It’s About Sex not Love

I recently posted a response to Runtu’s take on Same-Sex Marriage.  I thought I’d clean it up and post it here. I don’t really seeing anybody making positive secular arguments for the status quo of marriage.

As a caveat, I think same-sex marriage is likely an inevitability in the United States. I think that civil unions for everyone might be an eventual solution to the problem. I also recognize that a good number of my readers are lawyers so I expect to be ripped a new one for one reason or another.  Take it easy on my legal ignorance and take the opportunity to illuminate me on where I might have it wrong.

Marriage is about property rights, but the question is “why do married people need their property rights defined?”. My impression is that government started issuing marriage licenses in an effort stabilize families for the protection of children.  Men and women who cohabitate together with a sexual relationship produce children as a natural by-product.  To ensure that children are given a stable environment in which to thrive marriage licenses were drawn up. This protected the property of one or both parties and meant it would remain with the newly created family if either died.  The financial benefits of marriage were delivered so that cohabitating couples would feel encouraged to join into marriage and give the stabilizing benefits to their children.

IF the benefits of marriage were created to protect children then they need not necessarily be passed on to cohabitating men and women who do not produce children.  But that’s where the equal protection of the law comes in.  All men must be allowed to marry any woman and all women must be allowed to marry any man. This ensures everyone has the same rights because (generally) the natural by product of cohabitation between men and women is children.

IF marriage is just about joining property with someone you choose to join property with (for love, sex, business, coercion, or any other reason), then marriage should not only be extended to same sex couples, but also non-sexual friendships, cousins, siblings, parent-child relationships and perhaps to multiple partners as well.  None of these relationships affect your marriage any more than same-sex marriage do.  If that’s the litmus test we are using than you really should be in favor of no restrictions on marriage whatsoever.  Any restrictions you come up with will ultimately be shown to be arbitrary with no more weight than you think they are “icky”.

The very fact that marriages must be sexually consummated to be valid suggests to me at least that the government thinks it’s about the creation of children and not just property law.

As dissatisfying as the argument comes across gay men have the same rights as straight men; neither are allowed to marry men.  The same goes for straigh and gay women.  I think Victorian romanticism has strongly injected itself into our thoughts on marriage.  Marriage has been around much much longer than our belief that it should be about love.  It’s about sex (that may produce children), not love.

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54 thoughts on “It’s About Sex not Love

  1. Marriage property rights are important as between the married persons, not in relation to children. Illegitimacy is completely irrelevant to most every intestacy scheme (i.e., law that determines who gets what in the absence of a will or other mechanism).

  2. Marriage is important to people (gay and straight) because it addresses important human needs. Many have very little to do with having children and only marginally related to sex.

    Marriage creates a partnership, a quasi-fiduciary relationship, a mutual obligation to support each spouse, an assumed pooling of resources, costs and benefits of each parties’ life. It is a public declaration of fidelity (sexual and otherwise) between the parties. It is is a public expression of the human drive and need to find a “mate”. It creates a legal privilege of confidentiality, allowing completely open communication. It provides a certain amount of stability in people’s lives that allows some to be more productive and settled.

    As to origin, I think marriage was not necessarily created to protect children, but to protect sex (some feminists have consider it a form of institutionalized prostitution) it has prevented men (who had all the power and rights) from using a woman sexually and then simply walking away. Now, it still serves as a protection of intimacy. Gays benefit from this sort of protection because it allows for more stable, secure and safe sexual environment, meeting another important human need.

    If society was serious about protecting children, they would create a marriage every time a child is born. The fact that we don’t require that shows that marriage is a lot more complex than just child-producing sex.

    I think we should allow gay people to marry because it allows them the important human benefits that being married provides. I can’t see any justice in keeping those benefits away from them. Its like keeping a drug addict from marrying just because we disapprove of his behavior and it might rub off on his kids, it just doesn’t seem to make sense for government to be that involved with how we meet these basic human needs.

    Whether or not prohibiting gay-marriage violates equal protection, I think arguments can be bent one way or the other depending on your politics.

  3. Right, well, there’s a pretty huge difference in saying on the one hand whether gay marriage normatively should be allowed and saying on the other hand whether there is a legal or constitutional basis in the United States for allowing or denying it.

    The two analyses are not completely separate, but they are definitely distinct.

  4. I agree that constitutional protection and justice are distinct.

    However, ultimately, in our country, the constitution gets expanded to protect minority interests once people recognize that that may be the only way to permanently protect them.

    Its clear that the 14th Amendment has never in its history been interpreted to include the right of gay marriage. But it was constitutional to prevent inter-racial marriage until 1967 (Loving v. Virginia) and there are clearly some judges that are willing to apply the same logic to same sex marriage.

  5. Well yeah, I’m not imagining in any way that what the Constitution means today has anything to do with what the Constitution’s gonna mean next week.

    I’m actually taking Con Law 2 right now, and it makes me froth at the mouth.

  6. Jared, I agree with you that the need for intimacy is deep felt in every person.

    It is is a public expression of the human drive and need to find a “mate”.

    I’ll offer charity if you want to retract this statement because I understand the rest of what you are saying. But this sides with what I was saying. The word “mate” reveals how it’s bias toward sexual reproduction. All people long to mate, homosexuals simply cannot mate with one another. Same-sex marriage stands in opposition of mating.

    Gays benefit from this sort of protection because it allows for more stable, secure and safe sexual environment, meeting another important human need.

    I haven’t seen the stats myself, but it’s my understanding that in Belgium, since same-sex marriage was introduced, bastardization rates have climbed (I don’t know by how much). Marriage doesn’t mean anything to heterosexuals anymore. So offering stability to homosexual relationships has destabilized the rest of society (particularly children).

    If it is as you say, are any restrictions on marriage appropriate? Can two gay brothers decide that they are the best matches for each other? Should the government recognize the intimacy they share?

  7. Tim,

    The gay brother question is an interesting one, and one that I had never considered. Historically, incest between siblings (or first cousins) has been taboo and often illegal, due to the fact that babies created from these unions were at tremendously greater risk of being born with physical and (more often) mental disabilities. But in the case of two gay brothers (or sisters for that matter) this would not be an issue. So on what basis would such a couple be forbidden to marry one another? This is merely hypothetical, I don’t actually expect a response from anyone, but the legalization of gay marriage does have some interesting legal implications, not the least of which would be the lack of justification for keeping pleural marriage illegal as well.

  8. From this article

    Marriage is a virtually universal human social institution with a certain recognizable shape: It is a public union, not just a private union; it’s a sexual union and not some other kind of union; it’s a union in which the rights and responsibilities of men and women toward each other — and toward the children of their union — are publicly defined and supported, not merely left up to individuals to figure out privately.

    Why do so many diverse societies arrive at this core marriage idea? There is something special about unions of husband and wife.

    The answer is not hard to see. When a baby is born, a mother is bound to be somewhere close by. But if we want fathers to be there for children, and the mothers of their children, biology alone will not take us very far. We need a cultural mechanism to connect fathers to the mother-child bond. We also need an institution that communicates to the next generation — in the throes of its own erotic and romantic dramas — how seriously society takes the need to discipline those dramas so that children do not get hurt.

  9. I haven’t seen the stats myself, but it’s my understanding that in Belgium, since same-sex marriage was introduced, bastardization rates have climbed (I don’t know by how much). Marriage doesn’t mean anything to heterosexuals anymore. So offering stability to homosexual relationships has destabilized the rest of society (particularly children).

    Whoa there cowboy… you’re making logical jumps you just can’t make. If indeed the statistics you allude to exist, they absolutely do not show that “offering stability to homosexual relationships has destabilized the rest of society.” That’s a classic post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Same-sex marriage was recognized in Belgium in January 2003. The monthly death toll of US combat troops overseas is also probably much, much higher now that it was in Jan ’03. Does this mean that offering stability to homosexual relationships has led to the deaths of American soldiers?

  10. Does this mean that offering stability to homosexual relationships has led to the deaths of American soldiers?

    Westboro Baptist Church would say yes. 🙂

    I get what you are saying about jumping to conclusions, but comparing Belgian Same-Sex marriages to the death toll of US troops is not quite the same thing as comparing them to the decrease in Belgian marriages overall.

  11. Well, in one sense, comparing marriages to marriages seems intuitively a better fit than marriages to combat deaths. I grant you that–at least they seem like they could be rationally connected.

    But “seem like they could be rationally connected” doesn’t mean “are connected” or even “are more likely than not to be connected.” Decrease in marriages overall could be the result of any number of possible factors and causes.

  12. Tim,

    Here are the problems I see with your reasoning in today’s legal context:

    1. Marriage laws today don’t protect children and the reproductive.

    You argue that marriage is an institution that essentially provides a forum for reproductive sex, and since Gays can’t have reproductive sex, they shouldn’t have the right to be married.

    However, this view is not supported by what marriage means today. In the age of no-fault divorce, marriage means very little when it comes to keeping families together. Even in Utah, marriage is something that is incredibly easy to dissolve. Anybody who is married can get a divorce at any time for any reason. They will have essentially the same rights to their children as they would if they were not married.

    Common-law marriage (which was the only real kind of marriage for much of US history) has generally been made quite weak by the states and courts and relatively easy to defeat.

    The bottom line is that in America today, marriage is not about children, if it was, it would be harder to get out of if you had children (something that is being proposed in Utah) and it would be more beneficial for children. Marriage is not even about sex, extramarital sex is pretty much the standard outside of very religious communities and we would be enforcing adultery laws, and we would allow polygamy to allow men and women to have more than one partner while maintaining family relationships for all of their children.

    The rights and obligations of marriage anymore are are generally divorced (pardon the pun) from the reproductive process. All of the trends in family law are moving toward compartmentalizing child issues from other marriage issues.

    2. If marriage is a good thing (with or without children) Allowing gays to be married is better for society (including the children) than preventing them from being married.

    Marriage is a way to organize people into families and provides legal rights for familial relations, whether or not they have children. Most of the rights and obligations involved in marriage do not have to do with children, but with the spouses mutually supporting each-other.

    For all of the reasons you assume marriage is good for families with children, its better for society if gays are married. It promises to produce more stable families, encourage more families and bring stability to many lives who would not be as stable and enjoyable without marriage. If there are step-children involved (an increasing demographic due to high divorce rates) its better that there is a stable, marriage relationship between gay couples with children. If you allow gays to adopt (which I support) then its better for the children to have a step-family based on marriage.

    I don’t think supporters of marriage can argue that gays would not benefit from marriage, even if no children are expected. The only question is what is the downside?

    You argue that separating marriage from reproduction has increased the illegitimacy rates. This may be true, but this is trend that hardly can be blamed on gay marriage.

    As this report from the Hoover Institute suggests: http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/3020821.html
    illegitimacy rates have been rising steadily for 50 years. There are so many factors that influence whether child-bearing couples marry it shows a strong bias to pick out gay marriage as a significant factor.

    In some “welfare states” it may be better not to be married in order to maximize benefits, and marriage may not provide any real benefits to families who have children.

    The only people who seem really interested in marriage anymore are gays and religious people.

    3. Preventing gay marriage does nothing to strengthen traditional marriage.

    The ultimate non-sequitor is to imply that allowing more people to form close family relationships (such as gays), would somehow make strong family relationships less desirable for those who have the most to gain from them (i.e. parents of children).

    There is absolutely no real research to suggest that gay people wanting to be less sexually promiscuous outside of marriage somehow makes people more promiscuous inside of marriage.

    I just don’t see how the practical argument against gay marriage makes sense. So it really comes down to morality and “comfort”. I would agree that if we allow gay marriage it would lead to some very a-typical family relationships. But if two brothers want to be married, how can it hurt me if the government allows that to happen?

    I think Mormons with family histories in the church, should be the most wary of trying to use Government to enforce sexual morality.

  13. Marriage laws are primarily about protecting weaker and vulnerable parties:

    1. The spouse who makes himself or herself incredibly vulnerable to being legally harmed by the other – due to the intimacy and trust of the arrangement

    and

    2. Children – who everyone here should readily acknowledge are very vulnerable.

    That’s pretty-much an apt summary of my entire Family Law class I took in law school. Marriage is a voluntary arrangement of mutual vulnerability. Family is a web of interconnected vulnerabilities. Law sees a legitimate interest in protecting these vulnerabilities with the aim of encouraging mutually beneficial interdependence.

  14. Seth,

    I agree in principle marriage is supposed to protect children. But, having practiced family law in Utah, I can say that in practice there is no real protection inside of marriage for children in that state that is not granted to born outside of marriage.

    In my experience, people decide to in my experience people generally don’t “stay together for the children” because of anything in the law.

    I do agree with your first point. Marriage is partially protecting parties from financial vulnerability. Alimony obligations and property distribution are the only real differences between the married couple with children and the unmarried couple with children.

  15. Alimony obligations and property distribution are the only real differences between the married couple with children and the unmarried couple with children.

    And certainly there have been attempts, in “palimony” lawsuits, to make marriage unnecessary for even that.

  16. Jared, there were two points. Two.

    Secondly, I only said that the AIM of family law was protection of such vulnerable parties. I never said they were particularly effective.

    Anyway, I’m not sure what point you are trying to make.

  17. Jared said:
    However, this view is not supported by what marriage means today. In the age of no-fault divorce, marriage means very little when it comes to keeping families together. Even in Utah, marriage is something that is incredibly easy to dissolve. Anybody who is married can get a divorce at any time for any reason.

    To say that marriage is already weak is not a reason to loosen the restrictions on marriage. If anything the restrictions should be increased. It should be harder to get married because of the problems of no fault divorce.

    But if two brothers want to be married, how can it hurt me if the government allows that to happen?

    So I just want to be clear, that you are in favor of allowing gay brothers to get married? Is this right?

    At the point gay brothers are allowed to marry, marriage’s significant meaning is eroded. The erosion of this meaning reduces the desirability of marriage and the stability it offers.

    Speaking of non sequitors. How does the “how-does-it-affect-my-marriage get so much cred?” It doesn’t need to matter to your own marriage for government to be involved in putting restrictions on marriage. Cousins getting married doesn’t affect your marriage. Young people getting married doesn’t affect your marriage. Siblings getting married does not affect your marriage. Heck slave ownership does not affect your marriage. The government is involved in all kinds of things that may or may not affect you directly.

  18. Tim and Seth (and anyone else who cares)

    Sorry if my comments have been less than coherent, I usually make them at about 2 AM (which I will try to avoid in the future for everyone’s sake) So my points have not been particularly clear and coherent.

    Here is my restated position: (some of) what I have said above should support this:

    MARRIAGE IS GOOD FOR EVERYONE: I believe that marriage is a good thing and very important to the happiness of many gay and straight couples. I believe that people should be as free as possible to form family relationships. Governmental checks should be used to hurt third parties, innocent children, etc. (therefore I am in favor of strong parental obligations, restrictions on marriage between close relatives, and other restrictions that would harm children.)

    I don’t see any reason to deny the benefits of marriage to someone simply because they are gay. Its not really a just position, and I think that its probably bad for society, since you have a group of very talented, productive citizens left less fulfilled and stable than they could be.

    I don’t see how gay marriage hurts third parties because I don’t buy the argument that gay marriage increases illegitimacy or makes traditional marriage less desirable. I don’t think its supported by anything substantial.

    MARRIAGE IS NOT PRIMARILY ABOUT SEXUAL REPRODUCTION

    Tim argues that traditionally marriage laws were to protect children, therefore marriage should only be there to provide for a framework to have reproductive sex.
    My point is that even though the that may have been the origin of marriage, this doesnt’ make sense today. Judging from the law and general practice, marriage does not really have that role in America today. Previously the strong marriage laws were also set against strong adultery laws, more difficult divorce, laws against fornication, and a harsher life for illegitimate children. Now that all of those other legal elements have been cast aside marriage simply doesn’t fill that role anymore, nor should it.

    The role of protecting children in a society where people have sex outside of marriage has to be left to something other than the laws of marriage.

    DIVERSE FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS ARE GOOD FOR SOCIETY

    To me, allowing more diversity among family relationships does nothing to harm the character of all family relationships. It is analogous to religious freedom. just as diversity of religion does not threaten my religion. I believe that traditional family life is better for all and my church promotes it. However, I recognize that it doesn’t make sense to impose my religious beliefs on others who want to live their life differently. likewise, I assume that when people are living more fulfilled and happy lives that they will be better members of society in general. I may believe that everybody would be happier if we were all Mormons, but I think it would be foolish to try to promote Mormonism through the government in ANY way.

    From this point of view, I don’t see how gay marriage hurts my values, my family or family in general, just as I don’t see how allowing Muslims in America threatens my religion in any way.

    Even in the extreme case, the two gay brothers. I don’t really have a problem with this in the same way that I don’t have a problem with tolerating Satan worshipers. I generally think that worshiping Satan is a despicable practice and something that isn’t for me (just as marrying my brother would be) I can’t see the benefit to me or society in governmental restrictions on worshiping Satan. Having people freely worshiping Satan is the price of freedom from Government messing with my freedom to worship the “Mormon” Jesus rather than the Trinitarian one. Allowing us crazy Mormons to follow our false prophets doesn’t erode the significance of “true”Chrisitianity, since true christianity will (should) retain its inherently good character regardless of what other people are doing. If doing good is not desirable, the government is hard-pressed to stop it (see prohibition and smoking cigarettes).

    GOVERNMENT SHOULD STAY OUT OF PROMOTING OR RESTRICTING FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS WHERE POSSIBLE.

    Many of the most important things in American life are those where the government doesn’t interfere. My privacy, my home, my religion. I don’t want the government involved in my family if I can help it. Sometimes it is necessary but generally it is unhelpful and often counterproductive. Laws that are unhelpful generally get cast aside and ignored. (Such as statutes against sodomy, adultery, fornication, polygamy, prohibition of alcohol (and eventually marijuana)

    I also don’t think that traditional marriage (like strong religion) is necessarily the hallmark of a just society). Countries where marriage is the most “traditional”, are not generally models of freedom, and righteousness. I think if you can provide a legal framework where children can be educated well, have their physical needs met, and have fair opportunities, and good cultural influences, traditional marriage is less important and the government is generally better at providing those rights and services than it is at supporting “traditional” marriage.

    Trying to force a particular version of marriage is a bit like forcing people to use a particular form of contract, that the government likes best rather than allowing a wide freedom of contract. I think generally we should be open to innovative contract structures since they often improve our economy. (insurance is a good example of such an innovation, credit-default swaps may be a bad example) I am not saying that government should not have some hand in this business but it should remain as tentative as possible in interfering.

    So, my argument IS NOT that gay marriage wouldn’t hurt my marriage therefore it is ok, the argument is that diversity and freedom and less governmental interference is generally best unless the government is the only vehicle for achieving the societal goal. (mutual protection, infrastructure, economic regulation, dispute resolution, enforcement of contracts, etc.)

    I know this comment is ridiculously long and you have my apologies and my understanding if you never got this far.

    Tim:

    Are say that restrictions on marriage should be increased? That is an interesting position.

    Isn’t that going to make marriage less common, and therefore increase bastardization rates?

    Isn’t that essentially counterproductive to the cause of promoting marriage and married family units since people that won’t qualify will still want to have kids?

  19. Thanks for taking the time to compose this Jared. I don’t know about others, but I personally appreciate the time you’ve taken to articulate your viewpoint.

    I just listened to a podcast from Stand To Reason on this very issue. You can listen to it here
    [audio src="http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?http://www.strcast2.org/podcast/weekly/111608.mp3" /]

    I think it’s well worth your time to listen to it. I don’t agree with his take on sore winners and losers, (I think it takes away from and weakens he best arguments) but when he actually gets on to counter-pointing Keith Olberman I think he brings up a number of excellent points. (and I could already hear Kullervo screaming “bull sh*t”).

    Let me attempt to articulate at least one of his points and some new ones of my own. Marriage exist whether or not the state recognizes it. Marriage is fundamental to society and gay relationships do not fulfill the same function as marriages. If “gay marriages” ceased to exist for some reason, society as a whole and the future of society would not be affected. If marriages ceased to exist, society as we know it would quite quickly disapate. The state needs marriages much more than marriages need the state.

    Whatever name we give to men and women who cohabitate and produce children, we need those relationships.

    This cultural debate is about whether or not gay relationships should be endorsed, promoted and equated to marriages by the government. The debate is about nothing else but that. In California the rights for domestic partnerships are exactly the same as marriages. So to talk about equal rights is to miss the point of the actual debate.

    Gay relationships simply are not the same as marriages. They do not and are not capable of producing families. They are not the same.

    As for the negative effects that accepted and promoted homosexual relationship will have on our society. . .We can only guess and speculate. I can’t prove my thoughts any more than someone who says I’m full of it. But I think that it will have the averse affect of isolating men and women from one another in healthy relationships. People who have dysfunctional relationships with the opposite gender will not feel it important to work out those relationships and enter into them. Another socially acceptable option will be available to them with people of their own gender.

    I’m taking people who, for whatever reason, feel same-sex attraction out of the equation for the moment. I’m simply talking about people with dysfunctional relationships. Lindsay Lohan and Madonna would be two popular examples of women who do not claim to be homosexuals but enter into homosexual relationships because they feel they are viable and equatable relationships with men.

    Humanity can not be fully experienced through the eyes of either gender. We need deep and healthy relationships with one another to more fully humanize us. If gender groups begin to become more isolated due to dysfunction, and that dysfunction is perpetuated and passed on, our society will suffer as a whole for it. Homosexuality is not just a product of being “turned on” by the same sex. That is certainly true of some people but not of everyone involved.

    For the same reasons, we also need to have appropriate and healthy relationships with those in our same gender.

    Not sure how it fits into my thoughts exactly but this interview with a formerly gay woman is interesting to listen to.
    [audio src="http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?http://www.strcast.org/podcast/weekly/110208.mp3" /]

    Jared said:
    Are say that restrictions on marriage should be increased? That is an interesting position.

    Isn’t that going to make marriage less common, and therefore increase bastardization rates?

    Isn’t that essentially counterproductive to the cause of promoting marriage and married family units since people that won’t qualify will still want to have kids?

    Not any more than I think driver’s licenses encourage reckless driving or gun licenses increase crime. I think they would have the opposite affect.

    I think waiting periods and proof of some sort of pre-marital counseling would greatly improve the state of marriage in America.

  20. Tim,

    Thanks for your response,

    I think we both agree that marriage is and important part of society as we know it, and should be supported and fostered where possible.

    I suppose our disagreement comes down to how gay marriage would effect marriage in general, and what role the government should play.

    The problem I see with stricter marriage license requirements is that the basic law of economics is, if you make something cost more, you get less of it.

    The problem is, even if there were counseling requirements in the law, there are still no restrictions on shacking up and having kids. In addition, there are not a whole lot of benfits to being married, financial or otherwise, so you basically have a higher cost for something of marginal value. Therefore, people who do not have a strong cultural-religious drive to marry, simply wont take the step of getting married (and those are the people who we are most concerned about).

  21. Gay relationships simply are not the same as marriages. They do not and are not capable of producing families. They are not the same.

    Hey wait, how come two loving, committed gay partners don’t “produce a family” of two, the same way two heterosexual people who either can’t have kids or choose not to have kids?

  22. Hey wait, how come two loving, committed gay partners don’t “produce a family” of two, the same way two heterosexual people who either can’t have kids or choose not to have kids?

    All heterosexual couples have the innate potential to create children by the nature of their relationship. Because of the equal protection marriage rights are given to all heterosexual couples.

  23. Gays can produce families in all kinds of ways. Adoption, surrogacy, invitro fertilization and, of course, marrying somebody with children. There are lots of gay families now, with children.

    Don’t those children deserve to have a married couple at the core of their family?

  24. All heterosexual couples have the innate potential to create children by the nature of their relationship. Because of the equal protection marriage rights are given to all heterosexual couples.

    Whoa whoa whoa. So heterosexual couples can create a family because the law allows them to? And that’s why gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to get married?

  25. No, my apologies if I misworded my thoughts. Heterosexual couples have the innate ability to create families. Because of that innate ability, the government gives them a marriage license (if they’d like one).

  26. Seth,

    I am not particularly hung up on the label “marriage”, however, except in a handful of states, Gay couples don’t have anything close the same rights, even under domestic partnership schemes.

    In Utah, homophobes in the state legislature even objected to the lable “domestic-partnership” and made Salt Lake remove that lable when it finally allowed its domestic partnership registry.

    Ultimately, if it does come down to a label, then this isn’t this equivalent to a religious issue. People who disapprove of homosexual partnerships don’t want to have to call them marriages in the same way that Evangelicals don’t want have to call Mormons “Christians”.

    Along those lines, I have some sympathy with Alan Dershowitz proposal that all marriages should be labeled “domestic partnerships” and leave the sacrament of marriage to religion. See: http://www.rossde.com/editorials/Dershowitz_marriage.html

    However, in practice, “separate but equal” is going to be awfully hard to achieve, considering the multitude of rights and privileges tied to those get to be “married”.

  27. Here is a list of compiled rights and benefits that married people get that almost all domestic partnerships don’t get automatically:
    http://gaylife.about.com/od/samesexmarriage/a/benefits.htm

    The LDS Church has issued statements stating that it is not opposed to civil unions or domestic partnerships. . . which I think is striking considering anything “substantially similar to marriage” for gay couples in Utah is unconstitutional.

    http://ontopmag.com/article.aspx?id=2707&MediaType=1&Category=26

    Obviously Mormons don’t really have a united position on this. Where do most evangelicals stand on this issue?

  28. Jared, that has been exactly my argument. All marriages should be re-labeled “domestic partnerships” or “civil unions” and government should get out of the marriage license business altogether.

    But in the meantime, I am ambivalent about the government giving the approval to gay marriage that putting the marriage label on it implies.

  29. Tim, what about people who, for whatever reason, do NOT have the capability to have children. You’re saying that male/female relationships have the innate ability, but some people do not. If you know you’re infertile, should you not be allowed to get married? Maybe if you’ve gone through cancer treatment and were thus rendered infertile?

    What about couples who don’t want kids? Should they not be allowed to get married?

    The fact that people who cannot conceive or do not choose to have kids still want to get married suggests that marriage is about more than just procreation.

    You suggest that letting gay couples get married will make there be more gay people? I’m not sure I follow that. And, you know what? If someone has traumatizing experiences (or whatever) that make them uncomfortable with the opposite (or same) gender, and they choose to deal with that pain by isolating themselves from that gender, who cares? Why is that a problem? It certainly won’t happen to a majority of people.

    I have never heard a convincing argument about why gay people should not have the same marriage rights as straight people. And I’d really like to, because I generally believe that there are two sides to most issues, but I just can’t see any reason except for religious here.

  30. Well, it’s hardly a controversial point that making the consequences of being gay in our society lower will probably result in more people willing to be openly gay.

    Whether that’s a good or bad thing is a point of debate, but…

  31. A question for those against Gay marriage- What if it could be shown that allowing Gays to be married (and to call it marriage) helped straight marriage and made society safer(less STDs), happier and more productive, would you still be opposed?

    If so, then the entire debate really hinges on a moral/religious question rather than any science or practical reasoning.

    Tim’s argument based on the purpose of marriage is not really persuasive in this case since there is no reason to have the original purpose of marriage be controlling on current law when alternatives are better for society.

  32. Well, I think Tim’s argument based on the purpose of marriage really rests on his ideas about God’s intentions for marriage. Any legal, psychological, or sociological arguments Tim makes are going to be heavily informed by his religious viewpoint.

    This doesn’t make Tim wrong, by any stretch of the imagination. But recognizing his bias (and I mean that not in a negative way but simply in the sense of having a viewpoint/perspective that informs his other ideas), we can boil the question down to its real essentials.

    If God indeed made us with a purpose in mind, then we will never be happy as long as we are running away from that purpose, and if God made civilization and society with a purpose in mind (or in any case made us with a purpose in mind for civilization and society), then civilization and society will never be happy and prosperous as long as it is running away from God’s purposes.

    Is there a God? Did he create us with a purpose in mind? If so, what is that purpose, and what are the consequences for abandoning it on a personal, familial, communal, societal, and/or global level?

  33. Well of course MY ideas for the purpose of marriage rest on God’s purpose for marriage. But just because my motivations might be religiously based doesn’t mean I shouldn’t vote or be influenced by them in the secular sphere. In fact I most certainly should be voting based on what my faith thinks is best for mankind. If I don’t, then I’m religiously schizophrenic.

    And YES everyone of us should be voting based on arguments for morality. There isn’t anyone NOT making some sort of moral argument. Every time some one uses the words “equal rights” they are making a moral argument.

    I also recognize that I can’t make my religious arguments to people who don’t share my religion. But I think outside of “God’s plan for marriage” that the arguments can be made from natural law. Whoever or whatever made us, made men for women and women for men. Tab A goes into Slot B. It is plainly obvious that this is nature’s design. Our very biology indicates that things will go better for us if we follow the instructions (as an aside it’s interesting to watch secular naturalist try to deny the evolutionary implications of their own biology). Our biology creates marriages and families without the state’s interference. It is only beneficial for the state to encourage it.

    I’m not actually all that opposed to the idea of dissolving state run marriage and giving out civil unions. I think if that were done, all the trappings of marriage would need to be stripped from civil unions. They should be available to anyone regardless of gender or family relation. Sexual relationship should not be a requirement of any sort. And the dissolution of these unions should be allowed for any reason, no questions asked. (consent laws would still need to be in place)

    Many of the legal benefits of marriage can be obtained through one legal path or another already (i.e. power-of-attorney for end of life decisions). So if the state wants to lump them all together in an easy to use bundle of legal rights I don’t know that I would balk at that notion.

  34. Jared said:
    Ultimately, if it does come down to a label, then this isn’t this equivalent to a religious issue. People who disapprove of homosexual partnerships don’t want to have to call them marriages in the same way that Evangelicals don’t want have to call Mormons “Christians”.

    Of course this comes down to a label. Why would gay Californians be so upset about the passage of Prop 8 if it weren’t about a label? They didn’t lose a single legal right. They want the state to sanction and approve their relationships with the term “marriage”. They rightly understand that words mean things.

  35. If tolerance for religion only extends so far as adherents of that religion do not vote according to their beliefs, then religious tolerance is just so much empty rhetoric.

    If you are going to tolerate religion, you have to tolerate people who treat it like it actually matters.

    Many Mormons have a theological framework for what marriage means that they fervently believe extends into real practical societal benefits. They see government sanction of homosexual unions as threatening that paradigm.

    There is really nothing undemocratic about them taking that to the voting booth.

  36. Well of course MY ideas for the purpose of marriage rest on God’s purpose for marriage. But just because my motivations might be religiously based doesn’t mean I shouldn’t vote or be influenced by them in the secular sphere. In fact I most certainly should be voting based on what my faith thinks is best for mankind. If I don’t, then I’m religiously schizophrenic.

    And YES everyone of us should be voting based on arguments for morality. There isn’t anyone NOT making some sort of moral argument. Every time some one uses the words “equal rights” they are making a moral argument.

    I also recognize that I can’t make my religious arguments to people who don’t share my religion. But I think outside of “God’s plan for marriage” that the arguments can be made from natural law. Whoever or whatever made us, made men for women and women for men. Tab A goes into Slot B. It is plainly obvious that this is nature’s design. Our very biology indicates that things will go better for us if we follow the instructions (as an aside it’s interesting to watch secular naturalist try to deny the evolutionary implications of their own biology). Our biology creates marriages and families without the state’s interference. It is only beneficial for the state to encourage it.

    Whoa whoa whoa there Tim. Don’t put words in my mouth. I’m only saying what your argument boils down to; I’m not in any sense arguing that your argument is therefore inappropriate or invalid. Of course people make moral judgments with regards to law all the time.

    Many of our political controversies in the US come as a result of attempting to balance competing moral concerns. Others are a result of different ideas about how to best pursue the same moral objective. While I don’t think every single law is itself a moral judgment (too many laws are merely a matter of administrative convenience), but moral concepts are most certainly at the core of our conception of law and underlie law generally. To claim otherwise is absurd.

    So the question is whether your particular moral arguments from God’s plan and natural law are more convincing or more compelling than an opposing argument based on something else (or based on a different understanding of God’s plan or an entirely different natural law argument).

  37. Tim,

    I understand that you are motivated by a religious position and you are also supplementing that with non religious reasoning.

    And I think we are settled that this issue is not fundamentally about what is better for society in a utilitarian sense. Its about whether the state should sanction a lifestyle that the majority find deeply immoral.

    However, the lifestyle that the majority find to be deeply immoral in fact is considered a very critical human right to a relatively large minority group.

    I am coming at the issue from the perspective of a religious minority who was greatly persecuted for the exact same issue. i.e. we Mormons were doing something the majority found immoral and it was a big part of fully practicing our religion.

    Knowing that I could be the next minority that the majority could turn on, I want to live in a society that has wide acceptance of minority positions and lifestyles that do not harm society as a whole or would do more harm than good if actively enforced. (such as adultery laws, bans on alcohol and cigarettes, and to some extent, some restrictions on abortion) Because I am interested in freedom and justice from a minority standpoint, I tend to focus exclusively on whether the policy will hurt society and its members, rather than how immoral or icky the behavior is.

    Seth,

    I am not questioning the right of Mormons voting for prop 8 and on banning gay marriage based on religious convictions, I am just questioning their judgment and the justice of their position vis-a-vis maintaining a tolerant open, pluralistic society

  38. Whoa whoa whoa there Tim. Don’t put words in my mouth. I’m only saying what your argument boils down to;

    for what it’s worth I knew what you were saying. I was merely expanding the argument.

  39. “If you know you’re infertile, should you not be allowed to get married? Maybe if you’ve gone through cancer treatment and were thus rendered infertile?”

    Public policy should be based around the rule, not the exception.

  40. If my previous comment wasn’t clear, the scenarios you mention are exceptions, not the rule.

    Fact remains that homosexuals are biologically incapable of reproduction whereas heterosexuals, by definition, are. I mean, c’mon — isn’t it obvious that we have genitals so we can reproduce? They’re not just there to make us feel good.

    As for this business of homosexuals reproducing by artificial means, well, am I alone in thinking this is a very twisted way of looking at the world? We should use our science to twist nature’s laws so that homosexuals can pretend that they’re exactly the same as heteros? That opens a serious Pandora’s box of ethical questions.

    To the straight people who think that this is alright: how happy would you have been as a child if you had been raised by a homosexual couple? Not very, I would bet. And yet you feel entitled to forcing this sort of thing on future generations, all in the name of “gay rights” and not hurting the feelings of homosexuals. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

  41. “I understand that you are motivated by a religious position and you are also supplementing that with non religious reasoning.”

    FWIW, I’m an atheist and I agree with Tim almost completely.

    The society the homosexual movement wants to build is a recipe for suicide; Christian and Islamic societies (for example) have withstood the test of time. Even more-or-less secular societies like China or Japan understand the importance of marriage and the family for a stable society; religion need not have anything to do with it.

  42. “However, the lifestyle that the majority find to be deeply immoral in fact is considered a very critical human right to a relatively large minority group.”

    Homosexuals have greatly exaggerated their numbers. It’s certainly not 10 per cent of the population, like that fraud Kinsey claimed and which the homosexual lobby keeps repeating to this day. True homosexuals are probably not more than 3 or 4 per cent of the population, tops. Out of that percentage, those to whom the “right” to marry actually matters is probably but a tiny minority. A lot of homosexuals demand the “right” to marry for political reasons, not because they have any actual intention of getting married should they be given it.

    Just because a minority is very vocal, has a lot of money and power, and is given a lot of exposure by a mass media that generally does not reflect the values and interests of the American majority, does not mean that the minority is large.

  43. “The fact that people who cannot conceive or do not choose to have kids still want to get married suggests that marriage is about more than just procreation.”

    Not on a societal scale, it’s not. Again, you’re attempting to use an exception to disprove the rule.

    “You suggest that letting gay couples get married will make there be more gay people? I’m not sure I follow that.”

    I think it could result in that by giving children the impression that if “gay marriage” is alright, then homosexuality is a socially-acceptable option.

    “And, you know what? If someone has traumatizing experiences (or whatever) that make them uncomfortable with the opposite (or same) gender, and they choose to deal with that pain by isolating themselves from that gender, who cares? Why is that a problem? It certainly won’t happen to a majority of people.”

    It’s true that some women who have had traumatic experiences with their fathers or a boyfriend or husband turn to lesbianism, but what does that have to do with homosexual marriage?

    “I have never heard a convincing argument about why gay people should not have the same marriage rights as straight people.”

    You haven’t been convinced by one because you’re not willing to let yourself be convinced by one. Like all bigots, you”re going to believe what you want to believe and no argument is going to change your mind no matter how infallible it is.

    This is why homosexuals need to be militantly opposed, and not just debated. It’s in fact very rare that homosexual activists seriously debate any of their claims or demands; usually they just scream “homophobe,” hoping to shut the debate down. That seems to be their primary tactic.

  44. Homosexualgirls,

    It seems you are mainly responding to my arguments based on the quotes.

    You claim that homosexuals make up a small minority of only 3-4% and that only 1-2% really care about marriage. if that is the case why do we need to “militantly oppose” such a tiny threat? How does this tiny percentage even matter to us? How could it possibly make a difference in the main flow of society?

    Ultimately your arguments boil down to intolerance of alternative lifestyles because those lifestyles don’t promote human reproduction. I understand that argument but I think ultimately it is entirely disingenuous unless you equally oppose contraception and abortion.

    Because I suspect you don’t make this argument consistently, and you don’t have any religious objection to homosexuality, I am going to guess (confidently) that you are just an intolerant knucklehead. I don’t want to shut debate down, but bring some real arguments that are not transparent pretense of prejudice.

  45. Homosexual marriage is hardly a recipe for societal suicide: gay people weren’t going to get straight-married anyway, so letting them get gay-married will have no effect at all on net reproduction. Argument Fail.

    On the same hand, straight people don’t want to get gay-married, and no amount of legality is going to change someone’s sexual orientation. Argument Fail.

    You haven’t been convinced by one because you’re not willing to let yourself be convinced by one. Like all bigots, you”re going to believe what you want to believe and no argument is going to change your mind no matter how infallible it is.

    Wait, Jared is a bigot? Ha. Pot, kettle. I dub thee troll.

  46. Well, if you are bored, I suggest you see *Bruno* very difficult to stomach, downright offensive in many ways, but extremely funny.

  47. homosexualgirls–

    Bigoted? Really? Against whom? Strong word used when it doesn’t even make sense. Oh, but if calling me bigoted was supposed to convince me that gays shouldn’t get married, well, believe it or not, bullying just doesn’t work on me. Sorry.

    Also, had I been raised by a homosexual couple it wouldn’t have bothered me at all. Heck, if I had been raised by a homosexual couple who loved each other and loved me, that’s pretty much more than I got from my hetero parents. The orientation of my parents would not have made a difference in my life. The values that they instilled, the unconditionality of their love for me–those things matter. Not their genders.

    “They’re not just there to make us feel good.”
    Yuh-huh. Anything else is just gravy. 🙂

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