AlienGF and I are trying out a new idea and discussing a different issue each week. I'm targeting Saturday for this feature, but if it is popular enough, I will change the day. The following is strictly our opinions, feel free to disagree.
Earlier this week, a California judge ruled to reverse the state’s ban on same-sex marriage citing that the ban was unconstitutional under California law. The ban is still in force pending an immediate appeal by supporters of the Prop 8 legislation which outlaws same-sex couples from getting married by “defining” marriage as a union between only one man and one woman. While I am not “personally” affected by this ruling I still feel that I want to comment on the ruling.
What is marriage?
AlienCG: Marriage, in my opinion, should be the civil and/or spiritual union between two people who love each other. Period. The definition proposed under Prop 8 and similar measures defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Period. It does not mention love or any type of deep feeling. Isn’t that what most people recognize as the basis of marriage in this country?
AlienGF: Although the definition of marriage and the reasons people get married have changed throughout history and from culture to culture, there are certain things that most people agree on in this culture at this time: That a marriage is committed (it lasts forever unless something goes terribly wrong), it creates or cements a family (with or without children), and that it is motivated by love. If any two people wish to commit themselves to each other, to become a family, and if they truly love each other (which two people of the same sex can), then those two people should be allowed to marry.
Doesn’t same-sex marriage reduce the value of marriage?
CG: This is a common argument in support of “traditional” marriage. To me, a couple that gets married for “strategic” reasons is a greater threat to marriage than a same-sex couple who is in love. According to the Barna Group and confirmed by the Associated Press, the group that most fervently opposes same-sex marriage (and was responsible for Prop8 legislation), Evangelical/Born Again Christians, has the highest divorce rate (34%) among Christian faith groups. Ironically, atheists and agnostics have the lowest divorce rate (21%). If anything reduces the value of marriage, it’s the loudest voices in the debate having the highest divorce rate.
GF: This reminds me of a comment by George Carlin: if the population is increasing, and each human being has a soul, then doesn’t that reduce the value of souls? It’s a ridiculous question. Ask any happy couple if the value of their relationship can be reduced by the actions of any other couple, or of the government. Do you love each other less? Do you feel less committed to each other? Does your marriage produce less joy for you and your family? If so, then perhaps the problem isn’t how valuable your marriage is, but how much you value your marriage and your spouse.
The purpose of marriage is procreation.
CG: Really? By this rationale people who are sterile and cannot conceive children or those who do not wish to have children should be banned from getting married as well. Adoption is a possibility and most states do not discriminate based on sexual preference.
GF: Linked with this particular argument is the equally deep-rooted notion that the highest purpose a woman can serve is to marry and to bear children. Nowadays, a woman can achieve all the things a man can, and can marry for love even without wanting children. In addition, single parenthood is a viable option for the individual who feels called to parenthood but hasn’t found a suitable partner in that endeavor, or whose chosen partner isn’t available for whatever reason. Marriage and parenthood are no longer inextricably linked, so couples who would be unable to have children should not be barred from getting married.
Children need both a father and a mother.
CG: Tell that to single mothers and single fathers who have successfully raised well-adjusted children. There are plenty of cases of “traditional” couples who have kids that can be considered “screwed up” as well. Not even anecdotal evidence can support this statement.
GF: The studies often cited for this particular argument are comparing the children of two happily married parents to the children of divorced parents. It doesn’t take a statistician to notice the confounding variable there.
Men and women are different in ways that compliment one another and one cannot provide what the other can in a relationship.
CG: Being a heterosexual male, I would be hard-pressed to answer this question with any clarity. However, I would assume that there are many success stories among the gay community. I will give AlienGF the floor on this one.
GF: This particular argument has nothing to do with sexual attraction; it’s obvious that most people are attracted to a certain sex, and often to particular traits within that sex. I, personally, have a thing for deep voices and large noses. But people are very diverse, both in their bodies and their personalities, and to say that “All women have a set of traits that perfectly compliment the traits of all men” ignores that diversity. Gays in particular tend to buck the gender trends, displaying traits in defiance of the traditional gender roles. Even if you think it’s unnatural and morally wrong, you cannot deny the existence of such outliers; the existence of opposition disproves the argument.
The Civil Union of a same-sex is the same as marriage without the license.
CG: Many politicians would have you believe that this statement is true, but it’s far from it. This is not strictly a religious issue, but also a financial issue when it comes to the insurance industry. Right now, in a “recognized union”, the health insurance premium for the partner being insured is taken after taxes are deducted (in all other cases, health insurance is tax-deductible). The premium pays for a lesser plan compared to “traditional” family plans. So, a civil union is the same as marriage? I think not. It has also been reported that life insurance companies have refused to pay off on a same-sex partner’s policy when the person filing is the beneficiary for the policy.
GF: Even if Civil Unions became equal to marriage through legal reform, why use a separate name? Why should the government have two policies that are the same except for superficial details? One proposal I have heard is to do away with marriage as a legal term entirely, and have Civil Union take its place. But I think even that would be needlessly complicated. Just keep marriage law the way it is, and allow same-sex couples to take advantage of the institution that already exists instead of reinventing the wheel.
CG: Live and let live. The fact is that marriage is not “defined” in any way that is clear to anyone. Many people try to claim that marriage is defined by the Bible, but it also says many other things as well. The Bible claims that murder, eating shellfish, talking back to your parents and homosexuality are all equal crimes (an abomination before the Lord). I challenge somebody to soundly justify the equality noted here (NOTE: Simply stating lesser degree is not a sound argument). Homosexuality is not evil, but a fact of genetics (Kinsey discovered it early on, the study of genetics has confirmed it) that should be recognized. It’s a shame that in this nation, we still find it necessary to discriminate on any basis.
GF: As a longtime defier of tradition and a longtime friend of gays, gay marriage has always been part of my hopes for the future of America. I see no reason to oppose it that is founded in reason or compassion for human beings. The wheels of history have already begun to turn: sooner or later, change will be made, and it looks like it’s going to be soon.