This blog covers a myriad of topics such as medicine, medical school, atheism, philosophy, humanism, and the general life experiences of a young man encountering them.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Election topic: Gay Marriage
I'm in an ongoing debate concerning whether or not gay marriage should be made law. I think that it should. I wonder if any of my blog readers have anything on the subject that they'd like to say.
My Case For Changing the Civil and Legal Definition of Marriage to Include Same Gender Couples
First, we’ll begin with definitions:
1. What do we mean by marriage in this context?
2. What are Same Gender Relationships? (this is important in our analogy within the Civil Rights Argument) a. What is homosexuality?
And the conclusion… this is painless. :-D
3. The Case for Civil rights a. The importance of Civil Rights. b. Gay Marriage is a matter of civil rights that is different, but analogous to the change in marriage law to include interracial marriages. I will ultimately argue that the Supreme Court case that recognized Interracial Marriages as a civil right under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution has.
1. What do we mean when we say Marriage?
Quote: My Opponent says, "We have all talked about marriage in our own terms. My ordering toward procreation, Erik's expression of love, Corvines "human well being", and all of that, these are not the objective definition of marriage. If you are to look at just the objective definition of marriage, without any connotation whatsoever, it is just a word. Marriage means marriage, just like how cheese means cheese, and jump means jump."
The debate that we’re having concerns the civil, legal union of (at the moment) of a man and a woman. For the purposes of this debate, we are only talking about the civil institution of marriage as it is recognized by the government. That is, informal or non-legal union (such as any religious ceremony) is not what we’re talking about.
Because we are talking about the civil institution, it is subject to law, and law is subject to lawmakers. These lawmakers can change the law to reflect the desires of their voting constituencies (the people) while at the same time ensuring as much personal liberty as possible (ideally). So, marriage in this sense, is a social creation. Also, it doesn’t appear that the people of the U.S. want to get rid of marriage and still wish the institution to persist… so I’m not going to concern my arguments with whether or not we should get rid of it.
This also raises another important point: Marriage exists only as how we define it as a civilization. Marriage has not looked the same over time, and responds to the rapid evolution of our social mores and taboos.
-Until the mid 19th Century, women had no legal rights in marriage. They could not own property, sign contracts, or legally control any wages they might earn.
-As late as 1930, twelve states allowed boys as young as 14 and girls as young as 12 to marry (with parental consent).
-As late as 1940, married women were not allowed to make a legal contract in twelve states.
-In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia. As a result of the decision, Virginia and fifteen other states had their anti-miscegenation laws declared unconstitutional. Those states were: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.
Quote: My opponent also says, ”Here is the interesting part: most of the connotations of marriage are derived from the objective definition, and its practice. If you change marriage, you change the connotations that are attached to it.”
This illuminates a fundamental flaw in many arguments concerning same sex marriage: opponents believe that there is some objective definition of marriage. Examining the historical record shows that this is simply mistaken.
Here are some attributes of a civil and legal marriage and the attached connotations:
1. The people getting married must be of legal age and consenting adults. In most instances this is 18 years old (the time the country recognizes, for the most part, that you are an adult). This completely invalidates any argument for pedophilic marriages (they aren’t adults or legally consenting) or human-animal marriages (they aren’t legally consenting citizens).
2. Marriage typically requires proof of citizenship; however it doesn’t preclude one partner from having citizenship in a different couple from getting a legally-recognized marriage. I just tacked this on there because it further invalidates the human-animal marriage “rebuttal”.
3. You also must be mentally lucid in order to get married. This is important because it (ideally) prevents people from obtaining marriages while intoxicated for obvious reasons (namely that it distorts our judgment and ability to give sound consent). This is just the final nail in the coffin of the human animal marriage argument.
4. You cannot be too-closely related to your intended spouse. So incest is out.
5. Either partner can have any possible ethnicity without prohibition or penalty. We’ll get to why this later.
Here are some things about marriage that aren’t required. 1. You are not required to be in love. This is because there is no way in a court of law for us to prove one way or another that two people are or aren’t in love. This usually is not an issue because marriage is a contract made by consenting adults, and people that aren’t in love don’t tend to get married. I make this point because any debate about whether or not homosexuals are in love is just as irrelevant.
2. You are not required to have sex, to prove you’ve had sex, or to pledge to have sex. I’m sure this sounds strange when talking about marriage, but bear with me. Shakers can get legally married. Celibate monks can get married. Marriage is not a recognition of a sexual relationship, it is a recognition of a legal relationship. This is also why it is a false distinction to suggest that “sex matters” when homosexuals wish to get married. Recognizing a Same Sex Relationship does not, therefore, require that there be any commentary on the sex life of that relationship—it is a legal non-issue. This also means that, contrary to what my opponent has stated, marriage is not changed so that it connotes their “sexual behavior”. Here’s where I believe the logic of my opponent is mistaken:
Quote: ”If sexual preferences or the act of sex is irrelevant, then a homosexual can enjoy marriage to a member of the opposite gender (another irrelevant point) just as much as a heterosexuals could enjoy this marriage. So, there is no reason to alter the definition of marriage to suit sexual desires, preferences, or orientation because those are irrelevant to the issue and to practice. If you are saying that sex is such a relevant factor that constitutes change to marriage (the defining factor for homosexuals), then you are tearing down the loving, caring, and compassionate side of marriage to being about sex and sexual acts that are not about procreation. You say things by doing this, like the relationship that a man and a woman have can't be what it is without the sexual desire/act in regards to non-procreative purposes. This, of course, is a slap in the face of these relationships.
You should understand from paragraph 2 why this is an erroneous position. Even though I say sex is irrelevant, I do not say that the consensual relationship is irrelevant. Quite the opposite, in fact. You bring up procreation… which leads to the next point…
3. You are not required to ever, if the consenting adults choose, make children. As many marriages do tend to result in childbirth, the institution has accommodated this through multiple benefits as well as equally (legally) shared partnership by the couple over the raising of the child. Now, I think that these benefits should be given to all parents, regardless of the marital status and for the most part they are—if only for the sake of the child. The reason I bring this up is because my opponent defines marriage this as such: Quote: I have to repeat this point nearly every post it seems: "Ordered Toward" does not mean "Only a Means to". The key difference is that success or failure at an attempt does not change the nature of that attempt at all. Therefore, the infertility of a couple is classified as a "failed attempt" at procreation, instead of being different in nature altogether. If you have a relationship that is founded on the infertility of one or both of the partners, then this is an abomination that does not deserve the respect of marriage.
You probably know why this statement is also wrong. Marriage is not “founded on fertility” (my quotes, not his, I know what his statement reads). This is not how we define marriage. Marriage makes legal provisions for a couple that decide to have babies, but it is not about babies.
Tangentially, it should also be noted that an infertile couple’s “attempt” at procreation will be as successful as a homosexual couple’s attempt—every time. Neither are “failed attempts”, they are both “futile attempts” (depending on the severity of the infertility, of course). However this makes me wonder… if the last line is to be supported, what about the young married couple that decide they don’t want to procreate? What if the woman gets a hysterectomy? Should we then remove their rights as a married couple because they are willfully abstaining from procreation?
I suspect that you do not think we should.
2. What are Same Gender Relationships? This one should be easy. Same gender relationships or, if you prefer the Greek, homosexual (meaning of the same sex, or gender) relationships are by all definitions completely similar to their heterosexual counterparts except in two regards:
-The members of the relationship are the same gender! -Because they are the same gender, any sexual activity that they choose to participate in will not produce offspring!
Other than this, there is no reason to believe that same gender couples cannot carry on the same relationships that heterosexual couples (you know, the folks we let marry each other) do!
But that’s strange! Why would anyone be attracted to the same gender?
Good question. There’s no smoking gun that people are born with their sexual orientation completely sorted out. However, there is good evidence to suggest that there is a genetic component and environmental component to the people they desire to have relationships with.
But there is an important lesson to be learned: asking for the specific reasons that people are homosexual is a valid scientific inquiry, it is actually secondary to an even more important fact. Human beings have no choice in what gender they choose to form meaningful (sometimes intimate) relationships with. It’s also worth mentioning that we don’t consider homosexuality the same as Albinism or Klinefelter Syndrome (my opponent suggests any comparison to genetics demands this analogy) for the obvious reason there is no pathology associated with homosexuality (there’s also intrinsic to Klinefelter or Albinism that would preclude them from getting married).
Now why is this important…?
Let’s examine a bit of history:
3. The Case for Civil Rights
Rewind the clock to April of 1967. The Apollo program has started up recently, the Vietnam War is in full swing, and one year from now (nearly to the day) Martin Luther King Jr. will be assassinated. However, he would live to see some of his dream fulfilled. For 3 years ago, in 1964, congress passed the U.S. Civil Rights act which stated, “All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin or sex.” This also validated the 14th Amendment, which ensures all people due process and equal protection under our laws.
Anyway, the Supreme Court is hearing a case. A white man, Richard Loving, married a non-white (she was of mixed Native American and African American descent) woman outside of their home state of Virginia. They did this because Virginia had a law known as the “Racial Integrity Marriage” which banned the marriage of any white and non-white couple (this was known as an anti-miscegenation law). Police discovered them in their home (after they had returned to marriage) and attempted to prosecute them for breaking this law….a case which worked its way up to the Supreme Court and this eventful day. The trial lasted from April until June 12th; when the Supreme Court made its, unanimous, decision that the anti-miscegenation laws were indeed unconstitutional and violated the right of the couple to due process and equal protection of the law (including marriage) protected by our 14th Amendment.
So why do I bring up interracial marriage as an analogy?
Because my opponent’s statement… Quote: If sexual preferences or the act of sex is irrelevant, then a homosexual can enjoy marriage to a member of the opposite gender (another irrelevant point) just as much as a heterosexuals could enjoy this marriage. …is no less bigoted than a Virginian suggesting that because interracial marriage is an aberration of “his definition” of marriage, Loving can enjoy a marriage as long as it’s with a white woman.
Some people grow up and find they are attracted to blondes. Others like brunettes. Still others prefer a sense of humor, curly hair, compassion, honesty, small feet, a big nose, green eyes, a laugh, a brilliant smile, dark skin, light skin. Some men like men. And some women like women. None of us have a choice in what general characteristics we like. Hopefully all of us will find someone who finds us as fascinating, unique, beautiful, funny, and profound and choose to spend their lives with us. Usually our country doesn’t care about our preferences. And they shouldn’t.
Because if two consenting adults decide to live the rest of their lives together and have this union recognized by the country, I believe they have a Constitutional Right to do so. And I have yet to hear a good reason that this shouldn’t be so.
I’m proud of my country. It was founded on this idea of freedom. But when it comes to the story of Same Sex Marriage… we still live in a tragic era where we deny the civil liberties based upon a moral objection against a particular relationship preference.
My moral objection shouldn’t impinge upon your freedoms so long as your freedoms don’t limit mine. I’ve got hope that the ideologues will set aside their freedoms and embrace the idea that, “while I might not agree with your choices, I’ll protect to the death your liberty.”