Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Tue May 20 03:31:18 2008
Recital on Gay Marriage

Perspective on gay marriage (likely not far from standard US secular liberal perspective), which I may have given several times before, but is again in the news: I hold that recognition of gay marriage is a good thing for our government, if necessary against democratic consensus. I am highly sympathetic to the perspectiv that marriage is not a cultural institution that the government must be involved in, but we must also consider the value of the practical effects that marriage typically (as I understand) includes - durable power of attourney, default protected interests towards property/chattel after death, visitation rights, and a measure of recognised seriousness of tied identity suitable for companies to treat their employees as family members rather than individuals, and to extend benefits to others in the family. Bundling these benefits together is very useful for many parts of society. I have come to the conclusion that marriage is useful, and should I find myself in a relationship that has progressed to a point where it is appropriate, I think I would want to marry my partner. I also have (slowly) come to the conclusion that it is fine for marriage to be managed by the state (not states, but "the state" meaning the government).

Gay marriage is typically attacked on three fronts: first as directly being against the will of god(s), second as being nonproductive in propogating the species, and third as being against older, traditional notions of marriage. I ignore the first argument because I hold that there are no gods. For the second argument, I believe that marriage serves a different purpose than propogating the species - instead I believe it serves to recognise a durable shared identity and shared interests between two people. Whenever there exists a loving relationship between two people where they can be presumed to generally act with each other's well-being, exhibit a uniquely strong solidarity (emotional, financial, and possibly sexual fidelity) with each other, and plan and live their lives together, if they (the partners) consider it so, the state may recognise that a marriage exists (possibly given paperwork and a transition event, possibly not) with the attendant defaults established. Generation of children is not in practice a requirement of marriage, with people too old, uninterested in sex, or infertile still being given sanction to marry. Furthermore, generation of children is not threatened by gay marriage, both because we are biologically prompted to have children without prompting and because we do it in sufficient amounts that population growth is in fact a problem. As for the third criticism, I am unbothered by it because gay marriage serves society largely in the same way as nongay marriage does and because I believe a focus on this is inconsistent with allowing interracial marriage, something that was once illegal in many states and just as widely considered wrong - this argument either would condemn interracial marriage (and fall afoul of modern intuitions on the matter) or needs some nuances that would weaken it sufficiently as an intuition against gay marriage so as to make it difficult to seriously consider.

I am entirely comfortable with the judicial nature of the ruling allowing gay marriage, and allowing it to override votes and the sort. One function of the judiciary, I hold, is to bring about consistency in the law, and while this consistency should have a certain tension with the nuances the electorate would have it embrace, I hold that the interests in promoting the perpetuating family are not in practice what marriage is about in this society, and that instead it is designed to promote and protect family interests in general (which may in fact be just two people, as marriages of the aged, the infertle, and the uninterested in sex have been). Disallowing gay marriage is against the societal interests that suggest institutionalisation of marriage, and thus represent an inconsistency in the law - either marriage should be deinstitutionalised (with all those interests and useful protections given up) or it should be available wherever that kind of relationship exists.

I also recognise that marriage is another arena in a kulturkampf in the United States (and other nations) between Christianity (and/or other faiths) and other perspectives. I recognise that this formulation of marriage is at odds with many (but not all) traditional perspectives, and is inherently threatening to them. I have no need to reconcile my perspectives with any traditional or religious ideas, and based on my reading of foundational texts of many faiths, I don't believe support for gay marriage can be reconciled in an intellectually consistent/coherent way with every faith (and certainly not with every interpretaton of every faith). If and how this can be done by members of those faiths is left as an exercise for them - by my values gay marriage is something worth supporting, but so is intellectual integrity, and it would be difficult for me to ask people to give up coherency in their worldview (one good) in order to support another good (recognition of family). Some pairings of faith/philosophy may make that not an issue and also be reasonably coherent on the topic, of course.

Polygamous marriages are not addressed by this recital, and as of present I have no organised thoughts on the matter.

Feeling a bit better again about not moving - the job is not right, but there is no reason I could not move later if UCSB offers me a job. I will strive to shake my social life and habits up here to avoid becoming mired in emotional swamps again, and to remember that my decision to stay here for now does not bind me whatsoever to do so for the future, nor will I allow feelings of loyalty to an employer make me reluctant to leave whenever something else suits my interests more. I do need a larger shakeup of my life, but it does not have to happen immediately. My private sector expected wage given my resumé is 75k locally, and *that* should be the basis for adjustments for California private sector wages, not my current public sector wage. The desire to be in the academic sector has to figure in too. I hope I can use this to lay to rest this vacillation. On the upside, I got the first feeler from CMU about the greyhat "hacker" position, which sounds pretty awesome. If that ends up happening, it'll probably be the most CS-ish job I've had - I just need to make sure CERT doesn't have a dress code (I don't do dress codes).

Unrelated, I am increasingly convinced that Wikileaks is one of the most important sites on the internet for advancing societal openness. It is, like some other worthy sites, an unfortunate magnet for lawsuits, perhaps because it's inherently uncareful about disclosure of everything it comes across. I hold that its level of openness is a worthwhile goal though, and that the "new reality" that some judges have grumbled about is one worth forcing on all societies and legal systems Wikileaks can affect.