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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gay Marriage

History as a subject is in many ways the study of patterns numerous and wholly unreliable. Some few have attempted to treat history as a social science, with amusing results, but for reliable practitioners the order of the day (when it comes to predictions) is wide error margins and general trends.

With one exception.

Given two nations with similar access to resources and reasonably even military might (each nation possesses at least enough military that a prolonged occupation by the other would be economically impossible), the nation with fewer institutionalized restrictions on ways of life will always, without exception, rise above the other. The reason is simple. People (on average) prioritize where they live in the following way, most-important first:

  1. Safety

  2. Fun

  3. Future

What this boils down to (at the end of the day) is that if countries A and B are identical, except that in country B you can wear hats on Sundays and in country A you can't, people in country B will spend their Sundays marching up and down the border making fun of the people in country A for being backward. People in country A will wonder why people in country B can wear hats and they can't, and will either start breaking the law (just to find out what all the fuss is about, at first, but later as a matter of principle), or will move. Country A suddenly finds itself with overpopulated prisons and an emigration problem, where everyone who can afford to move, moves, and everyone who can't afford to move breaks the law.

Now, in America, we don't really have that much fear of brain drain or people moving away. Most other places are less attractive as places to live for a wide variety of reasons, be it simply language, job opportunities, or generalized freedom of [whatever]. Thus, when we speak of restricting freedoms, we often don't consider the effect it will have on the immigration/emigration balance, because it probably won't have any international effect whatsoever.

Which is, incidentally, why folks who want to fight for same-sex marriage should really be fighting for it to be a state-level issue. Brain-drain between states does happen and is a factor, and the “Sunday Hat” effect is almost case-study-perfect since most states are, mostly, exactly the same in terms of what rights you have and how you can live.

If you want to have sex with a fourteen year old girl or get away with polygamy, you move to Utah. If you want to smoke pot, you move to Denver. If you want to blues dance, you move to San Francisco, and if you want to live a nice quiet life in the plains surrounded by other nice Christian folk, you move out somewhere in the rural midwest. People move around all the time within the United States, based on relatively minor differences in living conditions. We make a big ruckus about things like a tax difference of a tenth of a point.

There's a study out ( that has created something it terms the “gay bohemian” index. Essentially what it says is that the most reliable way of predicting prosperity in America is not tracking money or business growth. It is, in fact, tracking the homosexual and artist populations. It takes a little thinking to get through to the point, but here's a short assist:

People in America can generally find a safe place to live in any state or city, if they are so inclined and can afford it. The primary motivator, then, for where they live, is number 2 on the list: Fun. When you want fun, you don't go out and find a good math conference or lecture to attend (well, you might, but you'd be in a gross minority). You go out to the pub, or go listen to a concert, or go hang out in a coffee-shop. My friend in Houston (who I just returned from visiting) initially lived close to where he worked, but moved because he'd rather have a (daily) hour commute to work than a (weekly?) hour commute to fun. The friend who introduced me to the index himself chose the city he was going to live in based on what life would be like there and bought his plane ticket before finding a job. In his case, St. Louis having a dull night life cost it a brilliant engineer.

Fun, in other words, generates population, and population generates income. Business is not fun. Money is not (in itself) fun. Art, music, gaming, dancing, these things are where your fun is at, and who makes the art, music, and dancing? artists, musicians, and DJs.

But why does the gay population tend to follow the bohemian one?

Perhaps because bohemian crowds tend to be more liberal, and liberal crowds tend to be less homophobic. Perhaps a disproportionate amount of the bohemian crowd itself is gay? Who knows. But where those two groups go, prosperity follows, and if you want prosperity, you invite them.

Economically, then, it makes no sense to pass policies that make the base of your prosperity unhappy. Both the bohemian crowd (liberal, remember) and the gay one (gay, remember) tend to find laws restricting the rights of homosexuals to be anathema, and passing such laws tends to make them move elsewhere. California, should it fail to get its act together, has just ensured that whenever a gay couple want to get married, they move, taking their money, artistic contributions, businesses and (often) their friends with them. The wedding itself will happen elsewhere, so a large sum of money will be dumped from your economy into someone else's economy right off the bat. It's a silly, silly policy.

Of course, you could make a religious argument, and many do. But it's a religious argument. What place, exactly, does your religion have in the politics of a free nation? ABSOLUTELY NONE. NONE AT ALL. This is not the case to protect other people from the light of God, it is the case to protect believers from the wrath of nonbelievers. It protects you far more than it protects anyone else. Getting your God into everyone else's business is a sure way to get everyone else's business into your God. There might also be persecution involved. I hear that happens sometimes. Marriage is a civil institution. You, yourselves, fought to make it a civil institution because you wanted people to receive bribes for being monogamous. Well, congratulations, it worked. But now, Marriage is a civil institution.

Civil institutions cannot be closed to specific groups.

You have two options when it comes to gay marriage. Either homosexuality is a choice, or it is not.

If it is a choice, then it falls under the same protections as freedom of religion, or the freedom to choose a political party. In America, we do not persecute people based on the choices they make, so long as those choices do not adversely effect the freedoms of others. If it is not a choice, then either there's nothing wrong with it, or it's a disability/disease/whatever.

In either case, gay people are entitled to all the rights and privileges of straight people, and since marriage is a civil institution, gay people must be entitled to partake.

Civil Unions are not an acceptable compromise. This country has tried “separate but equal” before, and we know how it works out. It doesn't. Why should a nation have two separate (but identical!) laws that do the same things for different groups of people? Well, the obvious reason is so that one law-set can be changed without changing the other. Restrictions can be placed on one group, but not the other. Freedoms can be given to one group, but not the other.

This is unacceptable. This is virtually the definition of un-American, for those of you fond of the phrase.

Proponents of “defining marriage as between a man and a woman” are essentially saying that the rights of married people are dependent on denying those rights to others. The benefits of marriage, in other words, include the benefit of laughing at all the people who don't have your rights.

If your religion doesn't want to give marriages to gays, well fine. That's your right. It is not your right to deny other religions the right to give them.

How does this tie into the beginning of this article?

Inevitability. It is profitable to allow gay marriage because it encourages the immigration of a part of the population which generates prosperity. Thus, given the opportunity, places which allow gay marriages will reap benefits that places who do not allow gay marriage will not reap. Over time, evolution will take its course. The only way proponents of “civil unions” and other such piles of [expletive] will ever win this war is on the national stage.

Gay marriage advocates, the national stage is one you cannot afford to lose. Right now, your opponents want to take the battle to the states. I say, let them. Let it be constitutionally established that gay marriage is a State issue, and then turn the tables state by state. The sure victory is less sweeping and grand than the quick victory, but it has the benefit of being sure.

And if you live in California and they succeed in this idiocy, and show no signs of correcting it... well... vote with your feet, and send letters to your congressman explaining exactly what they're losing with your move. If you run a business, include the amount of taxes they're not going to get every year. Tell them what you make. Tell them what you sell. Tell them what you do. Tell them where you're going. And tell them what they can do to get you back.

I should note, however, that the national stage is an inevitable playing field. I suspect Tiro will be going into more detail, since he disagrees with me on the “let them take it to the states” approach, but suffice to say that the basic issue at hand is defense of minority rights. It should not be the right of any State to restrict minority rights within their boundaries. In America, your rights are your rights, regardless of your race, creed, religion or gender.

In the long run though, time favors the progressive. The longer gay marriage advocates avoid the national fight, the more likely they are to emerge victorious.

The constant attempts to compromise the very founding principle of our democracy (prop 8 et. al.) must be allowed to continue, because the people making them have a right to challenge the system.

Of course, they must never be allowed to succeed, and much like they are fond of saying about homosexuals, “just because we have to allow it doesn't mean we have to like them.”

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