First, let me say that I feel doubly guilty about putting this post here.  Partly because Eric, who allows me to graciously blog here, disagrees with me on gay marriage.  Partly because the reason I’m putting the post here is that I’m finishing a book and don’t want to have to deploy the ban hammer over at my place because it takes me an awful lot of time, since I’m not techy at all.  Eric doesn’t ban people, and besides I can hide and not read comments until the furor passes.

To begin with, I had no clue the whole mess was before the Supreme Court until I started being 1/5th of instapundit for this week.  You see, again, I’ve been writing, and because of that no more than glancing at facebook.  Yes, I had noticed the people with the equal sign icon, but you know, my glasses are out of whack and I swear I thought they were two bacon strips, and that the kids would eventually explain the meme to me.  Then I started posting at insty. No wonder Glenn needed a vacation.  My mailbox is afloat in gay marriage posts pro and against with requests to link.  And most of them make me want to reach through the internet, grab hold of two heads and bring them together with a resounding thwack.  All the more so when I LIKE these people.

It’s always a bad idea to get up the nose of a berserker, because if she can’t kill anything (and Dan says I can’t kill the neighbors or even politicians, dang it) she will rant in a post.

Let me start by saying of all the possible ways to legalize gay marriage in all possible manners in every possible country in the world, this supreme court gambit is the worst possible.  All it will do is encourage central, statist control.

Let me also say that I agree with Eric that there is a downside even to the best case scenario of gay marriage.  This was brought home yesterday by Megan Mcardle’s article on how everyone WILL BE EXPECTED to get married.  I see what Eric sees, a future in which any love/sexual association outside marriage will be viewed with deep suspicion, and as a libertarian I disapprove.

On the other hand that sort of backlash, like a lot of other backlash against the sixties might be inevitable.  We tried the other extreme, and we’ve seen the bitter fruits.  The only question we might be allowed, in the end, is “should gays be forced (kicking and screaming) back into the closet?  Or should they be expected to marry like everyone else?  At least until the backlash passes in fifty years or so.

And my answer is “I’d rather a future hypothetical gay descendant of mine knew that marriage was expected, because it’s probably better for most people.  And having been in a form – political – of the closet, I don’t think anyone is improved by living in it.”

That said, again, we’d be trying something quite new in the history of the world (we already are – more on that later — ) and because of that it would behoove us to proceed carefully with the experiment, here and there first, and slowly, and for that the “laboratory of states” was invented.  (For a lot of other things too.  Which is why giving more power to los federales is a bad idea.)

So – That is my caution to all my gay friends, who are impatient and want “equality” (things are never “equal.”  Similarity might be attained.)  It’s not that I don’t understand your urgency, but the problem you have is ALREADY too much power goes to the central government, so that if central government doesn’t recognize your contracts, you can’t inherit without penalties, or have equal rights over the kids, or any of it.  The only solution is to take marriage out of the realm of government altogether and into the realm of “contract between consenting human adults.”  (And no, I’m not even specifying the number.  I think polygamy is its own punishment, but I know people who have been in group marriages for decades.  Okay.  I’m a science fiction writer, remember?  My people are ODD.  I’m so normal by comparison that I’m ALMOST too strange.)

Now, the other side of the coin – this very odd idea that marriage was “always” between a man or a woman, that it is some sort of natural law, that it will continue to be some form of natural law and that it will never/should never change.

I don’t know whether to laugh at the historical ignorance or cry at the fact the people saying this are SMART people who should know better.

Arguably the “natural” form of coupling for our species, if it is the same as for our nearer relatives is the harem.  And the harem was for a long time the only form of “marriage.”  This is because women are weaker than men, men get greater reproductive advantage out of impregnating many women, and in a primitive world with high infant mortality and high birth-giving mortality, it made sense to have a string of disposable women who could give the man many children, some of which would survive.

That changed.  Yes, Judeo Christianity played a not inconsiderable role, but it wasn’t ALL because of that.  It was because civilization had become… civilization.  Men could get greater reproductive advantage from having a woman who was a help-meet and who worked alongside them.  This made them more prosperous and allowed them to raise more kids.  Most men were still serially monogamous, because most women still died giving birth, but marriage was now viewed as an alliance between families – primarily.  I.e. if you married only one (sometimes two) woman at a time and treated her well, both her family and yours helped, and more kids survived.  Also it was not a contract of equals.  In general (if not everywhere) the woman was the only one against whom adultery truly counted.  This makes sense since if a woman is unfaithful the man can’t be sure of the paternity of the children he’s raising.

These were still not, in any sense “marriage.”  Not the way we see it, not a thing of love, which only came around in the renaissance.

I’m always almost touched by my gay friends who scour archives to find documents of gay marriage in the Middle Ages. It’s sweet and wishful.  And insane. Leaving aside how many of these are real, marriage… it wasn’t “marriage, marriage.”

In a world with scant law enforcement and few structures to make what people wished to happen enforceable, people often made use of whatever structure to do what they wanted.  Say a couple of Lords happened to have sons and they wanted to unite their lands.  I can totally see a “marriage contract” drawn up, even if these guys were totally straight, never slept together, and in fact sleeping together wasn’t expected of them.  They were simply expected to become an economic unit.  “Marriage” was a different beast.

No, I’m not saying that men and women did not marry for love.  We have poems and stories going back very far.  I’m saying that it was not the main reason for marriage, and most of the people who ended up in love married for other considerations.  (And any “gay marriage documents found are just documents on the property.  Whether two Lords had sons who were “a little funny” and decided to make it “legal” is secondary.  It might even have happened, here and there, once or twice.)

Then in the renaissance, marriage became about love.  Oh, it was about other considerations too, but the IDEAL marriage was for love.  Romeo and Juliet when produced was still revolutionary and shocking.

And then…

And then things changed.  The beginning of change was contraception and ‘female liberation’ in the sense that it was no longer frowned upon for women to work and in fact it was expected of women to work outside the home, and to be educated as men were, and… and… and…

Women have worked before, of course (the prosperity to have housewives is recent) but they were never before expected to be equal to men in their work situation.  (Couldn’t, not when they weren’t pregnant all the time.)

Even just the education of women, lead to a whole lot of late marriage, and delayed fertility, which since our species is set to reproduce in our late teens, led to a whole lot of infertility treatments and its becoming “normal.”

First of all the “liberation” led us to expect two-earning-couples, or at least two partners who work together towards a material goal.  There isn’t one who works and one who receives.  You don’t marry to “look after the little lady.”  People are supposed to marry for love, and it’s supposed to be a contract of equals.

And second, it NORMALIZED a lot of processes which, though possibly available in SOME FORM the middle ages or even fifty years ago, weren’t easy.  I mean a gay couple could always have hired a woman to have a baby for them, but it would be her egg, it wouldn’t be easy to stake a legal claim and it was all very difficult.

Nowadays – as a mostly infertile woman, I KNOW this stuff, though I never resorted to it (never had enough money) – you can choose the egg donor from a catalog, contract a surrogate mother (the cheapest are in India) and become a parent with startling ease and less cost than our infertility treatments twenty five years ago.  (This process would have been even cheaper, had it been available 25 years ago, because my eggs were fine.  It’s the pregnancies that don’t work out.  And I suspect many gay couples get a donated egg from a female relative of the parner.)  It runs around 15k, I understand.

Given those two things… well… can you see why gay couples look around and go “Why are we being held as different?  Why don’t we get the same legal rights as the rest of the world?”

Having been friends with gay couples, the division of labor is not very different from what my husband and I have, nor, frankly, is the dynamic, even though PARTICULARLY FOR OUR SET we’re almost stodgily traditional.  Couple mechanics are couple mechanics, and not that different.  And individuals always vary.

So, yeah, of course in the past gays didn’t want marriage.  It would have seemed very odd.  Most marriages produced children (usually more than two) and gay couples by definition didn’t.  The function of one spouse was to look after the other through pregnancies, and… well… that made no sense, did it?

Now, reproducing requires a volitional decision and many hetero marriages decide against kids from the beginning, while many gay couples start saving for the baby the day they get together.  If marriage is the function by which society brings up the next generation… which is a marriage?

Again, I’m not for the government defining marriage.  I favor kicking this to the individuals, not any state.  Let individuals decide what marriage is.  BUT I’m not an idiot.  I know I’m not most people.  So I favor leaving it in the hands of individual states and getting the big nose of the feds out of it. Yeah, some will screw up.  Yep, people will move.  Let them.  Moving between states is not onerous enough to justify a clamp down on every state by a fed who knows nothing of individual conditions.

As for federal inheritance taxes… EXCUSE ME.  Wasn’t that money taxed when it was made?  Why are we even putting up with such an unreasonable seizure of assets?

My guess is this will all blow over in twenty years.  Why? Because gay and straight marriage IN FUNCTIONALITY have already met in the middle.  They are relationships of “equals’ as rights and duties go (no one is ever equal.)

And they provide a relationship with intangibles.

The “intangibles” that marriage – any marriage – provides right now, hinge on the ability to make two individuals one legally.  Let me explain.  My husband and I decided thirty years ago that I’d write and hopefully (fingers crossed, it might work) support us as we aged (we knew it had a long break-in period.)  Meanwhile I’d be support system for his career and raise the kids.  THE ONLY REASON I COULD DO THAT was that I knew, should he die suddenly, or should he hit his forties and want a sleeker model, I was legally protected.  Under the law we were a unit.  Working for his success was working for my success.

The idea that gay marriage is “all about the sex” is idiotic.  There is no benefit in getting married just to have sex.  (Unless you’re very ugly, I suppose.)  Gay men (and women, particularly when it wasn’t known that women could be lesbians, or it was willfully ignored) have been having all the sex they wanted, pretty much always.  I understand even in some Arab countries, the danger is not the sex, but people thinking you’re in love.

Marriage, if anything, makes it harder to break up, harder to divide property, harder to tell your family you screwed up.  Which of course, encourages long run relationships.  It’s too much trouble to break up.  It’s not (just) walking away.  It gets you through the rough patches.  And that’s another of the intangibles.  That and the ability to be two people who function like one.

Society does have an interest in the raising of children.  Right now we’re doing a bang up job of it.  Yes, a mom and dad are ideal, but I have friends raised by gay couples, who are better adjusted than I am.  STABILITY of the relationship seems more important than gender of parents.  Stability is encouraged by marriage.  Prosperity is encouraged by marriage too.  Heck, arguably the spread of illness is slowed down by marriage even if some of them (gay and straight) aren’t exactly monogamous.  (But most people will at least try, if that’s what society expects.)

MY vote would be to yank government out of it, develop a central registry and have people draw contracts.  In emotional affairs as in economic ones, individuals know their interests best.

My vote is against letting the federal government beat the states, and/or the states beat the churches and the individuals into going against their consciences.

BUT at this point, we CAN mess up this transition badly, but we CAN’T stop gay marriage.  We can make it the kind of wound that takes a century to heal, but we can’t stop it permanently (Except by destroying our present level of tech and our civilization.) That started when sex and reproduction became uncoupled and women became “just like men in career and social function.”

One way or another it will come, our only choice is whether it will be used to destroy individual and state rights or to enhance them.

At this point, we’re just arguing whether the boxes we’ll all get pushed into are going to be pink or purple or yellow.

Like all discussions about small differences, they’re very heated.

And they’re providing the larcenous, reprehensible people in DC with the distraction they need, while they put their boot on our neck.

Let’s cool it with the marriage wars.  The resolution will come, anyway.  Yes, I feel awful for the people waiting, but if the country falls apart before that… it could become much, much uglier, not just for gays but for everyone (particularly those of us a little different.  Hey, I only said I was normal for science fiction!) Right now, let’s worry more about the power wars.  And not give the right b*stards in DC more power than we need to.

Cool it, ya’ll.  Don’t make me reach through the internet and bang heads together.