Same-sex marriage

The current hot topic is same-sex marriage. As I said in my last post, President Barack Obama “came out” in support of marriage rights and equality for same-sex couples. After listening to a radio broadcast this afternoon in which both hosts were in favor of same-sex marriage, I got to thinking about what arguments were commonly used in defense of restricting marriage to only be between one man and one woman, and I decided to take a shot at knocking every one of them down.

So here are the most common arguments I’ve heard against same-sex marriage:

Bible says it’s wrong.
Okay, that’s cool and all that you respect the word of your religious texts, and I won’t ask you to change that stance. However, our country is not founded on the practice of any particular religion, nor do we have a national religion. If either of those were true, it might be reasonable to think our laws should be based on Biblical laws. This is not the case, though. Instead of putting laws in place because a certain religion says we should, we put laws in place which help protect our rights and provide us with safety. Also, the Bible says not to get tattoos, trim your beard, or wear polyester. I’m just sayin’.

Well, it’s still a religous institution.
Not really. Marriage is a legal issue. It determines who owns the claim to another person’s property should that person die. It determines who can be included in an insurance plan, who has visitation rights in a hospital or jail, as well as other government, employment, and medical benefits. If marriage was strictly a religious practice, marriages between atheists wouldn’t be recognized by the government. If marriage were a religious issue, which religion? Yours? Should people of a different religion than yours be allowed to marry?

Reader comment: “If the church doesn’t want to marry gay couples, they don’t have to. Gay couples could still be legally married (just like many straight couples) outside of a church.” – Sarah C.

Sanctity of marriage
First, what does that even mean? Who determines the sanctity of marriage? If we are concerned with the sanctity of marriage being infringed upon, why is divorce legal? The divorce rate in the United States is somewhere around fifty percent. In other words, half of the people pledging themselves to love one another for the rest of their lives are changing their minds and calling it quits. That doesn’t seem like a very sacred institution.

Traditionally, fathers sold their daughters to the highest bidder; whomever could offer the best dowry. Traditionally, white men could not marry black women (and vice-versa). Traditionally, American laws have been changed in light of our ever-evolving social acceptance of minority groups.

There are people who will argue that the reason marriage should be restricted to being between a man and a woman is because only a man and a woman together can reproduce. If this were a legitimate argument, one would assume these same people would be opposed to letting infertile or elderly couples marry, nor would they allow marriage between two people who simply don’t wish to have children.

Reader comment: “Last I checked, people can procreate without being married. Do people think gay couples getting married is somehow going to change the birth rate? It might change the number of orphans and foster homes.” – Sarah C.

Slippery Slope
“Marriage is the legal binding of two consenting adults.” There, now we don’t have to worry about children, animals, or inanimate objects being married.

Okay, fine, but call it something else!
Why? If it looks like marriage, smells like marriage, acts like marriage, and tastes like marriage, it’s marriage.

Morally wrong
Who says? You? Does everybody share the same moral view as you? Should every one of our laws be based on what you, personally, find to be morally objectional? Would that be a reasonable way to determine the law for an entire country? If somebody other than you decided every law should be based on their opinion, would you agree with them?

Reader comment: “The simple fact that it wouldn’t harm anyone if your gay neighbors were married instead of just living together. People would go about the same lives with their same personal moral codes, except with marriage they’d be able to visit their sick spouse in the hospital.” – Sarah C.

Sure, what I’m proposing may seem like I think laws should be based on my opinion, but that’s only because my opinion is that none of a country’s citizens should be discriminated against. Unfortunately, I will still be accused of being “intolerant of intolerance” or “discriminating against discrimination.” Y’know what? I’m okay with that. If you can’t tell the difference, shame on you.

3 thoughts on “Same-sex marriage

  1. Are there any divorce lawyers against SSM?

    Two YouTube videos EVERY Atheist, with a sense of humor, should watch

  2. Thoughts:

    Marriage already requires informed consent so it already precludes the slippery slope.

    Hindus already occasionally marry young women to animals, said animals being considered scions of their respective gods. I have no more details on this beyond the occasional internet article doing the “theist-point-and-laugh at those crazy primitives with -their- crazy rituals (now please pass me the transubstantiated cannibal wafers and juice).” So if the slippery slope argument were real then that slope has already been slipped far, far down.

    Procreation has -provably- -never- been the basis of any state -or- religious interest in marriage. Look at the catholic wedding vows. Richer, poorer, sickness, health… but no “as long as we both shall breed”. Look at the legal words for the in-laws; brother, sister, mother and father, all in-laws. Look at the Code of Adam where a guy has to take up the wives of his deceased brothers. Marriage has -always- been about stabilizing society by preventing, or at least minimizing, “adult orphans”.

    I spent six or eight years with another guy in a completely non-sexual relationship (I knew where he’d been and we weren’t each other’s “type” 8-). During that time I did things for him like paid his room and board while he went to college (cutting his student eventual student loan burden in half), and eventually I got hit by a car and had my right knee crushed pretty good. This was an actual domestic partnership of limited term. We did this because it worked for us at a lot of different levels, and this is what -I- think “domestic partnership” should mean (as opposed to being a code-word for marriage-but-not).

    So when my knee got crushed they let him into the hospital (assuming we -were- lovers no doubt) after the car ran me over in a crosswalk. And he took care of me for the several months of recovery. He drove me around and made sure I was eating while full of the pain meds and all that stuff. Without him I would have had to spend a lot longer than three days in the hospital and would have needed to hire in-home care and take a lot of Taxis and such. Now we didn’t have any legal basis to require the hospital to let him in nor for me to levy this duty on him. But that’s because the hospital was reasonable and neither of us are lazy when it comes to caring for others in our lives.

    We are something of an exception as I understand things.

    If he’d been a normal room mate things would likely have been a lot harder. If I’d lived alone things would have been unworkable and I might have lost my job. Heck the company I worked for would have been screwed totally, I was the sole developer of a massively important piece of software and our principle client had said “deliver by Feb 1 or we are out” (and I had been hit on Dec 31) so I finished the project on a laptop, stoned out of my gourd on the couch on pain meds for a month, while the housemate made sure I ate and could get to things and food was bought and all that stuff.

    In the absence of this higher-than-normal duty to a peer, there would have been huge personal and financial ramifications to my otherwise pretty mundane injury. If things had gotten worse we both had family members far, far away that would have stepped in for us.

    Marriage is the way we cement -adult- families together so that we don’t end up with -way- more isolated adults than we already have. It is a cross-member support for all of society.

    We disallow plural marriage because it was -never- practiced uniformly. It’s always been one man with many wives. This isn’t bad for that one man, nor his many wives, it’s bad for -society- because for every wife passed one, there is, statistically, a “spare man” who will never be anchored into adult society. Look at the boys being excommunicated wholesale from that one “Fundamentalist Mormon” group in Nevada. And so on.

    The State does not require unwed procreators to marry upon the discovery of pregnancy. The State does not dissolve marriages automatically when one partner is found to be an unfit guardian (we take the children away from both adults) or when it is proven that one partner is sterile. [The State -does- bar close relatives from marriage because it can produce inferior offspring, but that is really about the fact that said offspring are likely to grow into fully dependent non-functioning adult dependents of the state, and it serves no purpose because it doesn’t add any stability to the society since the brother-sister bond already fills that role etc. and the union doesn’t add in-laws an so forth. Go figure.]

    So all of the arguments against gay marriage boil away once the institution is actually measured.

    The secret truth is that, having argued this with those people in person, “they” just don’t believe that two people of the same gender would feel for one another they way “they” feel for their spouse. So “they” see the “not as deep feelings” as blanching away the value of their own declaration. “They” don’t get the fact that gay people are wired up to be gay so they imagine that we are all faking it or pretending to feel since they cannot imagine the attraction they don’t feel.

    The het-only marriage people simply lack empathy or the ability to understand that other people -really- -are- different inside their own heads.

    This is the same failure of reason that leads to the assumption that atheists are really “worshiping science” “because everybody must be worships something” etc.

  3. And if anybody accuses you of being “intolerant of intolerance”, then good; because intolerance is the one thing we absolutely should not tolerate!

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