging state lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage, arguing that the measure would help companies attract and retain employees.

We've already responded to this meme when it popped up in Rhode Island, Indiana, and --most recently-- Minnesota.

No matter which state the argument is floated in: the evidence simply does not show that redefining marriage helps state economies. In fact, the most prospering states have one-man, one-woman marriage amendments, and none have gay marriage, as Maggie points out in this column on the subject back in March.

WaPo Columnist to HRC: Strong-Arming Lawyers Isn't an Acceptable Tactic

Ruth Marcus, who opposes DOMA, writes in the Washington Post that she opposes HRC's intimidation tactics more:

It’s easy to beat up on a big corporate law firm for acting cravenly in its financial self-interest. In the case of King & Spalding, the Atlanta firm that abruptly reneged on its commitment to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the pummeling is entirely deserved. But the bigger culprit is the Human Rights Campaign, the gay rights group that orchestrated the ugly pressure tactics against King & Spalding.

... strong-arming the lawyer to drop or avoid the unpopular client is not an acceptable tactic. This is not, or shouldn’t be, a left-right debate. It is true whether the lawyer is defending murderers on death row, Guantanamo detainees or a federal law — a law, it must be pointed out, that was passed by overwhelming congressional majorities and signed by a Democratic president.

Can SSM Pass the NY House?

The Albany Times Union raises the question.

SSM advocates say yes, for sure.

But then again, they said that about the Rhode Island House ... and the Maryland House, too.

And there are new factors to consider this year:

"There's a sense that because it's passed three times, it's a given it'll pass again," said Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the Catholic group [the New York State Catholic Conference]. "But they're not taking into account the fact that the speaker lost 10 seats in the election."

The organization also is taking into account the departures of Democrats Nettie Mayersohn and Darryl Towns, and the pending departures of Audrey Pheffer and RoAnn Destito, all of whom voted for the bill in 2009.

Did Speaker Fox have the Votes in RI?

House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello echoes Speaker Gordon Fox and says no the votes for gay marriage weren't there, even in the house, but several in leadership disagree, as ProJo reports:

House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, echoing Fox, said it was questionable whether the votes were there in the House for a gay-marriage bill. “There are political realities,” he said Wednesday. “We have representatives from different constituencies and some of those constituencies indicated they were not ready for this.”

Mattiello declined to say on the record how close he thought the vote would be for gay marriage.

But at least three members of Fox’s leadership team who have been consistent supporters of gay-marriage legislation felt otherwise.

Rep. Jon Brien says the reason he backed down, is that Fox was afraid a SSM bill could be amended to refer the question to the people---and that is apparently still unacceptable to gay marriage supporters, even though they claim majority support in Rhode Island.

Matthew Franck on The King & Spalding Skedaddle

In the Public Discourse Matt Franck discusses the weird truth revealed by this incident: it now takes courage to stand up not only for marriage, but for basic norms of institutional integrity:

... intimidation—“mau-mauing the flak-catchers,” Tom Wolfe memorably called it—is now the default tactic of same-sex marriage advocates. What else, for instance, explains the antics of now-retired federal judge Vaughn Walker, who wanted to broadcast the Proposition 8 trial in California, and then broke his promise—and his legal duty—to keep the trial’s video record from public view? What else explains the instantaneous denunciation of all opponents of same-sex marriage as “haters”?

Resistance to such intimidation, in the name of the ethic of institutional integrity, is fast becoming the duty of all persons in positions of institutional responsibility, whatever their private views on homosexuality or same-sex marriage. When we witness such principled resistance, as in the case of Dean Evan Caminker’s decision to stick with Ohio Senator and alumnus Rob Portman as the commencement speaker at the University of Michigan’s law school—despite the outcry of those who object to Portman’s 1996 vote for DOMA as a House member—we should applaud it heartily.

A sage older colleague of mine is fond of saying that integrity is something you can have just by deciding to have it. But you do have to decide. It’s that easy, and that hard. But those who would sacrifice ethics and the integrity of our institutions to the victory of a political cause must be sharply rebuked by fair-minded conservatives and liberals alike.

Maggie in Politico on Boehner and DOMA

NOM Chairman Maggie Gallagher was quoted in Politico yesterday on Speaker Boehner's defense of DOMA:

“We were extremely pleased with Speaker Boehner’s decision to intervene. That improved our prospects of prevailing,” said Maggie Gallagher, who chairs the National Organization for Marriage, which has become an active voice in opposing same-sex marriage laws since its creation in 2007. “He has shown a commitment to the law. … This is not about legal or political theatrics. It’s about the defense of marriage.”

Gallagher warned against the familiar media narrative of concluding that Boehner’s role is merely for show or that he is not committed to the case. “Everyone knows that there will be a PR hit in the mainstream media for standing up on these issues,” she said. “The story line is that the GOP will abandon social conservatives. That hasn’t happened with Boehner. … He has been magnificent.”

... With the boost from Boehner, conservatives contend that they are on a roll on the marriage issue. Gallagher said that recent legislative and election success in several typically liberal states should dispel the conventional wisdom that gay marriage is a bad issue for Republicans.

Will Rhode Island Dems Adopt a Unifying Beneficiaries Bill?

RI Democrats appear to be trying to split the difference between the beneficiaries bill approved by local Bishop Tobin and a NJ-style civil unions bill, as ProJo reports:

State Rep. Peter Petrarca said on the floor of the state House of Representatives on Wednesday that he will introduce legislation as early as Thursday granting gay couples the right to "civil unions."

The proposal, he said, would borrow heavily from a bill that the Lincoln Democrat has already introduced this year that would give gay couples access to "reciprocal beneficiary agreements."

Stay tuned.

Speaker Fox Takes Heat From SSM Activists in RI for Supporting Civil Unions

Will Marriage Equality Rhode Island kill a civil unions bill in that state?

ProJo reports:

"House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, in an emotional appeal to gay marriage advocates protesting outside his State House office, said that his decision to support civil union legislation was a sign of the strong opposition by both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate for gay marriage, and did not mean that he was stepping away from his drive for full-fledged marriage rights.

... The protesters urged Fox to put a bill that would grant gay couples full marriage rights to a vote before the full state House of Representatives, something that they say the speaker promised to gay marriage advocates and that has never been done before in state history.

But after months of saying that there was strong support in the House for gay marriage, Fox conceded that he did not have the votes to pass the lower chamber.

... But protester Wendy Becker, of Providence, was unmoved. She said she was "unwilling to put discrimination in our laws, which is what civil union does."

Becker urged the speaker to place gay marriage before House members, saying that the bill would never pass in the Senate, where its leaders have long fought against it, until it passed first in the House."

US Bishops Hire Policy Advisor for Marriage and Family

A new arrow in the bishops' quiver:

Mr. Daniel Avila, Esq. has been hired as Policy Advisor for Marriage and Family within the USCCB. Mr. Avila formerly served at the Massachusetts Catholic Conference as Associate Director for Policy & Research since 1997. He has researched and written about marriage and its protection on various occasions, and is keenly familiar with the opportunities and challenges associated with the promotion and protection of marriage. Mr. Avila received his Juris Doctor from Valparaiso University School of Law. As the bishops work to advance the promotion and protection of marriage at the level of public policy, Mr. Avila's service and expertise will be an important component.

Congrats, Daniel!

Tired Meme Alert: MN Gay Marriage Advocates Tout Bogus Economic Arguments

We've seen this argument floated before, and now it has popped up again - this time in Minnesota:

"In so many ways, this constitutional amendment [defining marriage as between one man and one woman] is bad for Minnesota employers and a distraction from the real priority for the state: growing the economy," said Charlie Zelle, CEO of Jefferson Bus Lines and chair of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The above was taken from a press release issued by a pro-SSM group in MN.

Maggie Gallagher took a look at this claim that gay marriage is an economic development plan when it was last floated in Indiana and demonstrated how it is bogus in her syndicated column:

Consider the state-level data on per capita personal income growth between 1999 and 2009, published by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The top five states for income growth in that decade are: Wyoming, North Dakota, Louisiana, Montana and Oklahoma. Four of the five states with the fastest income growth per capita have state marriage amendments, and none have gay marriage.

Or consider another potential measure of a state's business climate: What do CEOs think? Chief Executive magazine annually surveys 543 CEOs to identify which states are the best and the worst for job growth and business. In 2009, the top five states for job growth in CEOs' opinions were: Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Four out of five have marriage amendments, and none have gay marriage.

(The worst? California, New York, Michigan, New Jersey, and yes, Massachusetts.)

Or consider another data point that comes from a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey, "Enterprising States," which includes a ranking for what it called "middle-class job growth." These are presumably the good jobs that the creative class seeks or fosters.

The top five states for middle-class job growth between 2002 and 2009 are: Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Hawaii and Texas. Once again, four out of the five have state marriage amendments, and none have gay marriage.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also compiles a list of states that are the top "overall growth performers": North Dakota, Virginia, South Dakota, Maryland and Wyoming. The top three all have state marriage amendments, and none have gay marriage. [Maryland has since rejected same-sex marriage as well.]

And back in 2004 Steven Malanga wrote a devastating critique of this "creative class" meme: The Curse of the Creative Class.

FRC's Perkins: Who Decides Who Gets Lawyers? SSM Activists or the Constitution?

From Family Research Council Tony Perkins' Washington Update:

The people who avoid a debate are the ones afraid of losing. That's why the groups like GetEQUAL and others are forming what is basically a mobile protest unit. [This week], its activists rallied outside the offices of King & Spalding--only to learn that its attorneys had bailed on the case. So what did they do? Hopped in the car, drove across town to Paul Clement's new firm, and started demonstrating there. "I think Bancroft PPLC just bought itself a world of pain," wrote one blogger. "Go get them!!!"

As far as they're concerned, the Constitution doesn't decide who gets lawyers--homosexuals do. Those intimidation games may have worked before, but don't count on it now, says the Washington Post. "It may just be that dumping the House of Representatives as its client is proving to be potentially more... damaging to the firm than sticking by a client."