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LogicHead's avatar

IF the gayest society did not recognize gay marriage why do you?

Asked by LogicHead (172points) 2 weeks ago

I just saw a question about gay marriage that seemed to assume that in the most gay of societies such a thing would be approved. IT NEVER WAS
“He [ Scalia ] asked attorney Mary Bonauto, who argued in favor of same-sex marriage, if it were true that homosexual
relationships but not marriages were sanctioned by those cultures.
“When she said yes, Scalia continued, ‘So their exclusion of same-sex marriage was not due to prejudice, right?’
Adding, unless she considered Plato prejudiced.

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13 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

(1) People have a lot of misconceptions about ancient Greece. It was neither a gay utopia nor some homophobic theocracy. It was a society which, like ours, struggled with and debated over all sorts of social issues, including homosexuality. In fact, it was multiple societies spread out over multiple polities with different sets of laws (all of which evolved over time). So while there is a tendency to think of ancient Greece as if it were just Athens (or to superimpose Athenian culture onto Greek culture at large, with the possible exception of Sparta), that is an overly reductive way of thinking about things.

(2) While marriage was a legal/political institution in some ancient Greek polities, it was a private/social institution in others. Athens didn’t sanction any marriages, regardless of whether those involved were of different sexes or the same sex. Sparta had legally recognized marriages, but they also mandated marriage and punished people for not having children. Neither system really works as a model for US law, not least because the place of marriage in society has changed so much over time.

(3) Common to most ancient Greek societies was a distinction between marriage as a domestic contract and relationships as a source of romantic and sexual fulfillment. Indeed, romantic and sexual relationships were often seen as something to be pursued separate from marriage. It is in this context that we see praise for same-sex relationships in ancient Greece. But as modern the modern conception of marriage has moved away from mere domestic partnership and emphasized the role of romantic and sexual fulfillment, we have had to accommodate into one institution what used to be considered separate (though not necessarily mutually exclusive) functions.

(4) There were same-sex unions in ancient Greece (as well as most other ancient cultures). Again, marriage was a social institution in many ancient Greek polities with varying levels of ceremony and ritual surrounding it. In such societies, people of the same-sex could get married even if most of their fellow citizens disapproved of it so long as they were capable of enacting whatever ceremony was culturally required. This wasn’t possible in all polities, of course, but it was possible in some of them.

(5) Social approval has never been the test for whether a marriage is legitimate in the US. Plenty of people disapprove of interracial marriages. Plenty of parents disapprove of their child’s spouse. And celebrity marriages are subjected to all sorts of scrutiny, much of it disapproving. But that doesn’t constitute a reason for not recognizing those marriages. In Loving v. Virginia (1967), the US Supreme Court declared marriage to be “one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.” Once that declaration was made, state recognition of same-sex marriages in the US was more or less inevitable. And the Loving decision was, in fact, cited by the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).

(6) It does not follow from “same-sex relationships were sanctioned but same-sex marriages were not” that “prejudice wasn’t the reason for the exclusion.” If one institution is held in higher esteem than the other, then a prejudiced person might believe that some people are only “good enough” for the lesser of the two institutions. This isn’t to say that such prejudices were in play in ancient Greece. To the extent that there was exclusion, it was more about the perceived function of marriage than its status (and again, the perceived function of marriage has changed over time). The point is just that one point does not logically follow from the other.

(7) Plato became increasingly homophobic over time, as evidenced by the differences in his early, middle, and late writings. And in any case, Plato was skeptical of sexuality in general. He was suspicious of all things physical, after all, and he viewed heterosexual sex as an unfortunate prerequisite for procreation. If we truly decided to take him as our guide, we would create children solely through in vitro fertilization using gametes from only the most elite members of society and exterminate anyone born in a different way.

Caravanfan's avatar

@SavoirFaire Gave you way more of the time of day than this question deserved. Fascinating answer, thanks!

Also, the Sacred Band of Thebes was an elite military legion of homosexual soldier male pairs. So they allowed “gays in the military” thousands of years ago. (The legion was later wiped out by Philip of Macedon, Alexander’s father)

kritiper's avatar

I don’t recognize it. I don’t consider it at all in any way.

Pandora's avatar

Lets look at what gay marriage really is about. Its not about needing the approval of straight society. It’s about 2 people who want to love each other and have all the same rights as a straight couple. Marriage is a contract and if 2 same-sex people want to make it officials so that they can collect social security and pay the same taxes as any other married couple than it should be their right and no one else’s business. The religious right want to impose their beliefs on everyone. It is not their right to do so and if they want to do that, they are more than free to go to a nation that doesn’t have laws that protects people from getting prosecuted because they do not have the same faith or any faith at all.
It’s all bull. I’m a straight Christian but I was born and raised in a free nation. Not just freedom for straight people, nor not just for Christians, nor just for whites, I think when others are free to practice their faith and how they love (so long as it doesn’t hurt the other person they love) then it protects my freedom as well. It’s 2020. When the hell are people going to grow up and mind their own damn business.

Demosthenes's avatar

I wouldn’t care if I was one of three gay people in the country, I would still support same-sex marriage. I support it on principle, not on how many people are gay or approve of homosexuality.

doyendroll's avatar

@LogicHead IF the gayest society did not recognize gay marriage why do you?

Because it’s legal, because I’m well educated, and because I’m not a proselytising homophobe intent upon fomenting hatred.

Thanks for asking. What are your reasons?

jca2's avatar

@LogicHead: Is there a link to the full conversation you’re referencing?

LogicHead's avatar

Do you mistrust long answers like I do? Savoir Faire never comes right out and say “True” or “False”. Say what you want but I put SF up against Plato and Socrates

GORGIAS SOCRATES: And here, Callicles, I would have you consider how you would reply if consequences are pressed upon you, especially if in the last resort you are asked, whether the life of a HOMOSEXUAL] is not terrible, foul, miserable? Or would you venture to say, that they too are happy, if they only get enough of what they want? CALLICLES: Are you not ashamed, Socrates, of introducing such topics into the argument? SOCRATES: Well, my fine friend, but am I the introducer of these topics, or he who says without any qualification that all who feel pleasure in whatever manner are happy, and who admits of no distinction between good and bad pleasures? And I would still ask, whether you say that pleasure and good are the same, or whether there is some pleasure which is not a good? CALLICLES: Well, then, for the sake of consistency, I will say that they are the same. SOCRATES: You are breaking the original agreement, Callicles, and will no longer be a satisfactory companion in the search after truth, if you say what is contrary to your real opinion. CALLICLES: Why, that is what you are doing too, Socrates. SOCRATES: Then we are both doing wrong. Still, my dear friend, I would ask you to consider whether pleasure, from whatever source derived, is the good; for, if this be true, then the disagreeable consequences which have been darkly intimated must follow, and many others.

jca2's avatar

I’m looking for a link that discusses this, your quote in the original post, @LogicHead:

“He [ Scalia ] asked attorney Mary Bonauto, who argued in favor of same-sex marriage, if it were true that homosexual relationships but not marriages were sanctioned by those cultures. “When she said yes, Scalia continued, ‘So their exclusion of same-sex marriage was not due to prejudice, right?”

SavoirFaire's avatar

@LogicHead My apologies for putting more effort into my answer than you were expecting. In order to suit your tastes, here is a quick summary:

• Ancient Greece wasn’t the “gayest” society.
• Ancient Greece wasn’t just Athens.
• Some Greek polities didn’t sanction any marriages.
• Modern marriage merges two concepts that ancient societies kept separate.
• There were, in fact, same-sex marriages in ancient cultures (including ancient Greece).
• Social approval is not the criterion for whether or not someone deserves basic rights.
• The US Supreme Court declared marriage a basic right in 1967.
• Scalia’s reasoning is illogical.
• Plato was, in fact, prejudiced.

And since I wouldn’t want to overly tax you, I will keep my response to your latest response equally brief:

• Your original question does not contain anything that could receive a true/false answer.
• The word that actually appears in translations of the Gorgias is not “homosexual.”
• It is telling that you felt the need to remove the original word and replace it.
• The most common word in translations is “catamite.”
• The actual word in the Greek is κίναιδος.
• Neither of those words means “homosexual,” particularly in the context of the Gorgias.

There’s quite a bit of relevant detail here, but I will leave it out so as to not offend your delicate sensibilities regarding answer length. And I assume that you will not bring up any of those important details as objections in whatever response to me you may post, since that would expose you as a dishonest interlocutor (which surely you are not).

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Caravanfan Doing my best. Also, your Sacred Band of Thebes example was spot on.

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