Saturday, August 21, 2004

Goldberg's Thoughtful Article on Gay Marriage

Proponents for gay marriage make some thoughtful arguments. But they fall to pieces on the questions like "why not marriage between 500 people or goats and people?"

"But nobody wants something like that?"

That's not the point of the question. The point of the question is that there is no logical basis for saying those things should be invalid if we follow your argumentation. We are not saying you support incest marriages or beastiality marriages.

what? are you saying you need a law that "only" allows marriage between a man and a woman, in order to stop people marrying animals?
...that must make sense: only in America!

then why not just have a law banning bestiality, and have no law about marriage?
You're right that the argument of "nobody wants something like that" is a dead one, but I personally don't know any liberals who are using that argument. Goldberg is either speaking to gay-marriage proponents who themselves are logically deficient, or he's building straw men.

At its most basic legal (as opposed to religious) level, marriage is a contract between two consenting adults, similar to a business contract. This is the right gay-marriage advocates are fighting for, marriage as a legal institution and the rights and protections afforded therein, which transcend religion (or the lack thereof), culture, socio-economic status, etc. Legal contracts can only be entered into by consenting adult humans, nullifying the beastiality argument made in the article, as well as the "opening the door to marriage between adults and minors" argument made by many gay-marriage opponents.

The incest argument made in the article is also inherently flawed, as if you followed that "logic" then heterosexual marriage shouldn't be allowed either b/c it would allow for marriage between brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, and mothers and sons. Indeed, they're all heterosexual marriages as first principles go, right? The fact is, we don't allow heterosexual marriages between parents and their children, or between siblings because of the profound biological, emotional, and psychological consequenses incurred. Why would we suddenly allow it for homosexuals? The focus isn't, after all, on "special" rights, it's on "equal" rights.

People who claim the "sanctity of marriage" argument on religious grounds are overlooking a host of facts. (Yes, I realize this argument was not brought up in the article, but it seems to be the main argument of the Bush Administration in its attempt to change the Constitution.) First, if "marriage" were confined to religion, atheists and agnostics would not be allowed to "marry" (but they are). Second, not all religions view marriage as a religious sacrament, some (such as Buddhism) view it as a purely civil contract, conducted by civil authorities and subject to the laws of the presiding goverment. Most of the religions opposed to gay marriage are Abrahamic religions, and among them there is disagreement over the issue. Catholics and Conservative and Orthodox Jews are obviously opposed. Conversely, Reformed and Reconstructionist Jews, many Quakers, and some other progressive Christian churches not only favor it, but in some cases perform their own religious ceremonies (obviously not recognized by law in most places). Again, the focus of gay-marriage proponents is not on marriage as a religious institution, but as a *legal* institution. Just as the Catholic Church does not officially recognize the legal divorces (and subsequent re-marriages) of Catholics, any church which did not want to recognize a legal same-sex marriage would not be required to do so. Asking them to would violate the separation of church and state.
Good thoughts. I would say that to many, marriage is a union before God. That's why civil unions may be a good way to go. But many homosexuals, even if they get the same exact thing from civil unions, want the word "marriage". It makes me think they are looking for society's moral blessing, which many don't want to give. I think that's the hang up. Marriage assumes society's general blessing.

I would only say, at this point, I hope legislatures and not courts will get to define society's building blocks.
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