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12:17 AM
Q: Proposal for tagging questions that concern marriage, both traditional and non-traditional forms

fredsbendUPDATE: I've since made most of the changes laid out in this tag proposal. This included the creation of the same-sex-marriage tag, the editing of its excerpt, the removal of gay-marraige, and the editing of the polygamy tag and marriage tag excerpts. To still be done: There may be questions ...

The proposal was made and carried out a while ago, but a new answer has answered in objection to it:
A: Proposal for tagging questions that concern marriage, both traditional and non-traditional forms

Lee WoofendenThis proposal is a case of Christianity.SE tacitly endorsing traditional religious definitions of marriage through its tag system. That is contrary to the nature and guidelines of the StackExchange system of sites. Christianity.SE is a secular site, not a religious one. It does not represent nor...

Comments at time of creating this room:
The tags on this site are meant to serve this site's purposes, therefore the definitions and usage guidelines do not necessarily have to match any real or perceived definitions that exist elsewhere. How US law currently defines marriage is irrelevant to the study of how Christianity is practiced. — fredsbend 19 mins ago
Additionally, your concession that a same-sex-marriage tag is still useful reveals that at least in your own mind you agree that, to this site's audience, dividing "marriage" and "same-sex marriage" into separate things is useful. And you would be correct to note that. It is abundantly clear that the first thought on most people's mind after hearing "marriage" in a Christianity context is not "same-sex-marriage". — fredsbend 19 mins ago
If your objection made sense, you would offer instead that marriage tag be renamed as to exclude same-sex marriage from its definition and usage to something like "traditional-marriage" or "opposite-sex-marriage". Then of course for consistency we should also decide that polyamory is the same thing as well, so we will need to include that in the renaming of the marriage tag to something like "monogamous-opposite-sex-marriage". But just so we aren't confusing anybody, I opt for "traditional-monogamous-opposite-sex-this-is-ridiculous-marriage". — fredsbend 19 mins ago
Leaving it as "marriage" is a consideration in brevity and existing usage. It is certainly not a tacit endorsement of any persuasion. — fredsbend 18 mins ago
@fredsbend I am surprised that you are defending "traditional marriage" so strongly. It's not as though even all Christians define it that way. There are large Christian denominations that include same-sex marriage in their definition of marriage. To adopt the definition of one branch of Christianity in preference to that of another is, once again, to impose religious definitions on a secular site. — Lee Woofenden 11 mins ago
@fredsbend I would support the addition of a "heterosexual marriage" tag as well. Then "marriage" would be in the nature of a general category, and the various other tags would be sub-categories within the main category. — Lee Woofenden 10 mins ago
FYI, I believe this is a very important issue—important enough to appeal to the parent company about it. Defining "marriage" as the site currently does will mark this site as a religious site. It will also align this site with conservative Christianity. And it will be seen by a broad swath of the Western public as being discriminatory. I do not think that the parent company would want one of its sites to be taking such a discriminatory stance. — Lee Woofenden 7 mins ago
Lee made a few comments in the Upper room:
in The Upper Room, 5 mins ago, by Lee Woofenden
@fredsbend I think the current definition could mark this site as a discriminatory site in the minds of a broad swath of its users. I do not think the parent company would want that in one of its sites. If you want to set up a separate chatroom, I would be happy to discuss it there.
in The Upper Room, 4 mins ago, by Lee Woofenden
But as I said in my comments there, I think this is a very important issue. And I'm actually quite fired up about it. It's important enough, I think, that I am seriously considering appealing to the parent company.
in The Upper Room, 4 mins ago, by Lee Woofenden
I do not think they would want one of their sites to be seen as a discriminatory site that takes a conservative Christian stance against even the liberal end of Christianity, let alone the public as a whole, which has clearly expressed its majority support for defining "marriage" as including same-sex marriage.
@fredsbend Feel free to appeal to SEI, but I'm fairly certain they won't care too much. They are very hands off in how sites choose to define themselves.
Judaism.SE, for example, is pretty staunchly about orthodoxy and not anything else. They'll tolerate other questions to a point, but only so far.
And SEI doesn't seem to care. I don't know for sure, but I'd bet there's some tags that you or someone else might find offensive in their definition.
And I think SEI shouldn't care. Though their staff may have opinions, it's quite clear that the contributions to the SE sites from the users belong to the users and are given under the creative commons license.
Anyone conflating the words of any individual post, or any other user-generated content, of an SE site with an official opinion of SEI's is engaging in willful ignorance.
@fredsbend I'm not defending any kind of marriage. I'm defending what I think is the most useful way to tag questions on these topics.
Should this site really be supporting conservative Christianity against liberal Christianity?
12:34 AM
@fredsbend If you insist and the community at large wants it as well, I would be fine with "opposite-sex-marriage" or something similar, but I believe it is unnecessarily verbose because I believe that most users of the site, now and into the foreseeable future, would think "one man, one woman" first upon seeing the "marriage" tag.
@LeeWoofenden Loaded question. I don't think the tag definitions and usage guidelines support anything over anything else.
But back on renaming the tag possibly, I suggest a separate meta post, @LeeWoofenden
Would you object to "traditional-marriage"?
@fredsbend Just try to make that argument with people who belong to any Christian denomination that supports same-sex marriage. And I dare you to try to make that argument with any gay or lesbian person. Exclusion from marriage is one of the main bases for their charges of discrimination on the part of traditional Christianity.
The very act of defining marriage on this site as a marriage between one man and one woman would be seen as highly discriminatory by a large percentage of the population of the Western world.
@LeeWoofenden So a rename then. What would be the best rename?
@fredsbend If one tag is going to be "same-sex marriage," the corresponding tag should be equivalent, such as "opposite-sex marriage." Having "traditional marriage" in apposition with "same-sex marriage" is really not ideal.
opposite-sex-marriage is most analogous to the other.
traditional-marriage I suspect you'd find offensive, for reasons that escape me.
heterosexual-marriage is just as bad as homosexual-marriage.
@fredsbend It is not neutral. "Traditional" carries the sense of being better than non-traditional the way it is used by the people who use that term.
"Heterosexual marriage" would probably be more objectionable to traditionalists than "opposite-sex marriage."
Still, the main point is that this is a secular site, not a religious one. The definitions should be ones that are acceptable to secular society--especially on such hot-button issues.
12:44 AM
The definitions should be those that are considered most useful by those that use the site.
There are atheists and liberal Christians who use this site regularly.
Undoubtedly. Thus the need for a consensus among users. All users.
@fredsbend I'm not convinced that we should dump the generic "marriage" tag. There are legitimate questions about marriage that don't hinge on whether it is same-sex or opposite sex.
@MattGutting There will never be consensus among all users on this issue. Requiring that is tantamount to saying that the issue is unresolvable therefore we must just keep the tags the way they are. I think that's the wrong way to approach it.
I don't think your "therefore" follows.
@MattGutting What do you think we should do about the tags?
Mkay, gtg now.
12:52 AM
Not sure. I do have an answer or at any rate a response to the meta question.
@LeeWoofenden We had the same discussions about the word "cult" on Again, how a word is used in the vernacular should have little bearing on how this site uses it.
Would common-marriage be better? What about old-style-marriage? The word "traditional", outside of the contextual usage of some offensive person or group you have in mind, does not indicate it is better than the modern. On the contrary, tradition of any variety is often ridiculed, so why this sudden change once applied to describe marriage?
@MattGutting You already did respond then:
"Traditional" means "common in recent years past". I think "one man, one woman" qualifies.
1:08 AM
Overall, I agree with @Flimzy on this issue (no surprise there, I imagine). I just wanted to point out that bi people do actually exist, and may be in same-sex relationships. That's yet another reason not to use [homosexual-marriage] as a tag. Of course, genderqueer people also exist, and with them the entire concept of same-sex/opposite-sex can get a bit fuzzy. — TRiG Oct 15 '14 at 16:53
Bi people exist. I would strongly oppose any tags called , . or . Trying to divine the orientation of a couple from the composition of their marriage is not always going to work.
As a remark to you, @fredsbend, the answer you accepted has +4 (+6-2), while Flimzy's answer stands at +11 (+12-1). Any reason you chose to run with an answer other than the generally accepted one?
How is policy defined on meta sites anyway?
@TRiG I know a few trans people who would disagree with you on the existence of genderqueer people ;-)
1:26 AM
@TRiG Flimzy's response is sound advice, not an answer.
@fredsbend TRiG was quoting a comment he made on the original question, referring to an earlier comment on the question by Flimzy.
1:57 AM
@MattGutting Definitions can get a bit fuzzy, but I've often said that all categories everywhere have fuzzy edges. I'm pretty sure genderqueer people exist. Or, at least, people who think of themselves as genderqueer exist, which basically means the same thing.
2:17 AM
"which basically means the same thing" - that's precisely what I, and the others I refer to, dispute :-)
5 hours later…
7:19 AM
@fredsbend Our society as a whole still talks about "gay marriage" as a thing. Linguistically we are in a transitional stage. I think in the future the Christianity.SE community may decide that the plain "marriage" tag should mean something else, but I'm happy with the consensus we've had up until this point.
@LeeWoofenden And it's fair to discriminate. You can't force anyone to talk your way ;)
2 hours later…
9:15 AM
@curiousdannii "Consensus" means general agreement. That's not what we have here. There has been sharp disagreement ever since @fredsbend proposed and implemented the current tag definitions.
What we have instead is one side of the dissension still having the power to impose it's conservative religious definitions, contrary to the secular nature of the site.
(Darn auto-incorrect on this phone! I wrote "its," not "it's.")
It is only a matter of time until the definitions of marriage here follow those now decided upon by the wider society. I am advocating that we track the wider society as if this is a secular site (which it is) rather than acting like a conservative religious site and resisting societal definitions of marriage in reactionary fashion.
9:51 AM
I wouldn't say there's been sharp disagreememt, no one's said anything for months.
But anyways, keep making your case, and propose concrete alternatives.
10:36 AM
@LeeWoofenden I wouldn't call it sharp disagreement either, nor would I call it strong consensus either.
On this site, my opinion and feel of meta is that if you get 8 ups and no downs you can proceed confidently with the policy. At the time I began implementing the tag edits (which was five months after making the proposal), I had 9 ups and two down.
That seemed good enough and no one actually offered an answer that requested something else or just plain disapproval of the policy until now.
Currently, it has 11 ups and four downs. Still the same positive score, through the ratio is a little less now.
Right now, if you are to convince me that the marriage tag should be a broader term encompassing the same-sex-marriage tag and the opposite-sex-marriage tag, then you will first need to convince me that tag definitions and usage guidelines need to be based on something other than optimal usefulness for the site's users.
In my opinion, making the marriage tag a broader, encompassing tag, along with the sub-tags, has less utility than the current definitions and usage guidelines.
It is not intuitive to me.
Also, current usage cannot be ignored. I realize there might be a "poisoning the well" issue now, being that the current usage guidelines have been active for over six months, but we still have dates to compare.
It seems to me that a large chunk of tagged "marriage" questions are also tagged "Catholicism". This is a clear indication that the Catholic view of marriage is most often in mind when askers use the "marriage" tag, which as we all know is staunchly "one man, one woman."
11:32 AM
@fredsbend A "marriage" tag could still be used on Catholic questions, even if its tag definition were not exclusively heterosexual, just as the Catholic Church still uses the word "marriage" despite the fact that its use in the wider society is not exclusively heterosexual. The context will make the meaning sufficiently clear.
If a question were specifically about heterosexual marriage, there would be an appropriate tag available.
The "marriage" tag would be the "parent" tag, under which there would be various more specific tags for questions that want or require them. It would be similar to the "Bible" tag in relation to the tags for each book of the Bible.
7 hours later…
6:55 PM
@LeeWoofenden You still need to explain why tag should be defined by secular society or their vernacular usage, rather than by the users here and the academic usage of those terms.
Like @curiousdannii said, calling same sex relationships marriage is a relatively new phenomenon, so suddenly changing the term's usage based on the whims of our legislature makes little sense.
7:41 PM
@fredsbend First of all, it wasn't the legislature, but the judiciary that made same-sex marriage legal in all states. But beyond that, the judiciary made that change in response to clear societal trends. No "whims" about it.
But to the practical. The tags excerpts could be written quite simply and, I think, fairly neutrally:
- "marriage": For use with questions about marriage of any type.
- "opposite-sex marriage": For use with questions about monogamous heterosexual marriage.
- "same-sex marriage": For use with questions about monogamous homosexual marriage.
- "polygamy": For use with questions about plural marriage.
The full tag wiki would need fuller explanations, of course, but these, too, could be written as neutrally as possible.
8:14 PM
@LeeWoofenden I think those could work fine, but then it leaves the marriage tag kind of useless in my opinion. Kind of like the bible tag.
Which then makes every question about this issue. Not what we're going for I hope.
2 hours later…
10:18 PM
@Lee Same sex marriage is still only legal in a minority of countries.
2 hours later…
11:53 PM
@curiousdannii But it's legal in the countries that provide the majority of the usage of the StackExchange sites. And more to the point, it's legal in the country in which SEI is based.
@fredsbend I don't see a problem with continuing to use the "marriage" tag for most questions about marriage. "Opposite-sex marriage" will likely be the one that gets almost no usage. "Same-sex marriage" will be used for questions that deal specifically with that subject.

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