Jay Bullock (3-0)

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Current Battle: Election 2004






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Monday, May 17, 2004

Battle Gay Marriage - The Challenger - First Rebuttal

Is denying gays the ability to marry segregation or bigotry? My opponent has no problem saying that it is. In fact, he is barely able to summon a cogent argument in favor for it beyond "Well, it's just wrong and oh yeah, we live in a secular nation". Well, that's all very special and I'm sorry he's had to bend his scary-talented brain to answers of more than one word. But we have a debate here and I'd like him to get into it.

Let's begin taking his written tripe apart at the beginning. Maybe using the spice of reason and the Paprika of Reality we'll end up with something palatable. My opponent opens by saying that the Constitution exists to "Limit the scope and power of the government, and grant and extend rights to individuals". He's only half-right. The Constitution does limit the scope of government but that is all it does. It doesn't confer a single right to any individual. In fact, the Constitution only prevents the government from infringing on rights which, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, already exists.

Don't believe me? Let's take the Bill of Rights as an example:

"Congress shall make no law..."
"...the right of the people...shall not be infringed."
" No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner..."
"The right of the people to be secure...shall not be violated..."
"No person shall be held..."
"...the right of trial by jury shall be preserved..."
" Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

Even the Fourteenth Amendment, the false front of this argument does not confer rights, but prohibits the government from removing rights individuals already have.

"...nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."


You see what's happening here? The authors are not giving out rights. They assume the rights already exist and block the government from taking any of them away. Neat, huh? It was pretty revolutionary back then, too because it meant that rights weren't something a powerful individual or an elite few could give out like presents on Christmas morning. Individuals have rights because "they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights". Uh oh. There's that darned religion thing, and in a secular nation, too! Darn those Founding Fathers for giving us rights based on a religious ideal! Darn them to...umm.... some secular darnation place!

So why does my opponent believe that marriage is a right? I can't begin to say. It's certainly not written, or even implied, in the Constitution. In fact, I doubt seriously that his principles would extend as far as to allow these same "rights" to any other group of people who wants to marry two or three other people at the same time, or their brothers or sisters, or even juveniles. He is willing to draw that line but not this one. But I wonder, since he belives that marriage is a right, on what grounds he would deny that to others.

But, I can almost hear him asking as he leafs through his "My First Pop-Up Book on Constitutional Rights", what about Brown? What about "separate but equal"? Well, I'm glad he brought it up. If you look into the court decision, you'll find the court brought to bear a very powerful principle: that the law has to treat everyone equally. Period.

Is that occurring? Are we prohibiting gay people from doing something everyone else can do? Are we treating them differently?

Well, no. The law is pretty clear: you can't marry someone of the same sex. There is no separation here. Everyone is prohibited equally; no one is given preference. Segregation? Hardly. Bigotry? Not part of my consideration. In fact, I'll bet that if my friend and I went to the courthouse and tried to get a marriage license, the clerk wouldn't ask if I were gay. It's immaterial to the law. That is the very definition of "equal protection under the law" - that it treats you without respect to race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion. Yet, Bullock wants to use equal protection to remove equal protection.

Bullock invokes Plessy in a vain attempt to support the origin of "separate but equal" as if a court somewhere has decided that marriage would intentionally prohibit gay people. That, of course, is miles from the truth. But it's a convenient dodge to place this debate on an equal footing with the later Brown decision. Marriage is not a new invention and the definition has not changed measurably from the way it's been practiced for thousands of years. The operative thing to remember is that marriage as we know it has been the societal norm as long as it has existed.

Let's assume, though, that desire matters in the eyes of the law. We'll ignore all those other folks who want to marry who they want to marry but can't because we're willing to cruelly segregate them arbitrarily. Let's look not unkindly past them and bend the Loving decision to fit this case and see what we have.

Loving held, basically, that interracial marriage couldn't be banned. Now, some folks want to map that directly onto this debate, saying that there's no different between interracial marriage and gay marriage. Later Supreme Court decisions have held that classifications based on sex are similar to classifications based on race. But, as Eugene Volokh shows, similar doesn't mean exact. There are many differences between the sexes that don't exist between races and Volokh correctly holds that there is strong government interest in acknowledging those differences.

But my opponent says that the state has "no compelling reason to prohibit gay marriage". Could he be right? In the word of Glenn Reynolds, "heh".

Bullock's entire support for saying this comes from a statement from the American Psychiatric Association that admits that,

It should be acknowledged that research on lesbian and gay parents and their children is still very new and relatively scarce. Less is known about children of gay fathers than about children of lesbian mothers. Little is known about development of the offspring of gay or lesbian parents during adolescence or adulthood. Sources of heterogeneity have yet to be systematically investigated. Longitudinal studies that follow lesbian and gay families over time are badly needed.


So, that's it? That's the whole hook on which he's going to hang that big ol' scary brain-covering hat? The APA, no friend to maintaining traditional marriage is telling us that essential information hasn't been investigated or is "badly needed". But on this Bullock is willing to say that everything is fine here, just fine, thank you. No compelling interest to see. Move along.

But there is a compelling interest. I explained it in my Opening Argument and I'll summarize it again to make it even clearer.

1) There is hard evidence that say that legalizing gay marriage has an adverse impact on traditional marriage. It has caused a decrease in those marriages and a huge increase in out-of-wedlock births.
2) Children born out of wedlock, or in families that are not traditional marriages are more likely to have serious problems into adulthood.
3) That both of these are true demonstrate that gay marriage is detrimental to society.

I'm going back to that study because it's an important part of the argument. Mr. Kurtz studies the data from the official government sources going back to before gay marriage was legalized in three Scandinavian countries and continued them to the last year there was solid data. His conclusions have been debated extensively but they still hold up. But why there? What does Scandinavia have to do with the United States? Well, it's a harbinger of how things will likely play out here if we do what they have done. We can look at the effects on marriage there and reasonably believe that they same dynamics will apply to us also. Of course, the mapping isn't perfect. Scandinavian countries have almost no underclass - something we do have that will be heavily impacted by the further degradation of traditional marriage (as it is in England right now). They also have more extensive welfare benefits for buoying up broken families, which means that there is less likelihood that children who belong to families like those will be poor. There is every indication that we will feel the effects more acutely because of these.

So what we're left with is a dubious case that gay marriage would be beneficial for society and strong evidence to suggest that it would not. Despite this, my opponent wants to forever change marriage


Bullock's entire argument to me rests on two statements: 1) "You're a segregationist", and 2) "I'm too cool to be having this debate". As it happens, neither one are even close to true.

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