The Dim-Post

April 8, 2013

Mclauchlan’s law of anti marriage equality arguments

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 1:19 pm

Inspired by this op-ed on Stuff by Otago Law Professor Rex Ahdar, Mclauchlan’s law states that if you make an argument against gay marriage and look like a vile racist if you replace the words ‘gay’ with ‘inter-racial’ then it’s not a valid argument.

States recognise marriage; they do not invent it.

Gay Interracial marriage proponents will argue that defines marriage so as to exclude gay interracial couples, a neat trick that fools no- one.

Not so. Recall their key claim: gay interracial couples deserve equal legal recognition.

That is an empty argument. To insist upon equality is to require that “like things be treated alike”.

Gay Inter-racial couples should not be permitted to marry because they lack the essential traits that constitute true (conjugal) marriage.

We may treat gay interracial couples the same as heterosexual homogeneous couples when it comes to property division, pensions, inheritance and so on, but not when it comes to marriage.

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54 Comments »

  1. Allegedly Ahdar had just watched Django when he wrote that piece.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — April 8, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

  2. Rex Adhar is a rabid Roman Catholic..is this relevant?

    Comment by Majella — April 8, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

  3. Thank goodness. Have just been struggling to find the flaw Ahdar’s argument. Your post fits the bill Danyl.

    Comment by xianmac — April 8, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

  4. Adhar seems to open the door to a gay man and a lesbian woman being married.
    I’m not sure if that constitutes irony or not.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 8, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

  5. I’m curious about this bit: “gay couples cannot achieve complete sexual bodily union.” I have to admit I wasn’t aware straight couples could achieve this either, whatever it is… regardless, it sounds totally awesome and I’m feeling envious and somewhat left out. Can any readers offer a how-to?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 8, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

  6. I love it when religious campaigners invoke the language of logic to make their arguments so irrefutable, like you’d have to be irrational – even stupid – not to get it. I’m sure Prof Ahdar has used the same unanswerable logic to demolish the absurd inconsistencies of his allies on the religious right, or will be getting around to it, any time soon …

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — April 8, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

  7. Dissapointing. But he is allowed to make his argument. Sort of what universities are for (opposing viewpoints and all that).

    Comment by nw — April 8, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

  8. Sort of what universities are for (opposing viewpoints and all that).

    Yes. You’d expect something a bit less absurd from a law professor though.

    Comment by danylmc — April 8, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

  9. PM – I think it’s some form of endothermic phase transition only available to straight people.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 8, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

  10. There are some true gems in that opinion piece:

    Marriage has a true essence, a fundamental core; it is a real phenomenon, not just a human invention or convention.

    A crocodile is a crocodile, a tree is a tree, a river is a river. We did not invent crocodiles, we simply discovered them and named them. We can call a hippopotamus a crocodile if we want but that does not change its essential nature.

    I wonder when the first man discovered “marriage” and how he did that.

    Comment by eszett — April 8, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

  11. Prof Ahdar cogently puts out the opposing positions, and then makes a case for why gay marriage should not be allowed. Specifically, he notes that it is the proponents of the Bill that should be proving their case, and haven’t even tried to, instead demanding that opponents should prove why the Bill shouldn’t be passed. Kinda like demanding Saddam Hussein prove he doesn’t have WMD – logically kinda tricky.

    But specifically Danyl, how does skin colour/race/ethnicity alter a marriage of one man to one woman? That is, the skin colour of a heterosexual inter-racial couple doesn’t affect their marriage, does it? It is an irrelevant factor, which is why discrimination on such grounds is illegal.

    Whereas a gay couple (no matter how loving, caring or how great they are as child-raisers) are fundamentally different to a heterosexual couple – biologically & pyschologically. That does not automatically preclude gay marriage, but it does mean you *cannot* claim Prof Ahdar is wrong to distinguish between two quite different types of physical/romantic relationship.

    Franky, I’m disappointed that gay marriage proponents stoop to dog whistle that opponents to gay marriage must be racists (which is what is being done to Prof Ahdar) if they disagree with gay marriage.

    @ majella – no it is irrelevant what religion (if any) Prof Ahdar adheres to. That is not a ground you can discriminate against him on. Play the ball, not the man.

    Comment by bob — April 8, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

  12. Ack! “but it does mean you *cannot* use inter-racial marriage as an analogy to claim Prof Ahdar is wrong to distinguish between two quite different types of physical/romantic relationship (straight vs gay).

    Comment by bob — April 8, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

  13. I wonder when the first man discovered “marriage” and how he did that.-eszett
    Didn’t you know that Adam married Eve before the dreaded Coxs Orange was bit and that the hanky panky they played around with beforehand was totally innocent. The officiating clergy, by the way was the ummm … the pope who was just a little Pope in those days.

    Comment by xianmac — April 8, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

  14. But specifically Danyl, how does skin colour/race/ethnicity alter a marriage of one man to one woman? That is, the skin colour of a heterosexual inter-racial couple doesn’t affect their marriage, does it? It is an irrelevant factor, which is why discrimination on such grounds is illegal.

    That’s my whole point. Only a few decades ago – in the US at least – it was argued that skin color did affect marriage, that it was a relevant factor, that marriage shouldn’t be ‘redefined’ to allow mixed marriages, that blacks and whites were ‘fundamentally different’ etc. Now in the 21st Century we consider those arguments absurd, but people make exactly the same case against gay marriage.

    Comment by danylmc — April 8, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

  15. But Bob, there are a couple of problems here:

    He invents an abstract concept called complete sexual bodily union, and 1) claims that every society since antiquity has held this mysterious concept central to marriage, and 2) claims that homosexual people can’t experience it.

    To which the obvious response is 1) actually the key element of marriage in most societies since antiquity is property rights, and 2) how does he know? Has he tried it?

    Comment by Dr Foster — April 8, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

  16. @xianmac – The claim that marriage was a pre-political (and thus presumably pre-legal) phenomenon that had an essential and historically unchanging nature didn’t clue you in?

    Comment by ObjectiveReality — April 8, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

  17. Also, there is a west wing episode on this point as it relates to don’t ask don’t tell. Just saying. West wing.

    Comment by nw — April 8, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

  18. NW could you flesh out a few more details from that west wing episode for me? I think I know the one you’re talking about but I’m not too sure.

    Comment by sg — April 8, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

  19. poor video quality, but here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f7js0mLwY4

    Comment by Ataahua — April 8, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

  20. Marriage has a true essence, a fundamental core; it is a real phenomenon, not just a human invention or convention.

    Well that’s obviously rubbish – just listen to the guy who said this:

    Who says these attributes – sexual complementarity, reproductive capacity – are “essential”?

    Who says this is the standard?

    We did. We decided that marriage involves the comprehensive sexual union of a man and a woman.

    Oh, hold on – it’s the same guy. In the same column. Huh.

    Comment by Josh — April 8, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

  21. Dr Foster – I think by ‘complete sexual bodily union’, Prof Ahdar was trying to politely allude to marriage participants having a penis and vagina that are designed to match each other, unlike in gay couples. And no, marriage is not about property rights, even if they have been clipped on to marriage – married couples don’t (generally) perform the marriage act in the marketplace where they trade their property!

    Right Danyl, but the US racists who opposed inter-racial marriage couldn’t *prove* that there is any difference between a same-race marriage and an inter-racial marriage; ie the skin colour of the participants does not alter the marriage.

    By contrast, the gender of the participants does alter the nature of the ‘marriage’. Gay couples are intrinsically infertile (ie by design, not by accident, disease or flaw in the DNA), which takes away the primary interest of the state in civil marriage.

    And if procreation is not the state’s interest, what is? Approving ‘loving relationships’ would see the state issuing marriage licenses for every dad and daughter or aunty and nephew. If competent childrearing is the criteria, even Brave New World style state assigned caregivers could be defined as ‘married’.

    Skin colour does not affect procreation, homosexuality intrinsically (and permanently for 100% of all gay couples) does.

    Comment by bob — April 8, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

  22. Hi bob:

    Can you please elucidate a bit more about how marriage has nothing to do with property rights, with specific reference to this beautiful unchanging relationship that has existed between one man and one woman since the dawn of time.

    Cheers.

    Comment by Vanilla Eis — April 8, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

  23. Vanilla Es – I didn’t say marriage had nothing to do with property rights. Dr Foster claimed the ‘key element’ of marriage ‘since antiquity’ was property rights. I disagreed, but noted that property rights have been ‘clipped onto’ marriage, because when two individuals become one couple there is an inevitable blending of property, even if only of such property as is jointly acquired after the marriage begins. Some cultures (eg Judaism) attach greater importance to the attached property rights, but even then it doesn’t alter the primary purpose of marriage – a loving lifelong relationship in which to create and raise children.

    But let’s not threadjack the discussion on race vs gay marriage. ;)

    Comment by bob — April 8, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

  24. Gay couples are intrinsically infertile … which takes away the primary interest of the state in civil marriage.

    Bob, you’re heading down the track of arguing that marriages resulting in children have more validity than marriages without children, which I find insulting. Straights who can’t have children don’t have the basis of their marriage undermined, and that same consideration should be given to same-sex couples.

    Comment by Ataahua — April 8, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

  25. I’m confused – can the crocodiles achieve Complete Sexual Bodily Union or not?

    Comment by garethw — April 8, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

  26. Not with a hippopotamus, no. I think.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 8, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

  27. Also, I think searching Prof Ahdar’s browser history for the bodily unions of reptilia would be enlightening…

    Comment by garethw — April 8, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

  28. I think we’re meant to CALL them hippos. It’s a turn on. Or perhaps a safety word….

    Comment by garethw — April 8, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

  29. I think by ‘complete sexual bodily union’, Prof Ahdar was trying to politely allude to marriage participants having a penis and vagina that are designed to match each other, unlike in gay couples.

    Oh. That’s much less interesting. Well, I guess you could call it “complete” in that a straight married couple have a complete set of the available human genitalia available for their sexual antics, whereas a same-sex couple by definition has a more limited range available for use. But basing an argument against gay marriage on that is about as sensible as arguing that one-legged people shouldn’t be allowed to use the footpath because they don’t have a complete set of walking equipment.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 8, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

  30. Mclauchlan’s law states that if you make an argument against gay marriage and look like a vile racist if you replace the words ‘gay’ with ‘inter-racial’ then it’s not a valid argument.

    Mclauchlan’s law is stupid. Sorry. Interracial marriage has always existed, while as same-sex marriage is an invention that is meaningless.

    Comment by Lucia Maria — April 8, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

  31. States recognise marriage; they do not invent it.
    Come now. “Inventing marriage” is precisely what Henry VIII did when he established the Church of England.

    Comment by herr doktor bimler — April 8, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

  32. Interracial marriage has always existed

    Not universally – it was illegal in the southern United States until 1967.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 8, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

  33. can the crocodiles achieve Complete Sexual Bodily Union or not?
    Not with a hippopotamus, no. I think.

    You will be glad to know that Evolution has in fact blessed the male crocodile with a penis, so there is nothing to stand in the way of the hippopotamus / crocodile union.

    Comment by herr doktor bimler — April 8, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

  34. Gregor, that’s because Americans at the time were racist, not because they didn’t believe that marriage between races was impossible.

    Comment by Lucia Maria — April 8, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

  35. bob, you’re right that the people demanding a law change should come up with sound arguments themselves, but Prof Ahdar has offered a lot of bait to respond to, so you may as well let us. ;-)

    I propose that the definition of marriage is already wider than bob and Prof Ahdar admit… the state doesn’t demand that:

    * both “man” and “woman” be fertile
    * both “man” and “woman” be willing to reproduce only via “complete sexual bodily union”
    * both “man” and “woman” be fit parents

    You’ve said that homosexuals are infertile by design (ugh), and this is why they shouldn’t qualify, but

    (a) Your proposition is not true. Homosexuals can be fertile, as every biological child of a homosexual will tell you. They can reproduce via surrogate partners, even without “adulterous sexual bodily union” if doing it in the lab. They can even end up having children via “complete sexual bodily union” in a false “heterosexual” marriage, which is what tended to happen when it was illegal to even *be* a homosexual.
    In other words, an infertile homosexual would have trouble creating biological children, just as an infertile heterosexual would. A fertile homosexual is just as capable of creating biological children as a fertile heterosexual is, it might just not happen via “complete sexual bodily union” with another person of the same gender.

    (b) Even if your proposition is true, I don’t see why it follows that this disqualifies them from marriage in a modern, secular society. You haven’t convinced me that this is the ultimate reason for marriage.. especially since a lot of people seem to be making children quite happily without marriage, and it is no longer against the law to do so.

    Consider this, if we give the benefit of the doubt to opponents of ‘gay marriage’, and accept that marriage is actually all about sex (and, biblically speaking, it probably is… sex and property — the ‘property’ being, of course, the woman). Our definition of marriage has evolved to:

    * Disallow marriage to/between children (also note, they can’t legally consent to sex), which used to be fairly common, and still is in some societies
    * Disallow marriage to multiple partners simultaneously, which also used to be fairly common, and still is in some societies
    * Allow divorce and remarriage, and vastly expanded the rights of women in requesting a divorce

    This is something that can be and *has been* gradually redefined by law. Over time, society has decided that fertility isn’t the only necessary ingredient to marriage — so is legal consent (good!) and monogamy (I guess? hard to come up with a really rational argument against it, honestly). Homosexual, adult couples should fit the bill too.

    Disclaimer: I’m a moron and I’m usually wrong

    Comment by kim — April 8, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

  36. Ahdar’s tone is smug and unpleasant and I fear he does his cause few favours. I suspect his arguments are theologically motivated, but he is too mealy-mouthed to come out and say it.This is unfortunate, because I think the only really good arguments against the assumptions that underlie gay marriage are explicitly religious. For a good and clear theological consideration of the case against gay marriage, written in a rather more humane and generous tone, I’d recommend this (badly-subbed) article by John Milbank, probably the greatest living Anglican theologian, on the ABC website:

    http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/03/13/3452229.htm

    The idea of a major news corporation posting on their site weighty essays by leading thinkers on religious and philosophical themes is the kind of thing that makes me hope there might still be a future for mass-media after all.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — April 8, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

  37. not because they didn’t believe that marriage between races was impossible.

    Marriage between races was impossible in the southern United States until 1967. If two people wanted to marry, too bad — whatever ceremony they might perform was not a recognised marriage. Is this really so difficult?

    Comment by herr doktor bimler — April 8, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

  38. HD Bimler,

    The State does not confer marriage upon a couple, it merely recognises it. When it does more than that, it steps beyond it’s bounds.

    Comment by Lucia Maria — April 8, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

  39. Is this really so difficult?

    It is, Hr Dr., it is.

    . Interracial marriage has always existed, while as same-sex marriage is an invention that is meaningless.

    Nonsense. Marriage is a human concept, invented by humans, defined and redefined throughout the century by humans.
    If you think that same-sex marriage is meaningless you are entitled to do so. Probably the same way you think that marriage between divorced people is meaningless.

    Don’t like gay marriage, don’t get one. Same way you if you don’t like divorcees getting married, don’t get divorced. Or don’t remarry.

    Doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to.

    Comment by eszett — April 8, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

  40. The State does not confer marriage upon a couple:

    Interesting logic. Try getting your marriage recognised by the State without a license.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 8, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

  41. The State does not confer marriage upon a couple, it merely recognises it. When it does more than that, it steps beyond it’s bounds.

    Yep, exactly that is what this law is going to do, recognise it. The very same way it recognises all those other types of marriages you don’t agree with, e.g atheist, muslims, anglicans, hindus, divorcees and whatever other non-catholic marriages you can think of.

    All we are doing is adding one other type of marriage to the list. Get over it.

    Comment by eszett — April 8, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

  42. The State does not confer marriage upon a couple, it merely recognises it.
    The State does not confer the title of “True Scotsman”, it merely recognises it.

    This topic seems to invite a lot of trolling and conspicuous displays of stupidity.

    Comment by herr doktor bimler — April 8, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

  43. conspicuous displays of god bothering idiocy my good docktor

    Comment by Tim — April 8, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

  44. Evolution has in fact blessed the male crocodile with a penis, so there is nothing to stand in the way of the hippopotamus / crocodile union.

    Yeah, I’m no zoologist, but the crocodile in that picture doesn’t look like complete sexual bodily union is a whole lot of fun. I’m going off the whole thing.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 8, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

  45. I don’t think Ahdar spotted the irony of trying to appeal to Platonic ideals.

    Comment by NeilM — April 8, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

  46. The State does not confer the title of “True Scotsman”, it merely recognises it.

    Another stupid argument.

    Comment by Lucia Maria — April 8, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

  47. I’ve just read Rexies spurt all the through, I am right that paraphrasing him goes something like “those dirty fags are fags and fags can’t marry because only non fags can”?

    Comment by Tim — April 8, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

  48. Marriage has a true essence, a fundamental core; it is a real phenomenon, not just a human invention or convention.

    Perhaps a bit of Spinoza thrown in.

    If he had said “Pair bonding has a true essence…”, with marriage being a social construct to integrate the irrationality pair bonding into society, that would make some sense.

    Comment by NeilM — April 8, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

  49. That a law professor cannot distinguish between gender and ethnicity is worrisome.
    The legal profession thrive on worry.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — April 8, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

  50. this beautiful unchanging relationship that has existed between one man and one woman since the dawn of time

    I am looking forward to all the invocations of Traditional Biblical Marriage that manage to omit the polygamy, rape, concubinage and pedophilia aspects of it.

    Comment by herr doktor bimler — April 8, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

  51. Maybe this “complete bodily sexual union” thing will become possible amongst same-sex couples once we’ve recognized same-sex marriages. I mean, we won’t know until someone tries it, right?

    Comment by NN — April 8, 2013 @ 8:21 pm

  52. Bob: well, if he meant to say that a penis and vagina are designed to match each other, why didn’t he say so, instead of giving us this claptrap about bodily union? But anyway, I would disagree that design was involved at all, let alone that there is a designer who specifically intended to match penises and vaginas. It’s up to each of us to decide what to do with our genitals, and with whom to do it, and to decide what pleasure we get from it. I have no idea what bodily union is. And even if I did know what it was, I don’t have the data to decide whether homosexual and heterosexual sexual experiences both have it or not. Nor, I suspect, do you or Rex Ahdar.

    In terms of property rights, I was thinking more of the traditional judaeo-christian approach to marriage, in which the woman and physical property associated with her become the property of the man, who has a very broad legal right to take whatever decisions he pleases with her and it. It’s very, very longstanding cultural and legal tradition, which has only been moderated in recent decades. It’s not got much to do with bodily sexual union, but everything to do with power relationships.

    I’m all in favour of gay people being allowed to marry if they want to, but marriage is a pretty silly institution. If gay people want to indulge in it, then they should absolutely have the right to do so. But perhaps it would be better if marriage were just abolished full stop, and everybody had civil unions. The world would be a much better place.

    Comment by Dr Foster — April 8, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

  53. Okay, now I’m confused.

    Should I marry the nice man I met on finsomeone or should we just continue our non-marital bonking? We can achieve complete sexual bodily union (when he takes his viagra), but as a 48 year old woman I have age-related infertility. So is there any point in getting married? And would it be a true marriage?

    (I suppose God might remember me the way he remembered Rachel but Fertility Associates assure me it won’t happen…)

    Comment by MeToo — April 9, 2013 @ 7:52 am

  54. Try the Economist for a much more reasoned analysis of gay-marriage proponents’ potential overreaching… http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/04/gay-marriage?fsrc=nlw|newe|4-8-2013|5491313|42549528|AP

    Comment by Ben — April 9, 2013 @ 10:52 am


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