Marriage Equality

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Time and time again, the reasons against legalization of same-sex “marriage” are given, and time and time again they fall on deaf ears that are less interested in reason and more interested in forced acceptance of their romantic escapades.

But I’ll risk stating some of them again in the hopes that perhaps someone out there has decided to be rational as opposed to emotional today.

First off, marriage equality already exists in all parts of the United States and so the movement for marriage equality is misleading. How so you ask? Because the rules governing marriage do not discriminate against sexual orientation. How so you inquire? Because orientation is not what makes a marriage, and it is of little relevance to the state, and the state does not prevent homosexually oriented persons from marrying. A gay man can marry any woman. A lesbian can marry any man.

Ahhhhh, you almost tricked me you crazy guy!

But it’s true. The state is not in the business of rubber stamping romantic relationships. What interest is that of the state? The state’s existence isn’t for the purpose of regulating personal contracts about wills and healthcare and tax incentives. In fact if that was the reason for the state’s existence, we would be much better off without the state. So why is the state involved in these romantic relationships? It’s a good question. Some of us believe the state would do best to get out of the marriage game altogether.

But the state is involved because the state represents the people and the people have a vested interest in marriage because in the marital bond, new life is created and that life needs to be protected. And so the state gets involved in marriage to 1)make sure that parents are caring for their child and to 2)assist by providing certain benefits to married couples to ease the burdens of childrearing, which all of society benefits from.

Now the state doesn’t care what the color of your skin is in your marriage. That is irrelevant to reproduction. The state doesn’t care about your age if you are past the age of minimum consent. The state doesn’t even care if you love your spouse or if you are attracted to them. They only care that you are a man and woman because only a man and a woman can conceive, and they also usually limit your degree of relation in order to minimize the chances of genetic disorders resulting from incest.

Marriage, to the state, is nothing more than responsible rearing of the children resulting from the marital union. That is the state’s only interest and only reasonable reason to be involved in marriage. And that is why the state does not need to recognize the romantic relationships of same-sex couples. The relationships are not the same. They never have been and they never will be. Biology 101. End of story.

The rules of marriage are the same for all people: marry someone of the opposite sex who is more than x degrees away from you in relation by blood. Orientation does not matter. Marriage equality already exists.

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6 thoughts on “Marriage Equality

  1. I’ve commented before that I don’t understand your insistence on defending why the State is interested in heterosexual marriage when a religious defense could be much stronger. But it seems like you are going to keep resorting to explaining the state’s role in all this, so let me ask an honest follow-up question.

    Let’s accept the premise that the state’s interest in heterosexual marriage is reproduction. It sounds like a reasonable premise. However, it ignores the reality of many marriages that the state allows. When people get married, there is no requirement that couples actually produce children. When people get married, there are no fertility tests. Many couples never have children. Some couples do have children, but then divorce, and then remarry, but do not have children in their second and subsequent marriages (sometimes because the couple is too old for children by the time they remarry). And yet the state allows remarriage. Some couples divorce so soon into their marriage that they have no children. And plenty of infertile couples marry and then adopt children (in this case, adoption is probably in the interest of the state).

    However, as you’ve discussed at length in your Catholic defenses of marriage, you say that all of these caveats are distractions from the real issue. From the Catholic perspective, childless marriages are wrong, especially if childlessness is achieved through birth control. Childlessness due to infertility is a side issue, you’ve said (which you’ve never offered a satisfactory explanation for, but that’s beside the point).

    You see how your two lines of attack–the religious perspective and the statist perspective–are in conflict here? Let’s accept that childless marriages are indeed against God’s design, from the Catholic perspective. If the state’s interest was solely in protecting marriage for the purposes of procreation, why does it allow so many childless marriages?

    A couple paragraphs back, I mentioned that infertile (or old) couples that adopt children probably are in the interest of the state. This is probably true because state-run foster care is expensive and often doesn’t lead to good outcomes for children. It seems that the state is much more interested in offloading unwanted children to couples that can take care of them, rather than shuffling these children between foster homes. In fact, many third-world countries allow foreigners to adopt their children precisely because they can’t take care of all of their orphans.

    Adoption, it seems, IS in the interest of the state. And because homosexual couples have to adopt children (barring the use of a surrogate), it seems like the state WOULD be interested in promoting homosexual marriages as a way of finding homes for orphans.

    So can you explain why the state wouldn’t be interested in promoting homosexual marriages in cases of adoption? Would this not lead to the strengthening of the family unit, the rearing of children, and other beneficial outcomes for society at large?

    • And I’ve met your comments about an insistence to defend the state’s interest in marriage with the fact that an atheist doesn’t give a fig about a religious argument. The current discussion in our culture isn’t about religious marriage, its about the secular legalization of homosexual marriage, and so we must understand why the state has an interest in marriage to begin with in order to have that conversation. That is why when other commentors come here who have no belief in God or a god, you have to star the conversation on turf that they comprehend, otherwise its just me talking to myself in a corner somewhere. And believe it or not, faith and reason go hand in hand. Arguing from natural law is just as worthy as arguing from faith, for God created both.

      I will take your points one at a time, but not necessarily in order. To begin, when I defend the state’s interest in marriage, it does not mean that I defend the current form of state condoned marriage. Divorce and remarriage are antithetical to marriage and it is a travesty that the state does not take seriously the marriages it legalizes, but that does not negate the state’s interest in marriage, anymore than eating junk food while watching a LOST marathon every weekend doesn’t negate that I have a self-interest in preserving my health regardless of whether I mind that interest or not. But divorce and remarriage are not currently where the cultural discussion is. That discussion happened long before I was born. I can have that discussion, but its like discussing what kind of burrito I’m going to order at a Chinese buffet. Nobody is listening, and nobody cares. So we have the conversation about gay “marriage”.

      Does the state allow childless marriages? Yes. Does that contradict the state’s interest in marriage being reproduction? No. Every marriage (or virtually every) that the state recognizes starts out childless. The state’s interest isn’t FORCED reproduction, but the potential of the conjugal act to result in reproduction. Some couples plan their children out very carefully, waiting for some level of financial security, this can take years, all along, be helped by certain state-side benefits to reach that goal. Some enter marriage knowing they are infertile, some don’t find out until after they are married. Some are very fertile, but just have bad luck and just don’t get the timing right for a very long time. Others can be diagnosed with infertility and spend thousands in treatments, only to find when they stop trying they get pregnant the normal way. The state isn’t interested in policing marriages, in invading the privacy of Americans by forcing them to undergo fertility tests prior to marriage or laying down a timeline for the first child or a quota of children. The state’s interest is in aiding in responsible reproduction through stable marriages while respecting the privacy of her married couples. And this is the point, the state has no way of reasonably knowing without serious privacy violations whether a couple can or is trying to conceive a child, so she treats them the same. But she knows without a shadow of a doubt that a homosexual couple is not going to conceive. There is no interest in nurturing that relationship and assisting it.

      As far as the adoption question goes, the state has an interest in providing for its orphans as close to a natural family situation as possible. Nature doesn’t provide children to the human species outside of the sexual act of a man and a woman. The scientific community has little evidence, despite what the left might say, that the genders of parents are irrelevant. It is not in the states interest to use its own citizens in such a sweeping and drastic sociology experiment. The natural right of a child is to be born to a father and a mother, not two fathers, not two mothers, nature doesn’t afford us that choice. As for whether the state should tolerate it to occur is a question I don’t have an answer to.

      All of these are reasonable questions, but the implication that I or the Catholic Church have said that childless marriages are wrong is completely unfounded and unwarranted. I have never said that on this blog, on Facebook, in public, or in private. It is simply not true, and is not something that would have ever crossed my mind to say, so where you are getting these I have no reasonable idea. The Church teaches that infertility is permissible to contract a valid marriage (so long as one partner does not hide previous knowledge of infertility from the other spouse prior to contracting marriage) because the couple is still able to consummate the marriage. There is also the fact that infertility is sort of a misnomer in that infertility is usually not absolute, but rather, a problem that severely lowers the chances of conceiving while not eliminating them entirely. As a people of the faith, we have countless Biblical witnesses in which barrenness was overcome by God, and we know that ultimately the gift of children comes from God’s providence, and so we trust patiently in him, even the couples that can seem hopelessly infertile. And therein lies the difference between infertility and contraception. Contraception is a rejection of God’s providence in fertility. It confuses the harmony of the nature of human sexuality so that a couple can have “sex without consequences”, whether well-intentioned or not. That is why the Church teaches that a couple may work in unity with the natural cycle of the woman to space births, or may refrain from the conjugal act altogether in a very serious case, but that the couple may not manipulate the conjugal act in order to thwart it. However, the Church does not teach that childless marriages are wrong and I have certainly never said that it does.

      • Alright, I guess let me restate. You’re right that childless marriages are not wrong, but I’m pretty sure you’ve said, as you just outlined in your response, that if childlessness is achieved through birth control, that that is a sin.

        And let’s accept the premise that the best way to reach atheists who read your blog is through secular arguments. My next question is, where did this line of thinking start, that the state’s interest in marriage is procreation? Honestly in all of my years listening to the debates about gay marriage, and from reading historical accounts in favor of interracial marriage, I have never once heard the argument from any politician, spiritual leader, or philosopher that the state regulates marriage because it is solely interested in children.

        If you’ve developed this argument yourself, props to you. But I’m just curious if you learned this argument from somewhere, and what the original proponents of it taught. Does this idea come from the Founding Fathers perhaps?

        The reason I’m asking is because I still don’t buy the argument that the state’s interest in marriage is primarily procreation. Procreation seems like a good place to start, but I think the state would also be interested in protecting families, whatever form those families take (as in the case of adoption, like I mentioned). Plus, the state’s regulation of marriage extends far beyond children. Think of how many financial and legal connections there are between spouses. The state regulates the purchase of property by spouses, businesses run by spouses, tax situations of spouses. There’s a reason the court system has a whole branch devoted to family law. When divorces and other unfortunate situations happen, it can be quite messy to untangle a marriage’s financial and legal connections, especially when children are involved.

        The other reason I don’t buy the idea that the state’s interest in marriage is primarily procreation, particularly when it comes to the gay marriage issue, is that the state does many things not for any functional reason, but to appease the citizenry, to buy votes, to make people happy, etc. And the state is ultimately made up of individuals, so oftentimes politicians act in their own interests. Maybe they support gay marriage primarily because they know somebody who is gay, and they support it out of their compassion for gay people, not because gay marriage does or does not benefit the greater society.

        Looking at how the gay marriage argument has developed, it seems that the primary argument is now: Support for gay marriage is the right thing to do because it is just. Gay people should have the same rights as heterosexual people, they say. Sometimes gay marriage supporters will add that homosexual couples can raise kids just as well as heterosexual couples, but I’d still say more than 50% of the arguments I hear in support of gay marriage make no mention of children. People usually say it’s about personal liberty, that two consenting adults should be able to love who they want.

        If we accept the argument that the state’s interest in regulating marriage is the support of stable families for children, then I have to concede that the state would be interested in gay marriage, not only because gay couples can adopt, which helps take care of orphans in our country and around the world, but because some gay couples also resort to surrogate mothers, sometimes from women who are already married and have their own kids, so even though the child isn’t the natural offspring of two men or two women, the end result is still the creation of a child, placed in a loving home (that just happens to be gay).

        Finally, in case you get the wrong idea that I’m trying to attack you or destroy your ideas, I’m asking all of these questions because I think your post may have had the opposite effect, at least for me. Your post was written to explain why the state has NO interest in gay marriage. But because it seems to me that the state would still benefit from homosexual couples adopting or conceiving of children through surrogates, then if I accept your premise, then I have to follow it to it’s logical conclusion: the state DOES have an interest in gay marriage after all, since gay marriage contains within it the possibility of children and stable families, not through reproduction between spouses, but through the same alternative possibilities afforded to heterosexual couples.

        Tell me if I’ve followed your premise to an incorrect conclusion, please.

        • Its the use of birth control that is the sin because it is deliberate act that takes human sexuality as God designed it and separates the pleasurable acts from the procreative, so that one can have the pleasure of sex without the “consequences”. It is an explicit rejection of trust in God and a rejection of the creative gift God has bestowed upon humanity when he gave us the very first commandment to be fruitful and multiply. There is plenty of Christian (before the 1939 Lambeth Conference) and Catholic writing that give reasonable defense to this ancient Christian teaching.

          As for financial and legal relationships: yes, married couples are very intertwined financially and with various legal benefits, however, joint financial and legal contracts are hardly confined to married couples. Marriage, in the eyes of the state, is more than legal and financial venture, which is why it is a separate class of human relations from other business ventures where individuals pool resources and share legal protections in a corporation of 2 or more persons. There is a deeper meaning, even to the state. If there wasn’t, what again is the purpose of the state being involved in marriage?

          You’re right, though, when you talk about all of the things that the state now has a need to regulate because different jurisdictions have legalized different things related to gay adoption, surrogate motherhood, etc., etc. Each of things, though, brings different moral questions that need to be answered, and they still need to be answered with the well-being of the child in mind. Is it in the best interest to remove a child who has already been placed in a the household of a gay couple? I don’t know. But is it something that we should continue doing while we await a thorough study of the effects of same-sex parenting? Should we continue to treat children like a commodity where some children is conceived with the foreknowledge and intent to deprive them of at least one of their natural parents?

          Yes, all of these things are of interest to the state, but that does not equate that the state should support same-sex “marriage”. The state does not need to legalize gay “marriage” to deal with these complex moral situations, but can deal with these situations through other legal avenues, while repairing her moral backbone when it comes to marriage.

          I also just want to state, and this isn’t a response to anything you’ve said, but if extending marriage to same-sex couples is some kind of act of justice that seeks to repair an inequality or creation of a second-class citizenry, their is a blindness to the fact, then, that there is still a second-class citizenry that is excluded from the financial benefits of marriage: single people. The campaign for gay “marriage” is all about “Don’t limit love”. But what about those of us who choose not to get married, or who are unable to find ourselves in a loving committed relationship? Why should the state treat us any differently, particularly in regards to financial benefits that married persons receive? If marriage truly is not about procreation, why should I be discriminated against by my government?

          I suppose that this is where they religious argument comes in, because in the end you are right Dennis, a secular argument to define marriage as God created it can only go so far. Even with natural law on the side of marriage, the atheist or nominally religious aren’t interested in natural law. So when the state deviates from the true definition of marriage, as created by God, it will end up, whether 10 years or 10,000 years later ceasing to recognize marriage. Our state sealed its fate, I believe, when the Comstock Laws were struck down, which prompted an increase acceptance of birth control in marriage, weakening it, leading to divorce, which now leads into same-sex marriage, which will, without a doubt, lead to polygamy, which will further move our society to a point where state marriage is simply about government benefits which inevitably will lead to the end of state marriage because in marriage the state prefers some citizens over others, and that isn’t fair, so eventually the benefits will have to apply to everyone no matter what their love is or isn’t.

          • You make a good point about the state creating two different classes of citizens with two different benefits: married people and single people. If the state was really interested in protecting children, why aren’t marriage benefits applied to couples that have children but are not legally married? I don’t know. That’s why I was curious if you developed this line of thinking yourself or if you can point to a specific political philosopher (contemporary or historical) that can explain why the state is involved in marriage in the first place.

            I’m guessing American law carries over from English law, and perhaps the state has had some sort of interest in marriage for a thousand years. But in Jesus time, for instance, did Jews have to get marriage licenses from the Roman government? Or did they just need the approval from their religious leaders, as it should be, to get married? I don’t know.

            I won’t deny that the state probably has an interest in marriages, not just for procreation, but marriages create other forms of societal stability as well. But perhaps you’re right in bringing up this secular line of argument. If we knew why the state was interested in marriage in the first place, and if somebody outlined those interests, perhaps that would provide guidance not only for the gay marriage issue, but for other issues related to marriage, I don’t know.

            My problem with secular arguments, though, is that, as your statist argument stands, it sounds like watered down Catholicism. Procreation is considered the primary purpose of marriage under Catholicism, but does that map perfectly onto the state’s interest?

            The bigger problem with secular arguments, though, is that once you abandon the religious foundation (or at the very least, set it aside or mask it) you don’t just lose the power of the religious principles. At the same time, you open the argument up to secular principles as well, which could very well contradict secular principles.

            To explain, all arguments are based on some sort of principles that we accept a priori, right? We have to rely on some principles so that our argument has a common ground. The Catholic principles include church tradition, church authority, Scripture, faith, etc. You use those principles to construct your argument.

            When you resort to secular arguments, you lose all those Catholic principles. Plus, you open the argument up to secular principles. For gay marriage, secular principles brought into the argument include justice (as we’ve discussed), equality (which as you’ve pointed out is a faux equality), hedonism (if it feels good for me then I should be allowed to it), and personal liberty. And while some of these principles sound good on the surface, the secular conception of justice might be very different from the Church’s conception of justice.

            Once secular principles are brought into the argument, then we get sidetracked from the real issue. Because to really address why gay marriage is wrong, you first have to address why the secular way of life is wrong. And it’s hard to address all of these things in short sound bytes.

          • I’ve been thinking about it, and I think you’re right about using the secular argument. At the same time, the battle cannot be won with religious reasoning, not in a secular world, not without having completely different conversations that bring people to the Gospel first. Would I be correct in saying that that is what you’re basically saying?

            And I suppose that this is what Pope Francis is saying when he says that abortion and gay marriage are not the most important topics of concern (I’m super paraphrasing here). Not that they are unimportant, but that first people need to be brought to know Christ.

            My pride hates to admit it, but Dennis, I think you won me over on the use of secular argument.

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