I was just wondering if anyone has ever came across any good secular arguments against gay marriage. All I ever seem to hear is about how being gay is immoral, and they get that immorality thesis from the Bible so it doesn't really apply.

Tags: civil, gay, marriage, rights

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This is one of those issues where I'm torn. It seems to come down to an argument over the definition of a word. If we want to have "marriage" mean the union between a man and a women, then that's what it means. Of course, it doesn't mean that we wouldn't (and shouldn't) grant ALL the legal benefits to same sex union couples.

But then again, we could simply change the meaning of the word (and digress the conversation into a matter of prescriptive vs descriptive linguistics... )

Australia has equal rights for marriages and same sex unions. Seperate, but equal. Unfortunatley, this is not an acceptable tenent for a democracy. By granting same rights to both forms of union then legally it would seem we are off the hook? No, a marriage is a marriage and having a seperate union for lgbt community implies they are not deserving of marriage and should be down right offensive to any equality loving human being.

I don't know that you can slough off at least 5,000 years of marriage being between men and women. You see it one way, someone else sees it another way. To some, based on their beliefs (which may not be held in a state of malice at all), same sex marriage might seem little different than allowing marriage between humans and dogs or cats (something PETA might soon be arguing for, since they seem intent on giving animals human-like rights).

I don't think you're taking the opposition seriously enough.

Don't misunderstand me: I'm not taking one side or the other here. Just saying it's very easy to be so enthusiastic for one's own view that one can't empathize with those who hold the other view.

Don't always assume that people who disagree with you have evil ulterior motives.

After all, it's simply a dispute over a word, as long as the rights are the same. A rose by any other name...no?

After all, it's simply a dispute over a word, as long as the rights are the same. A rose by any other name...no?

No.  If there is going to be a legal discrepancy, it has to be rationally justified.  That, I believe, is the larger issue.  One doesn't need to slough off five thousand years years of history, as neither the term itself nor the concept it represents have clear and consistant definition across that timeline.  There are even some instances of same-sex pairing and marriages in the mix.

But why should we be slaves to history anyway?  Same-sex marriage is a perfectly logical application of the term 'marriage' that reflects the current values of a growing number of regions.  It's the exact same union as current heterosexual marriages only with a different anatomical arrangement.  I'm not going to tell Bill and Steve that they can't use a word for themselves because  Tom and Sue don't like it.  Tom and Sue need to present a legitimate argument to support their case.  If the semantic/ etymological argument panned out, we'd have to undo the bulk of the English language.

Like I said, I'm not taking one side or the other, but I'm happy to play Devil's Advocate.

But why should we be slaves to history anyway?  Same-sex marriage is a perfectly logical application of the term 'marriage' that reflects the current values of a growing number of regions.  It's the exact same union as current heterosexual marriages only with a different anatomical arrangement.


Why be slaves to the history that marriage always involves humans. Already we hear of people wanting to marry a pet or their girlfriend's corpse. You want a logical reason? Okay, it's simply obviously the first gentle angle in what is a slippery slope we can already see ahead of us. 

No.  If there is going to be a legal discrepancy, it has to be rationally justified.

Perhaps, but the discepancy is more linguistic than legal. A legal definition would have a legally relevant distinction, but it sounds like a case where the only difference is a word with no distinction in terms of rights (property and inheritance rights, rights to parent children, rights to visit their mate when they are in the hospital). You're arguing about a distinction without a difference, and you're making well-meaning traditionalists unhappy with no particular intent, it seems, then to make them unhappy.

Why be slaves to the history that marriage always involves humans. Already we hear of people wanting to marry a pet or their girlfriend's corpse. You want a logical reason?

Neither the pet nor the corpse can consent to a legal union.  Living gay people can consent to legal unions.  You aren't presenting a slippery slope, but rather a radical leap to the opposite bank, where the slope happens to be mossy.

Polygamy might have been a better issue to use, but even then, there's a problem with this line of reasoning.  The slope doesn't start with gay marriage; it starts with heterosexual marriage.  If you let the straights marry, then the gays and polygamists are going to want to marry too... and one sure as hell can't pull the historical argument agains polygamists. 

Perhaps, but the discepancy is more linguistic than legal.

I think it's the reverse.  The linguistic issue itself is unimportant.  If we're talking about Australia as the example, I doubt anyone would be arrested, fined or even cautioned for a saying, "Liza and Louise got married," after entering into a union with each other.  The issue is the practice of creating a separate legal standard for LGBT people.  True, that separate legal standard may boil down to one single word in this case, but this is where the true slippery slope lies: on what basis should governments be allowed to create separate legal standards for peoples under their jurisdiction?

Other cases, such as the legal rights and entitlements of minors, have rational justification.  If someone disagrees with the relevant policy, they can appeal them on rational grounds.  So what of same-sex marriages and unions?  What was the rational basis for the legislation?  How can one overturn it other than to say it is not rational?  But if it's not rational, then you have the problem of irrational legislation being put into effect.  How do you create a rational barrier against irrational legislation?

You're arguing about a distinction without a difference, and you're making well-meaning traditionalists unhappy with no particular intent, it seems, then to make them unhappy.

My intent is clear.  I support full equality in both the letter and spirit of the law unless a rational argument can be put forward against it.  While it's unfortunate that so-called 'traditionalists' are unhappy with, the law cannot be accountable to people's happiness to that degree.  I would think some tangible form of harm would need to be demonstrated before placing limitations on the rights of others, even if that right is simply the legal use of a term.

The slope STARTS with heterosexual marriage? By that logic, EVERYTHING that exists is the start of a slope. Private property is the start of a slide toward state ownership. Long skirts are the start of a slope toward short skirts. Healthy living is the start of a slope toward ill health. No, the status quo is a plateau.

Remember, I'm still playing Devil's Advocate here, but doesn't it make more sense for a rational justification AWAY from what's been the case for thousands of years? Why is it that new ways don't have to justify themselves by proving they are equal to or better than traditions?

If you''re basing your support on an appeal to Justice, then prove that it's more just to the children of gay couples to be raised in gay families than in heterosexual families. Prove that it's a better world if we use the word "marriage" instead of "union" (or whatever the word is in Australia).

When people insist on change, it is clear that the burden of proof is on them, not on those in the traditional position. Why, because the tradition exists through some process proving that it is successful, better, or that there is a need for it. A process akin to natural selection.

Something new cannot make a claim for itself without attacking whatever it seeks to set aside.

So far, I see no proof.

The slope STARTS with heterosexual marriage?

By that logic, EVERYTHING that exists is the start of a slope.

No, a slippery slope just requires that a trend from one point to a greater extreme can be established.  My point is that the slippery slope argument is a bad one, but that at it's logical extension heterosexual marriage is the start of the trend.  The logic in saying that same-sex marriage is a slippery slope boils down to: if we permit x, the case for y strengthens.  The reality is, the argument has already been formed that in permitting opposite-sex marriage, the case for same-sex marriage strengthened, and indeed, we have cases where this can be demonstrated.  The Ontario Supreme Court and the Decision of the Canadian Federal Parliament under Paul Martin both cite opposite-sex marriage as the basis for the right to same-sex marriage.  If it was a slippery slope, opposite-sex marriage would be the start of the trend.  Status quo is actually irrelevant; the trigger was enshrining that tradition into law.

But it's not actually a slippery slope issue anyway.  It's an equality issue and boundaries can be set, at the very least, where consent can and cannot be given.

Remember, I'm still playing Devil's Advocate here, but doesn't it make more sense for a rational justification AWAY from what's been the case for thousands of years?

What has been the case for thousands of years?  Most current governments are not thousands of years old.  They do not have legislation that is thousands of years old and that is what we are talking about: modern legislation.  We can't be accountable to laws preceding our governments, especially where marriage is concerned and the laws and customs are not all applicable, reasonable, or even clear.

If we go back thousands of years, perhaps we end up at Rome shortly before the supposed advent of Christ.  It's not entirely clear what the status of same-sex marriage was, but there are cultural references to it, and some documentation of the rituals being performed and marriage entitlements being granted.  The actual legal status is hazy, but at the very least, it existed culturally.  It was eventually banned around the fourth century implying, at the very least, that it was a legal issue.

Now that hardly makes a compelling case for same-sex marriage, but it does illustrate a lack of continuity in this 'thousands of years' of tradition.  Laws have changed on who can marry whom, dowries, obligations and other issues.  the variances exist across regions, and even within the same regions, across time.  So what thousands of years are you talking about?

 

Why is it that new ways don't have to justify themselves by proving they are equal to or better than traditions?

Because it is an equality issue.  Same-sex marriage isn't competing with opposite-sex marriage; the definition just expands to be applied with equality.  Why would it need to prove that it is equal or superior?  For what purpose?  Equality is, in itself, a virtue in most modern nations.

In Loving v. Virginia, on anti-miscegenation laws the Supreme Court of the United States said:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

While this, in itself, does not make the case for same-sex marriage, it speaks to the heart of the matter.  The principles here are the same principles at play in the same-sex marriage debate.

When the issue was debated in Canada right before the Civil Marriage Act was passed in 2005, then Prime Minister Paul Martin had this to say:

Third, some have counseled the government to extend to gays and lesbians the right to "civil union." This would give same-sex couples many of the rights of a wedded couple, but their relationships would not legally be considered marriage. In other words, they would be equal, but not quite as equal as the rest of Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, the courts have clearly and consistently ruled that this option would offend the equality provisions of the Charter. For instance, the British Columbia Court of Appeal stated that, and I quote "Marriage is the only road to true equality for same-sex couples. Any other form of recognition of same-sex relationships ...falls short of true equality."

Put simply, we must always remember that "separate but equal" is not equal. What's more, those who call for the establishment of civil unions fail to understand that the Government of Canada does not have the constitutional jurisdiction to do so. Only the provinces have that. Only the provinces could define such a regime - and they could define it in 10 different ways, and some jurisdictions might not bother to define it at all. There would be uncertainty. There would be confusion. There would certainly not be equality.

For countries that have not yet approved same-sex marriage, there are already several nations that have had it approved for over a half decade to no detriment.  While all nations have their unique qualities, this goes to show that same-sex marriage, itself, is not intrinsically harmful or degrading to cultures which recognize it.

If nothing else, it's a boon to the wedding industry and tax income.  When Prop. 8 was being scrutinized, estimates came in at $40 million in tax revenue, and $500 million in wedding-related spending over a three year period.  It's not an earth shattering sum, but it's nothing to be frivolously tossed aside.

If you're basing your support on an appeal to Justice, then prove that it's more just to the children of gay couples to be raised in gay families than in heterosexual families.

Irrelevant.  Same-sex partners can raise children regardless.  Adoption is the major current issue, but that is a separate issue.  Even so, studies don't seem to indicate that there is any issue with same-sex couples parenting children.

"The vast consensus of the studies is that children of same-sex parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual in every way," Dr. Perrin said. "In some ways, children of same-sex parents actually may have advantages over other family structures."

It has been estimated that one to six million children are being reared by committed lesbian or gay couples in this country. Some children were born to a heterosexual couple and later raised by a same-sex couple; others were placed in foster homes, were adopted, or conceived through a surrogate mother through artificial insemination.

Previous studies of same-sex parenting have been criticized for being biased, but Dr. Perrin said the research team was extremely careful to select only solid, evidence-based research for review.

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/514477

Prove that it's a better world if we use the word "marriage" instead of "union" (or whatever the word is in Australia).

Only one set of legislation would be required here.  Creating two separate terms leaves the game for separate interpretations of the rights and privileges afforded to each.  If they are identical in rights, it is simpler and more equitable to identify both unions under the same term.

Furthermore, LGBT people are part of the same community and culture as the supposed 'traditionalists'.  Many of them were raised with the same customs, values and attachments connected with marriage as a cultural institution.  The relationships they have fulfill the exact same role as those of heterosexual relationships, so it is natural that they would want to cement their bonds with the matrimonial bonds of their culture.  If the word has symbolic value to folks who oppose same-sex marriage, why do we not consider that it also has symbolic value to those desiring same-sex marriage (for themselves or loved ones) who are part of the same culture(s)?  If the two groups have to compete, it is unethical to vote in favor of one group restricting the rights of another on the sole basis of their preference.

When people insist on change, it is clear that the burden of proof is on them, not on those in the traditional position. Why, because the tradition exists through some process proving that it is successful, better, or that there is a need for it. A process akin to natural selection.

It is akin to natural selection, but you are mistaken on how natural selection works.  Customs are merely traits of a culture, and traits are not required to be beneficial or even functional to be carried forward.  They can even be detrimental provided they are not detrimental to the point of impeding survival.

In this case, however, those that want to maintain their traditions are not asked to change a thing about their lives.  The inclusion of same-sex marriage does not alter existing marriage traditions; it simply expands the tradition for the pretty much the same reason as always: the institution of marriage has continually been revised in order to bring it in line with contemporary views and cultural values.  The catalyst for change here was greater recognition of equality and its application toward LGBT people. 

Something new cannot make a claim for itself without attacking whatever it seeks to set aside.

What is it attacking?  What is getting set aside?  The right of heterosexuals to dictate how homosexuals live their lives and define their relationships?

The problem with civil unions is that they lack portability. If same-sex marriage is not recognized federally, any rights that you have been given by your civil union, whether they be the same as marriage or not, are not recognized as soon as you leave the state. That is not equal.

And on the note of people always jumping to the conclusion that we are on the slope of people being allowed to marry their pets or girlfriends corpse.. how is it that this leap is made? It's not even comparable. Talking about same-sex marriage is still under the presumption that we are talking about two adults giving their mutual consent to enter into a marriage. It is not comparable to a pet or corpse or what have you, that cannot consent.

That can be fixed and probably will be once the Supreme Court deals with the question.

I agree completely. Giving the lgbt community a separate but equal status just deems them second class citizens. It's just saying that even though they may deserve equal rights, they are not deserving of a marriage.

You know, a lot has to do with one's attitude. Reading into it something that wasn't intended. I'm sure everyone who worked so hard to give gays equal rights had no idea their good deed would be sending a "You don't deserve marriage" message. 

What evidence do you have that it has anything to do with what gays deserve? Were there, in the debates leading to the legislation anyone testifying "Gays don't deserve to have this labeled 'marriage'?" I doubt it.

In the end, we are all responsible for our feelings and how we respond to what happens to us. Don't make it someone else's responsibility, especially when a lot of hetero legislators took a big risk by bucking the sentiments of a huge part of the electorate.

I'm sure some of the legislators who spent a huge amount of political capital to give gays equal rights are having that "No good deed goes unpunished" feeling.

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