Sam Schulman Doesn’t Know Any Gay People

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2009

Sam Schulman, writing for the Weekly Standard, has dredged up a whole host of quaint nineteenth century-style arguments to explain why same-sex marriage “won’t work.” He seems to believe that same-sex marriage will always be different because of “the duties that marriage imposes on married people — not rights, but rather onerous obligations — which do not apply to same-sex love.” Duties like prevention of rape and the protection of a lady’s honor. That’s right, it facilitated the protection of a woman’s “virginity until the time came when marriage was permitted or, more frequently, insisted upon.” Schulman continues:

“Virginity until marriage, arranged marriages, the special status of the sexuality of one partner but not the other (and her protection from the other sex)–these motivating forces for marriage do not apply to same-sex lovers.”

Well, I guess he has us there.

He goes on to suggest that opposite-sex marriage served as a bulwark against incest and child molestation, but for whatever reason believes that “Gay marriage is blissfully free of these constraints.”

Is it? Really? Are gay people not just as revulsed by incest and child molestation? Especially gay people with children of their own, let alone the rest of us with nieces and nephews and would fight to the death to protect them from predators both inside and outside the family? Does Schulman really believe that such gay people don’t exist?

I actually believe that this is exactly what he believes: that we don’t come from real families and we don’t form bonds of kinship — which is his entire thesis — and that we are blissfully free of the constraints that kinships impose. It’s as if we were put on this earth through some form of abiogenesis and we’ve lived outside the experience of kinship our entire lives. He continues:

Gay marriage may reside outside the kinship system, but it has all the wedding-planning, nest-building fun of marriage but none of its rules or obligations (except the duties that all lovers have toward one another). Gay spouses have none of our guilt about sex-before-marriage. They have no tedious obligations towards in-laws, need never worry about Oedipus or Electra, won’t have to face a menacing set of brothers or aunts should they betray their spouse. But without these obligations–why marry? Gay marriage is as good as no marriage at all.

Schulman clearly doesn’t live in the real world, where 95% of straight people — including young Conservative Christians — have abandoned their guilt about sex before marriage. And he most definitely doesn’t live in mine. If I were to dump my partner or he were to dump me, believe me, there would be a line of angry in-laws, brothers, aunts and uncles lined up to beat the living tar out of whoever the offending party might be.

But someone who hasn’t spent any time about gay people would never know any of this, would he? But he does get to write columns as if he did. Maybe the Weekly Standard ought to hire me to write a column on the merits of the NCAA football bowl system. That way, I too could be paid to whip up an intricate opinion about something of which I have no relevant or working knowledge.

Just like he did.


May 26th, 2009

my gosh.

that’s about the most insane thing I’ve ever read. I don’t even know where to start. this man may need an award!

paul j stein

May 26th, 2009

Seems as if the Weekly Standard has no standards.

Christopher Waldrop

May 26th, 2009

Unbelievable. And yet at the same time I’m glad. I’m glad because it reveals the shallowness of the arguments of opponents of same-sex marriage. Honestly, if Schulman has to go back to the 19th Century, back to antiquated notions of marriage as a way to protect a woman’s virginity (which is a distortion, since it was really about treating women as property), and if that’s the best argument opponents of same-sex marriage can come up with, bring it on.

And as for the idea that same-sex couples don’t “save themselves for marriage”, Schulman should avoid such broad generalizations. While it may be true that most same-sex couples may have sex before marriage, that doesn’t mean all do. And if Schulman really has a problem with people having pre-marital sex, there’s a simple solution: allow same-sex couples to marry. As long as they’re denied the right to marry their only choices are celibacy or sex outside of marriage, which is kind of a catch-22.

Christopher Waldrop

May 26th, 2009

One more thing: even though I hated to give The Weekly Standard any traffic, I went and checked out the article. They don’t allow comments. Paul, you’re right. They have no standards, and don’t allow any opposing views. Don’t confuse them with the facts.


May 26th, 2009

“He goes on to suggest that opposite-sex marriage served as a bulwark against incest and child molestation,…”

Well, I think we should outlaw opposite-sex marriage then in this case, because if it’s supposed to prevent incest and child molestation it’s been falling down on the job! That is, if all those men (and women lately) that have been happily heterosexually married while molesting their students, scout troops, church youth group members, etc. are anything to go by. Bang up job, there straight marriage!

This guy really has some problems with reality. I’m pretty sure that most people don’t see traditional marriage as a way to protect women from rape anymore and haven’t for say the last 100 years or so. And how he can justify claiming that gay people don’t form the same social and familial bonds that heterosexual people do is beyond me. What a nutcase!


May 26th, 2009

Possibly the best bit of all this is the ad running across the bottom: Palm Springs, it appears, welcomes gay couples.

Oh GoogleAds, you are a wonderful font of ironic juxtapositions.


May 26th, 2009

Wow. And I thought Michael Steele’s tortured logic regarding the financial burden of gay marriage was the most irrational nonsense I’ve ever heard. This ‘Weakly Standerrrrrd’ piece trumps it.

Tedd Adams

May 26th, 2009

Excellent analogy. Your last paragraph absolutely sums up the problem with so much of the drivel that supposedly comes from the opposition… not only are their opinions not based on fact, they are not based on any experience of the matters being discussed!


May 26th, 2009

You were blissfully concise in your response. I was not so successful at keeping my response short on my own blog.


May 26th, 2009

“no tedious obligations towards in-laws” Are you f-ing kidding me?!

I helped mine move & upack, I’ve been on vacations with them, I’ve helped them around the house, and I’ve hated every minute!

Scott P.

May 26th, 2009

He thinks we don’t have in-laws and the troubles that come with them? My sisters-in-law have tried to break us up, sabotage our relationship, introduced him to both men AND women. His mother has been really supportive, treats me wonderfully. When his father died I had to try to hold things together while the bitches (our mutual word for his sisters) were set to claw each others eyes out. I help select the casket, called caterers, fought with the local LDS bishop to hold his service at the ward he chose. I’d be happy to trade him “in-law” troubles anytime!

David C.

May 26th, 2009

To be honest, the specifics of Sam Schulman’s attack on SSM are essentially irrelevant. It is the pattern inherent in it that matters. If we look one level below Jim’s (I believe correct observation) that Schulman appears to believe:

…that we don’t come from real families and we don’t form bonds of kinship … and that we are blissfully free of the constraints that kinships impose.

we see that the deeper subtext of Schulman’s argument is that gay people aren’t human. This is the stock and trade of bigotry: make the target impossible to relate to by destroying the most basic connections between members of the in-group and out-group. It is the fundamental mechanism all haters use to divide and isolate for persecution those they despise.

Watch for this pattern, it’s far more common than most of us might expect, and is almost universal in everything this type of individual says against LGBT people, their relationships, and the way LGBT people approach their duties to society. Bigots love to masquerade as rational when in fact they have only one objective: dehumanization of the target of their hatred.


May 26th, 2009

Wow, he definitely has never seen my wife in a bar fight! He’s also never heard me stick up for her verbally.

As for the “kinship” thing, I think the fact that my female cousin and her male cousin met at our wedding and later married themselves is a kinship tie. She deals very well with my family. I would with her parents if they weren’t estranged, in part because they don’t like her being lesbian, and, hey, her uncle’s family in Canada seem to like me well enough!

By the way, no straight woman I know would tolerate having her virginity “protected” until she’s pushed into marriage by her parents. This really does show how downright misogynistic attitudes dovetail with the anti-SSM cause.


May 26th, 2009

Christopher Waldrop, just so you know you actually can respond to the article. I don’t know if the responses go to the author or what, but there is a link at the top of the page, just below the byline info for responses. You have to register as a user, but it is there if anyone wants to use it.

Let the angry replies begin!!!


May 26th, 2009

“Not only is it not right, it’s not even wrong.” – Wolfgang Pauli

Christopher Waldrop

May 26th, 2009

Kristie, thanks for pointing out the link. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Weekly Standard prints any opposing viewpoints, though.

And I have to just say that I love this particular comment from Schulman:

Few men would ever bother to enter into a romantic heterosexual marriage–much less three, as I have done–were it not for the iron grip of necessity that falls upon us when we are unwise enough to fall in love with a woman other than our mom.

Aside from the ridiculousness of a man who’s been divorced three times talking about the sanctity of marriage, I wonder if he’s shown this article to his wife. Or his mother.


May 26th, 2009

My wife and I raised her sister’s child from the time she (the daughter) was 14.

And NOW he tells us that we don’t have any family obligations?!

Ben in Oakland

May 26th, 2009

David– a very good observation, andone that i have concluded to be the truth. as I have said many time, I don’t think that the oppostion to marriage equality, sodomy laws, DADT, and so on have the lsightest thing to do with their alleged subjects. It is always aobut how much the very existence of gay people bothers some straight people, and some who wanna be straight but ain’t.

Here is the subtext of domestic-partnership-is-good enough for you. Having read in other blogs the commentary of people who SAY they are fine with DP, but marriage belongs to straight people. If we are allowed to marry, then by definiton, we are “normal”. DP recognizes that we have claim on society, but it doesn’t normalize us. It still sets us, our families, and lives apart, as another species.

Christopher Waldrop

May 26th, 2009

Ben, thank you. I’ve talked to people who’ve said they have no problem with giving same-sex couples all the rights and benefits of marriage but they just don’t want to call it “marriage”. That bothered me, but I could never articulate why. Now I have an argument. Creating a special category for same-sex couples sets them up as separate but not necessarily equal.

I don’t know whether any organizations or businesses have taken the step of saying, “we recognize marriages but not domestic partnerships”, but, if they do, it will make the need to extend marriage–and call it marriage–to same-sex couples even more important.

Jason D

May 26th, 2009

Ben, I’m all for it.
DP and CU cannot be equal to marriage. There is an obvious logical flaw that you hinted at.
If we’re good enough to have the rights, but not the name, then a Domestic Partnership/Civil Union is not, and CAN NOT be equal to a Marriage.
By creating a separate name, you create a subclass of people. Those who’s relationship is not good enough for the word “marriage”.

If we are equal, then there is no justifiable reason for a separate name. It would be pointlessly redundant. The fact that some people feel that a separate name is necessary indicates they do not feel we are equal.

To give over the full array of rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples, you would simply let them marry. To give them everything but the name is to give 9/10ths of the equality.

This is not about calling an apple an orange. This is about the fact that they are both fruits, but some people want to call one a Fruit and the other a Civil Plant Ovary.

Ben in Oakland

May 26th, 2009

You are welcome, Christopher. But the key word is “normal”, not “equal”. and thank you, Jason. As always, you are spot on. (Did you see where I once wrote that you are my second favorite opinion maker)?

I want to write something at length about this, but frankly, I have too much to do right now. And I’m tired.

but this much. Ironically enough, it was Alan chambers who gave mne my first inkling of this when he made some statement that had gay marriage been available to him, he might never have been able to straighten himself out–not that he has. There were some other comments around that that got me thinking.

Then there is a formerly gay guy posting at huffpost who actually clued me in on it. He said in his postings that he had no problems with gay people having DP or CU’s, but marriage was going to be only for hets (and-wanna-be-hets-but-ain’t)like him. He was fairly ugly on the subject in some ways, very very defensive. It was fairly clear to me that like chambers, he needed people to validate his decision to be heterosexual, yet unlike many ex-gays, he didn’t insist on it for others.

but this he did insist on. And that is when it hit me that marriage would normalize gay people in his eyes, which would then invalidate his decision. but separate but equal would not. The supreme irony, of course, is that he is a black man.

Christopher Waldrop

May 26th, 2009

Ben, I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. In the future I’ll use your argument because it makes it clear that gay people are normal, and the granting of marital equality to same-sex couples recognizes that fact.

Some people may think such parsing is nitpicking, but I appreciate you reminding me that the difference between “equal” and “normal” in many peoples’ minds is pretty big.

Richard W. Fitch

May 26th, 2009

This whole episode underlines again for me the need for government to get out of the “marriage business”. It is one of the last vestiges of the coterminous sway of the “Church as Society” from the days of Constantine to the Age of Enlightenment. Give religious bodies the right to control the sacraments of marriage, but clearly define all the legal rights and responsibilities of contracts between consenting adults who wish to establish themselves as an intimate social unit. It may take years to find the right “name” for this but the concept cannot no longer be evaded.


May 26th, 2009

yes, this discussion actually sheds some light on Sam’s incoherent thought process.

It’s the normalizing effect of the word marriage not the equalizing effect that’s so critical. When you think of Bobby and Billy being married you think of their kinship ties, and their passage from bachelors to caring husbands, and their interconnections to the web of the human family.

But thinking of Bobby and Billy as “partners” in a “civil union” then most people won’t see those connections. You don’t see them as two people that maintain loving responsible relationships with each other and their families. Apparently, Sam just thinks: fun, fun, fun.

Jason D

May 26th, 2009

Richard, I used to be allured by the Civil-Unions-For-All idea, but it’s impractical and unnecessary.

Christianity didn’t invent marriage, nor do they (or any other religion) hold the patent on it. So why on earth should we surrender it to them? We should not cower to bullies, no matter what form they take.

The tide is turning in our favor, to take on a new idea risks losing the support we do have (even from within our own community). Civil-Unions-For-All is even less realistic than Marriage Equality, and has the potential to be used against us:

“See, they want to completely destroy marriage! They don’t even want us saying the word in public!!”

Does anyone recall the brouhaha when that (previously divorced) straight couple became irate over the “Party A” and “Party B” boxes on their marriage license? They wrote in Bride and Groom and were told they couldn’t edit the form. Nobody said they couldn’t call themselves Bride and Groom, but apparently a government form is no place for dull, pedantically accurate information. I doubt a move to throw out the word “marriage” for everyone would be seen as anything other than an attack.

A lot of people still don’t understand the difference between Civil Marriage and the Religious Institution. Do you honestly expect them to understand that their relationship is being rebranded as a Civil Union?

Ben in Oakland

May 26th, 2009

As always, Jason, right on.

Christopher Waldrop

June 11th, 2009

As a possible final thought on this, I went and looked up the June 8th issue of The Weekly Standard to see if there was any response to Schulman’s article. There wasn’t, but I found something even more shocking: The Weekly Standard doesn’t publish letters from readers. They’re not interested in outside opinions, even when those opinions concur with their own.

The Weekly Standard is truly an echo-chamber. They criticize “liberal” publications like the New York Times or the Washington Post, but those publications offer a variety of opinions.

Clearly the editors of the Weekly Standard have made up their minds. Don’t confuse ’em with the facts.

has to be kidding

July 27th, 2009

Trust me, he understands pre-marital sex, regretfully, i should know because apparently I f**d the brains right out of his head. And, we definitely never married. Though I have to admit he can still spin a good sentence (even if it’s rubbish).

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