This is Fritz Knaak. (
by Tony Petrangelo
May 7, 2013, 7:00 AM

Fritz Knaak makes an argument

On MPR’s Morning Edition two Republicans were debating same sex marriage. Brian McClung argued in favor of same sex marriage, while Fritz Knaak stood in front of the freight train, to borrow Senator Dave Senjem’s phrasing.

Things didn’t go so well for Knaak.

At around 1:50 into the segment this happens (all transcriptions by me):

Cathy Wurzer: Brian contends that legalizing same sex marriage is consistent with party principles of getting government out of people’s lives and helps with family stability. Married to those arguments?

Fritz Knaak: Well, I think that they’re inconsistent arguments and that’s the problem. I mean, one of the things that frustrates me about this issue generally as it’s being argued about is, Republicans at least, are saying this is getting government out of personal relationships. Well, who can’t be supportive of that if you’re a Republican? It’s sort of the libertarian argument.

That’s not really the argument here.

What we’re asking people to do here is to accept the granting of a substantial amount benefits, whether they be tax benefits or others, to a broad group of people that really don’t need them. And I think ultimately that’s the question that Republicans who are involved in this issue need to be thinking about.

What Fritz does here is to accept the outcome of McClung’s argument, but to reject the argument’s very premise so that he can set up his own argument. That’s what he does with the ever so subtle line “that’s not really the argument here.” It’s like debate jujitsu, clumsy sure, but it allows him to make his argument, rather then countering an argument he clearly he no interest in countering.

What is the argument that Fritz Knaak wants to make? That same sex couples don’t really need the benefits of marriage. I mean really, what makes them so special that they should be treated like everyone else?

That’s Fritz Knaak, Master Debater.

Oh, but it gets better. It gets so much better.

Fritz Knaak: The way I like to look at it is if you look at the classic “Leave it to Beaver” kind of family, there’s Wally, there’s June, there’s Beaver and there’s Ward. What they have is a tax system set up so that when they reach a certain age, at that time it was expected to be about 62 years old, and suddenly Ward drops dead of a heart attack, they’ve saved some assets, they have insurance, they have certain things.

But what the Federal Government has said is even though if you were alone we would tax some of that, we’re not going to tax that. And the reason we’re not going to tax that is we want to keep the family intact to the extend that we can. So we’ll let mom basically have a substantial martial deduction, it might be the whole size of the estate, so that the family can continue forward economically and move forward in that direction.

Presumably, if gay marriage was a thing all the way back in the “Leave it to Beaver” days, they would have put a “everyone but the gays” stipulation in marital tax deduction laws.

Just as they did with the stipulation that says childless straight couples aren’t eligible for the marital tax deduction.

What’s that?

There isn’t such a stipulation about childless straight couples? But… but… that ruins Fritz’s whole “Leave it to Beaver” analogy.

Putting aside that little bit of ridiculousness about “Leave it to Beaver,” Fritz Knaak is saying that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because of the awesome tax breaks they would get when one of them dies. To further break that down, a Republican is arguing that a thing shouldn’t be done because it would cut someone’s taxes.

And Knaak was the one accusing McClung of having an inconsistent argument!

Fritz Knaak: And the reason why that stereotype plays well here is that the case that’s actually challenging the Defense of Marriage Act now out of New York is a gay couple that just got married, presumably after a long sustaining relationship together, and one of them died. Within a year after they got married.

Now, remember the purpose of the deductions and all that I was telling you about, well one of them has claimed a marital deduction. Under the law of New York, I’m a spouse and I’m entitled to that. And so we’re actually arguing about $300,000. If you get beyond that and start multiplying that by tens of thousands of people you’re talking about some real money.

What Fritz Knaak has done so far is to outline, rather explicitly, how married gay couples are treated as second class citizens by our tax code. What Fritz Knaak has failed to do is offer any kind of a compelling reason for why they should be treated as second class citizens.

The person arguing against Fritz Knaak, Brian McClung also noticed this:

Brian McClung: But what I don’t understand in Fritz’s argument is why wouldn’t we want that same stability for same sex couples? Why is it okay for the government to allow for a tax deduction for heterosexual couples and then deny that deduction for same sex couples?

It just doesn’t make sense.

I probably don’t agree with Brian McClung on much politically, but as it concerns Fritz Knaak’s ability to make sense, we are on the same page.

And to think, when the Minnesota GOP needs someone to argue on their behalf in a court of law, they turn to none other then Fritz Knaak, Maker of Arguments not Sense.

Here’s the full interview:

Note from Steve: Fritz would doubtlessly also argue that we cost the South a bundle of money when we let the slaves go.  Fritz’s fellow traveler, Robert Delahunty made that argument, in essence, this fall when discussing the failed marriage amendmentScotty “Cicero” Newman reminded us that civil rights are expensive in a Senate committee meeting this spring, too.

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