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secular arguments AGAINST gay marriage?
Posted: 06 March 2007 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]
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To make my position perfectly clear, I’ve been having a debate on another message board about gay marriage. I believe the state should recognise homosexual unions AND call them marriage. For political reasons, I’d be willing to vouchsafe the name ‘civil unions’ as long as they had all the legal and economic benefits that accrue to ‘married’ couples (even though I believe calling it a civil union is a copout, unless marriage is reserved as the religious union of two couples, with no state recognition, and for all the normal benefits of what used to be marriage, people entered into civil unions (gay and straight)).

In particular, I am debating with someone who is gay and a self-described social conservative (no, I can’t figure it out, either) and for him the question of marriage seems to hinge on encouraging reproduction. Since it is plain that marriage is neither sufficient nor necessary for reproduction, I think the argument is invalid for restricting marriage to male/female unions.

I’ve read many religious arguments against gay marriage (each of them being as preposterous as religion itself), and sometimes they attempt to veil their arguments in secular clothing (though of course not all, not even most, bother doing this). But apart from invalid appeals to consequences (which cannot determine the truth or right-value of gay marriages) I’ve come up empty handed for arguments against gay marriage. Are there any that I simply haven’t thought of?

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Posted: 06 March 2007 09:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hmm I am in that same discussion over there I think.

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Posted: 07 March 2007 12:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Re: secular arguments AGAINST gay marriage?

[quote author=“Metaphor”]Are there any that I simply haven’t thought of?

Not any that don’t require a lobotomy first.

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Posted: 07 March 2007 12:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Re: secular arguments AGAINST gay marriage?

[quote author=“Metaphor”]I’ve come up empty handed for arguments against gay marriage. Are there any that I simply haven’t thought of?

I can’t think of a single good argument against gay marriage.

It’s just religious or social prejudice masquerading as argumentation, IMO. As consciousness gets raised on this issue, it will go away, just like the interracial marriage issue did several decades ago.

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Posted: 07 March 2007 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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If civil unions are afforded the same perquisites as marriage, then can my wife and I have our marriage converted to a civil union?  smile

It would seem that the term, marriage, would quickly be relegated to describing a religious ceremony.  Any couple, same or different gender, joined by a judge or justice of the peace would have a civil union.  As this becomes more prevalent it might serve to show the weakening of religious power.

Occam

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Posted: 07 March 2007 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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[quote author=“Occam”]It would seem that the term, marriage, would quickly be relegated to describing a religious ceremony.  Any couple, same or different gender, joined by a judge or justice of the peace would have a civil union.  As this becomes more prevalent it might serve to show the weakening of religious power.

I have to admit, that makes a certain amount of sense. However, bigotry is still bigotry even when it’s within a religious context. It should be pointed out as such.

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Posted: 07 March 2007 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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One interesting question is what is the compelling public interest that justifies government regulating personal relationships? If the argument is strong that there is one, then what exactly is it? This would then lead to a more rational consideration of how marriage should be defined as a legal entity. Personally, I share the consensus here that there is nothing but irrational religious bigotry to argue against gay marriage, but maybe these questions will give us something real to debate.

Naturally, I have some opinions smile

Most of the arguably rational reasons the state should be involved in codifying personal relationships (marriage, parenthood, etc) have to do with regulating ownership of property and distribution of government benefits. Many laws regarding marriage were actually progressive updates designed to protect women from being left without means of economic support in a time when being self-supporting was much harder for women than it is now. These may be less applicable to reality now, and certainly don’t make as much sense when same-sex marriages are considered, since gender as an economic variable disappears. I suspect some formalized legal recognition of a relationship is justified to ensure equitable shares in joint property or wealth, fair treatment for both partners in parental rights and responsibilities, etc. So I would say the state does have some justifiable interest in regulating these relationships in some limited way.

I would personally throw out the moral justifications for government involvement, in terms of promoting fidelity, controlling promiscuity, etc since they are related to specific religious ideologies which many citizens don’t share, and consequently have no business being public policy. The practical arguments that social order and the welfare of children are affected by government rgulation of marriage are theoretically rational, but I am not convinced by the evidence that they are in actuality good justifications.


So, if government has a role in defining marriage for the reasons I suggest, does this include any role in deciding who can marry whom? I would probably say yes in terms of limiting the applicability of the rules to consenting adults with no significant cognitive impairment, but beyond that I think not. Again, the consequentialist arguments for all the evils society would experience if marriages with property and parental rights were composed of anyone other than 1:1 heterosexual pairs seem very unconvincing to me, largely a smokescreen to legitimize religious prejudice.
I am open to empirical evidence that I’m wrong here, and I think I could be convinced if such evidence were available, but as of now I don’t think there is any rational public interest served by encoding religious prejudices, including homophobia, into the definition of marriage.

Civil unions-well, most of my friends in long-term gay relationships don’t really give a damn what the institution is called as long as they have legal equality with heterosexual couples, but certainly any government recognition of second-class status even in name based on religious prejudice is still illegitimate. And “separate but equal” as a doctrine for fair treatment of ethnic minorities sure didn’t work, so there’s no reason to think it should work any better for other minority groups.

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Posted: 07 March 2007 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Let me just add that my heterosexual marriage fell apart once homosexual marriage was legalized here in Massachusetts. Oh wait - actually it didn’t affect my marriage or life at all. 

The old “married” couple (same-sex) across the street became the old married couple across the street. They lost the quotes and gained the rights that my wife and I have had.

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Posted: 07 March 2007 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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As usual, Brennen, I agree with just about everything you said.  However:

Many laws regarding marriage were actually progressive updates designed to protect women from being left without means of economic support in a time when being self-supporting was much harder for women than it is now. These may be less applicable to reality now, and certainly don’t make as much sense when same-sex marriages are considered, since gender as an economic variable disappears.

I think it’s more than just gender related economic differences, but rather that the partner who takes on the household duties doesn’t have the financial benefits offered by most employers, e.g., pension, health insurance, etc.  As such, the stay-at-home partner, same or other sex, should have the same protections.

And since we are beginning to recognize that 300,000,000 and rapidly growing is a population problem, it seems to me that the state should really encourage same sex unions.

Occam

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Posted: 07 March 2007 03:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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[quote author=“Occam”]I think it’s more than just gender related economic differences, but rather that the partner who takes on the household duties doesn’t have the financial benefits offered by most employers, e.g., pension, health insurance, etc.  As such, the stay-at-home partner, same or other sex, should have the same protections.

And since we are beginning to recognize that 300,000,000 and rapidly growing is a population problem, it seems to me that the state should really encourage same sex unions.

Hit the nail on the head there, Occam, twice.

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Posted: 07 March 2007 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I think it’s more than just gender related economic differences, but rather that the partner who takes on the household duties doesn’t have the financial benefits offered by most employers, e.g., pension, health insurance, etc. As such, the stay-at-home partner, same or other sex, should have the same protections.

Good point, absolutely right!

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Posted: 07 March 2007 06:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Re: secular arguments AGAINST gay marriage?

[quote author=“Metaphor”] for him the question of marriage seems to hinge on encouraging reproduction. Since it is plain that marriage is neither sufficient nor necessary for reproduction, I think the argument is invalid for restricting marriage to male/female unions.

There is a gay rights group in Seattle that has proposed an interesting initiative to argue against the “marriage is for reproduction” absurdity. The link is below and is worth reading (it’s short), but it basically says that if marriage is for reporoduction, then if heterosexual couples don’t have children within three years of their marriage, their marriage should be annulled. It is to argue against the Defense of Marriage Act that was upheld in Washington State.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/302553_initiative06.html

There is no real argument against allowing gays to marry, just as their was no real argument that slaves were not human or mixed marriages were immoral or woman couldn’t handle the tough jobs, or…you get my point. It is ignorance and prejudice, pure and simple.

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Posted: 07 March 2007 09:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I could say it no better than this: http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=76067A strong contender for the JREF February Language Award.

[quote author=“JREF wolfgirl”] Count me as one of those who has been married for 26 years and have no kids to show for it. The purpose of our being married has been to form a “partnership” of sorts. This partnership encompasses all the emotional aspects of our relationship, in which we love and support one another through thick and thin and take care of each other. And yes, we could certainly do this without benefit of marriage. But the cold, hard truth is that there are times in almost every relationship when it would seem the easiest thing to do is simply to walk out, give up, end it. The commitment of a marriage and the prospect of divorce forces you to think a little harder about giving it another try. It’s not just a matter of packing your bags and moving out. It involves lawyers and courtrooms and settlements. And in giving it that extra try, we have found it to be more than worth the effort. We love each other now more than we did all those years ago. But if we hadn’t been married, we might not have gotten here.

The partnership also encompasses the more material and financial aspects of our lives. We choose to have joint bank accounts in which we both deposit our money and from which we pay our bills. We save for joint vacations and joint dreams. We plan for our joint future retirement. The marriage laws help us in protecting this financial aspect of our relationship. It’s not the only or even the most important reason for being married, but it is not insignificant. And yes, we could have secured many (but not all) of these benefits through some sort of legal contract. But there is already this ready-made contract available to us through society that gives us all of those benefits in one fell swoop. One visit to the justice of the peace was all it took.

So what’s wrong with that? And why shouldn’t anybody, gay or straight, have access to the same thing? I believe it is a fundamental right to choose the person we will spend the majority of our lives with. The person we hope to be with until one of us dies. The person we will share our hopes and dreams and joys and sorrows with. The person we want to make decisions for us if we are incapable. The person we want to inherit what we’ve jointly worked to earn throughout our lifetimes. No decision is more personal.

Heterosexual people have the right to marry anyone they choose. The fact they are heterosexual means they will, by definition, choose someone of the opposite sex. They are then free to marry them.

Homosexual people, you claim, can also marry anyone they choose, as long as they are of the opposite sex, so they are not being discriminated against. However, by definition, anyone they choose will be a member of the same sex. So if I’m gay, I can only marry someone I wouldn’t want to marry. My choices for whom to marry have been restricted by society to the half of the population I have no interest in being married to. Yes, they could go ahead and marry someone of the opposite sex, but will that fulfill the purpose of marriage as I stated above, to join two people together forever so they can share all that life has to offer? No, of course it won’t, any more than it would fulfill that purpose for a straight person if we were restricted in our choices and precluded from marrying the person of our choice.

As long as two people are adults and mentally capable of making decisions for themselves, there should be no reason they can’t marry each other. Otherwise, society is, in effect, choosing who it is appropriate for each of us to marry.

I will say that I believe churches should have the right to refuse to marry anyone they want. But government should not. There is really no good reason outside of a religious one not to allow gays to marry, so for government to refuse to allow it, to me, seems to be a blatant hole in the church-state separation wall.

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Posted: 29 April 2007 11:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Re: Marriage Equality

I read a book about a guy who went down South during the Jim Crow days and had a conversation with this older Black guy about ‘giving’ him equal rights. He replied something like this:

Give me rights? You can’t give me rights. You can’t make me free. I am born free. If your laws recognize that or not, it does not change the inherent truth of my freedom.”

That’s pretty deep when you think about it. Rousseau said “Man is born free, and yet everywhere he is in chains”. But are those chains real? The law is an invention, and illusion, something that ceases to exist when people stop believing in it. There is nothing in nature that states that any person is any greater or lesser than another.

So, what is being asked of the federal government is not to give GLBT people the right to marry, or the right to live free from harassment-nature already affords us these rights. No, what is being asked is for Washington to recognize those natural rights,  and to drop the illusion that we are in any way inferior to others.

Therefore, it is not something being granted from a superior to an inferior. We are co-equal, you and I. The matter of my sexuality is about as relevant to my freedom as your hair colour is to yours. I am no more ashamed of the former than you should be of the latter.

Unless you have a mullet smile

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Posted: 29 April 2007 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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A-D I agree completely with you, however, Rousseau also made the point that when we become members of society we must relinquish ALL or freedom.  In return, the society grants us liberties.  This is a fine but important distinction. 

The problem is that most of our state societies have not included gay marriage as a granted liberty. I don’t like it, but it’s the way things are now.

As members of society it’s our job to choose representatives who express our desires.  We must work to get the laws changed to expand the libertie concerning marriage.

Occam

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Posted: 29 April 2007 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Mullets

I take it that means you don’t have a mullet?

Well, you know, the funny thing about the Social Contract is that nobody has asked me to sign it yet. I don’t consider anything binding that has not been arrived at by mutual consent. As a matter of convienience, I avoid breaking laws when they do not contravene my ethics.

Let me give you an idea what I mean:

Once upon a time,t here was a law called th Fugitive Slave Law, which commanded that all persons who did not report a runaway slave or helped them escape to freedom was guilty of a crime, and could be imprisoned.

Now, those who broke that law, were they unethical because the broke the law? And those that followed it, were they ethical because the obeyed it?

That which is legal is not inherently ethical, and that which is illegal is not inherently unethical.

Similarly, I regard the Gavin Newsomes of the world to be modern day operators of the Underground Railroad. Let’s all abide the ethical laws and not blindly follow unethical ones.

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