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Just Enjoy the Sparkly Lights

Rob Tisinai

July 10th, 2013

“Jennifer Thieme is the Director of Finance for the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage Education Fund.”

That’s according to the Ruth Institute’s website. Jennifer is frustrated with libertarians who support same-sex marriage, and especially those who think the government should get out of marriage altogether. Her arguments are so astounding that I cannot understand them. I can only be entertained by them. For instance:

First, I do not think it is realistic to believe the government will actually get out of marriage, especially once the definition of marriage becomes sexless (genderless) as a widespread policy. Sexless marriage as a policy is what must happen in order to allow gay couples to marry. It wasn’t fair that only straight women could be brides, and only straight men could be grooms. So now no woman gets to be a bride, and no man gets to be a groom in same sex marriage states. The state will not likely give up the increased power it gets over individuals, children, and the church as this change gains traction.

That was like a tour through an Escher drawing. Here’s another bit:

Fourth, and perhaps most important to my claim that its a red herring: no legislator is proposing any policy to get the government out of marriage. It’s not on the table anywhere, that I am aware. So people who are otherwise articulate and intelligent are being distracted from the real issue. What is being proposed and implemented is to make marriage sexless as a policy. And without sex, traditional marriage ceases to exist. This answers the question sometimes posed by gay marriage supporters:

“How does gay marriage affect YOUR marriage?”

That was akin to a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat, shouting TA DA!, only to find nothing there, and looking so deep into the hat that she falls in and disappears.

But my favorite is this:

Furthermore, father of Marxist thought Friedrich Engels was against traditional marriage. It is not possible to know what sort of stand he would take on the sexless marriage issue. I think it’s very fair to say that his modern day followers support it. It frustrates me that some prominent libertarians refuse to engage an important social policy that socialists support. Does it occur to them why socialists support it?

On second thought, I only like the last one because I can at least follow the faulty reasoning. The first two, though, are such marvels of non sequitur, and offered with such conviction, that it seems they must exist on some surreal plane parallel to our own.

I can’t refute those first two quotes because I can’t analyze them; all I can do is stare at them like hypnotic sparkly lights. So enjoy. And if  part of your pleasure is schadenfreude at the sight of our opponents reduced to assertive incoherence, I won’t judge you.



Timothy Kincaid
July 10th, 2013 | LINK

Engels opposed feeding children to alligators, thus, logically, …

July 10th, 2013 | LINK

Lots of straight people already have sexless marriages

Ben in Oakland
July 10th, 2013 | LINK

Hell, if you wanna sexless marriage, all you need to do is get married, and voila!

Please don’t tell my husband.

Ben in Oakland
July 10th, 2013 | LINK

I’ve a simple answer to those pious sheep and radical libertarians who prattle on about “Biblical marriage” and “Get the government out of marriage.” This argument was NEVER made about marriage until gay people began demanding marriage equality, underlining what this is really about.

And it isn’t, obviously, marriage. But then, it never is whenever the subject of gay people and society come up.

Here it is: if you’re married, get legally divorced. Now. and Whether youre married or not, begin a political campaign to end legal marriage– for everyone. There are many, Many benefits for you..

You remove yourself from a “dying” institution which you no longer see as important because it now includes people you despise, despite your claims of Christian “love”.

You get to remain married within the religious traditions to which you ascribe. God’s word is what matters, isn’t it? Legal marriage is only the state intruding into what should be between you and god.

Less government intrusion: there’s a bonanza for you. You’re free to define your life however you wish. “Marry” your sister, your horse, your toaster, 10 other people. It’s all good. When you wish to end them, you just do. No “big brother” permission required.


The health benefits for your “spouse” are now taxable income, assuming your employer will provide them. You can now spend thousands to draw up all the legal documents that define next of kin, familial relationships, inheritance, hospital visitation, and so on– all the things you could have for less than $100 with the state marriage license you would deny us. But being able to demonstrate your sincerity and conviction will be worth a bit of financial inconvenience, won’t it?

Best of all? You get to experience the legal, economic, and social discrimination that we’ve had to endure for centuries. Maybe it will teach you something. Empathy perhaps?


July 10th, 2013 | LINK

I’d actually like for the government to reduce its involvement in marriage. In the sense that way too many benefits are needlessly tied to marriage. Some things make sense, but at some point it became an automatism. No analysis was done as to whether it actually makes sense to attach some rights or benefit to marriage. Especially in the US. I just can’t understand why things like hospital visitation or medical decision making are tied to being married. Theoretically there are other means like a POA, but it’s difficult, expensive and still frequently ignored.

Richard Rush
July 10th, 2013 | LINK

I’m so confused. I thought sexless marriages are the kind that former homosexuals have.

July 11th, 2013 | LINK

To be fair to Ms Thieme, she likely imagines an ideal world where there is no sex before marriage. Not until marriage does anyone meaningfully achieve a sexual definition. It’s that legal stamp of bride or groom that accords people their sex. Without it, they’re doomed to a sexless existence.

Ms Thieme would appear to be somewhat stricter than the Catholic Church in this regard. I’m quite sure the Vatican will accept that even where same-sex marriage is available in a jurisdiction, heterosexuals within it will still be recognised as married if they acquire the official license. And being married, their sex will be approved and considered correctly ordered. That won’t apply to same-sex couples as far as the church (and doubtless Ms Thieme) are concerned.

July 11th, 2013 | LINK

I have to confess to a fair degree of impatience with the whole “libertarian” idea of getting the government out of marriage — and everything else. As far as I can see, it merely demonstrates a lack of understanding of what government is, which is simply the hunter/forager band writ large: it’s the institutionalized community, the means by which the community governs itself. When the community numbers a couple hundred million people, a town meeting can get kind of unwieldy.

Back to marriage: if marriage is the recognition by the community of the establishment of a new household (a definition that seems to hold more accurately through history and across cultures than anything the right has come up with), then it only makes sense that the government would have to be involved. That license is the community recognition in tangible form; the rights, benefits and obligations that adhere by custom now have legal weight. We as a nation have added to the benefits, as a matter of public policy: marriage does contribute to social stability (although not in the way Ms. Thieme and her fellows would imagine, if they’ve actually thought about it at all), and stability is in the interest of any society.

As for Ms. Thieme, she’s obviously not equipped to engage in any sort of formal discourse on the subject.

July 11th, 2013 | LINK

I have to admit that Ms. Thieme had me at this: “I do not think it is realistic to believe the government will actually get out of marriage”.

I agree with her on this, and something I’ve said to people who offer “get the government out of marriage” as a “compromise” is, if that’s your goal, fine, but until it happens, why should same-sex couples have to wait?

Needless to say she lost me after that.

July 11th, 2013 | LINK


I don’t consider getting the government out of marriage to be a compromise. That’s ceding the field. If not the government, who is going to regulate marriage (because it will be regulated)? The johnny-come-lately Christian churches? Why should they get the honors?

Regan DuCasse
July 11th, 2013 | LINK

The anti gay themselves use such simplistic and narrow terms in which to define something that’s not only more complex than they describe, but they aren’t that accurate in terms of historical context and evolution.
They won’t engage the legal and social reality that there really isn’t a long list of qualifications to have the right to marry, and especially the qualifications they keep listing to defend discrimination.
There is no requirement to be good and moral enough to marry with such noble goals they idealize.
Basically marriage is open to just about anyone with only age minimum, consent, family and marital status the only restrictions.
Anyone is welcome to marry and is encouraged to and the governmental and social benefits are meant to do that.
Gay people have pretty much met the same requirements the law allows.
THAT is the part of the debate the anti gay refuse to believe, but want the laws to contradict.
Even when those laws can’t do it.
This is why the lawsuits to challenge the bans in other states are going to grow exponentially and this is also why those bans were made on the same quicksand as Prop. 8 and DOMA.
The defense of discrimination, isn’t legal now, because gay people meet the same requirements, or there are heterosexuals that would meet the same standards of discrimination.

July 11th, 2013 | LINK

Hunter, I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer. I don’t agree with those who say “the government should get out of marriage”. I should have said my response to people who think that it should is really, “if that’s your goal,then you’re free to try and make it happen.”

I usually then proceed to point out that the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage only exist because of government recognition. Their position is not a compromise of any sort, and in most cases it’s suggested by people who confuse the ceremony with the legal status.

I think Thieme was also attempting to respond to people who suggest that “compromise”. And I agree with her that it’s not a realistic idea. Beyond that, though, she and I part ways.

Mark F.
July 11th, 2013 | LINK

“it merely demonstrates a lack of understanding of what government is, which is simply the hunter/forager band writ large: it’s the institutionalized community, the means by which the community governs itself.”

Nope, the government is an institution which has a legal monopoly on the initiation of aggression.

Chris McCoy
July 11th, 2013 | LINK

Mark F. said:

Nope, the government is an institution which has a legal monopoly on the initiation of aggression.

The Constitution indicates what our Government’s responsibilities are:

– Establish Justice,
– Insure domestic Tranquility,
– Provide for the common defence [sic],
– Promote the general Welfare, and
– Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity[.]

I believe marriage equality falls under both “Promote the general Welfare” and “Secure the Blessings of Liberty.”

That legal monopoly on aggression would be called the military. ;-)

Ben M
July 11th, 2013 | LINK

The idea Mark F mentions seems more related to whom the police and enforcement powers are vested in any given state*. In most modern states these powers are vested within the institutions making up the government, so a government hold the legal monopoly on enforcement of its laws and policies, as well as contracts. It is also most often the system for determining the laws and policies of the state.

*I don’t mean states like New York or Colorado, but the more formal idea of an organized political community, living under a government.

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