At present there are profound disagreements on many issues within our nation. Marriage and the disagreement surrounding the subject of same-sex marriage transcend mere politics with both sides escalating the issue into a cultural civil war. As such it deserves our full attention.
Resolving disagreements requires that we start by finding areas of “commonality of agreement”.
Reasoning together is a step-by-step process, beginning with establishing a mutually agreeable premise and then logically developing, from that originating premise, a rationale that extends to a logical conclusion, consistent with the premise. In that spirit, I’ll start by attempting to establish a fair and rational examination of marriage, as it applies to the consideration of same-sex marriage.
There are two components to the institution of Marriage. The primary component for the couple is their personal relationship and familial relations. The secondary component for the couple is the social aspect.
Society places the social aspect of Marriage as the primary component, with the personal relationship between the couple as the secondary component. Society has legitimate societal concerns regarding children, inheritance, insurance, property, etc. These considerations provide society with the necessary rationale and justification in determining to whom we may and may not marry.
Traditionally, society has limited Marriage to a man and a woman, most commonly with the conditional limitation of banning marriage between first relations.
In the Western nations, we are considering broadening the “definition” of legal marriage. Gay and Lesbian groups, along with other sympathetic individuals and organizations are pressing in the courts for legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
There are numerous arguments for and against legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Most people are familiar with the common themes. Unfortunately, the arguments of each side either fail to address the main viewpoints of the other or require acceptance of a presumption, so the disagreement is unresolved.
A perfect illustration of this is religious objections against same-sex marriage. Religious based assertions that homosexuality is a choice can’t be convincingly demonstrated to non-believers.
Whether or not, GOD in fact, objects to SSM is really not the issue, that is, as it pertains to the disagreement. Religion-based premises have relevance only to those who accept the premise that a God exists and, in fact, has made known the truth of the issue. Since by definition promulgators of same-sex marriage do not accept the traditional religious premise (the basis from which the logic extends), for them, the argument is intellectually bankrupt.
Without acceptance of premise, logic developed from any premise is sequential nonsense to the skeptical party. The one great failure of logic is, its inability to examine the originating premise from which it extends.
Premises are assumptions, generally considered self-evident, about things for which, we have no outside proof. This is the reason why arguments based in logic can fail to persuade, for without agreement as to premise, the supporting rationale will be non-persuasive.
Facts are demonstrably true whether we believe it or not. Gravity for instance, needs no logical defense, it simply exists beyond dispute. Until God demonstrates his existence and will beyond dispute, significant numbers of people will reject religiously based premises.
Under a legal system such as ours, laws governing behavior must have a basis in premises not directly related to religion. While frequently misquoted and misunderstood, the applicable constitutional phrase is: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion”. Basing lawsgrounded solely in religious belief is exactly what the constitution prohibits.
The Massachusetts Supreme court has recently ruled that laws banning same-sex marriage violate the constitution. That ruling cited the equal protection clause of the US Constitution as the basis for their finding. It is obvious that laws banning same-sex marriage preclude homosexuals from participating fully in social life and, relegate them to second-class status.
This is a powerful argument, reminiscent of the civil rights struggle and worthy of examination. Our country’s history regarding slavery, treatment of Native Americans, minorities and women’s’ rights, compel us to give this argument, due consideration.
It is a self-evident truth that banning homosexuals from marriage bars them from full social participation and does in fact relegate them to second-class status. Acknowledging this is simply recognition of reality, not necessarily agreement that this should not be, as there are legitimate and rational reasons for some groups being relegated to the category of second-class citizenship. So, the issue is whether same-sex marriage properly falls within that category. If it does, then discrimination itself is not a relevant objection to that status.
Richard J. Rosendall writing in Salon stated: “the problem for gays is not in the difference itself but in the social stigma and legal discrimination directed at the difference”.
Here is the heart of the issue for the homosexual community and its advocates. Homosexuals seek acceptance by society; that homosexuality is just as valid as heterosexuality, this is in fact, ‘the’ goal. The legal right to marriage is seen as the means to that larger acceptance. There’s no denying the social stigma and yes, denying SSM is legalized discrimination.
That however does NOT end the argument because this is not the issue, for those opposed to SSM. Limiting marriage is seen as logically necessary and therefore legally valid.
There are two categories of discrimination that are constitutionally accepted as proper and thus fair by everyone. These categories consist of choice and circumstance.
The prime example of choice is criminality; society justly holds that anti-social behavior entails consequences. In the case of the most serious, felony behavior and conviction, the societal offense is considered to be ‘prima facie’ evidence of the offender’s unfitness for full citizenship and, that therefore their citizenship is forfeit, by their own actions, resulting in the imposition of second-class citizenship.
Homosexuality however, has not been demonstrably shown to be a choice.
In circumstance, we have a condition that applies to members of that group, while choice is not a factor. One example of the category of circumstance, in legalized discrimination, is legal immigrants who are not naturalized citizens. Lacking the benefits of citizenship automatically relegates them to second-class status. Yet everyone agrees this is fair and as there is no moral condemnation of legal immigrants, their second-class status is not based in prejudice. In point of fact, the value of immigrants to the vitality of the nation is widely acknowledged.
Other examples of circumstance are children, the profoundly retarded and people committed to mental institutions. In none of these groups is choice even an option but all of these groups have their “freedom” restricted to some degree, resulting in defacto discrimination and yet, everyone acknowledges the wisdom in doing so.
In marriage, it is the category of circumstance wherein homosexuality and SSM reside.
This is so for two reasons of paramount importance to society. Profound societal importance is of course a necessity whenever society contemplates any form of legalized discrimination. In order for groups whose sexual orientation is outside the “statistical norm” to be legitimately precluded from full participation within a society in which laws are promulgated and based upon non-religious rationale’s, compelling, rational reasons outside of religious belief must be convincingly elucidated.
Again, whatever one may believe is not the issue; only what one can demonstrate to be true, regardless of whether belief is shared or not. As ‘facts’ are true, regardless of what we believe and laws must be based, as much as is possible, upon fact. Especially when laws so fundamentally affect the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
Gays and Lesbians after all are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters; if we deny them full participation, we owe them an honest and fully thought out rationale for the laws we enact.
Legalizing same-sex marriage necessitates significant consequences for society that have received little examination. There are two aspects to these societal consequences that those considering this issue must reflect upon.
What is in the best interest of children, which is society’s primary interest and, what is the moral basis for marriage laws?
What is in the best interest of the child?
Society long ago came to the conclusion that children ideally do best growing up in a home where Mom and Dad love each other, combine love and guidance to their children in equal measure, and provide loving connections to an extended family.
The current ‘norm’ in present day America of single parent families and divorced, ‘blended’ families is not disproof of the ideal, as the difficulty in achieving the ideal is simply a measurement of our societal dysfunction, it is evidence of how greatly we have strayed from a healthy lifestyle for children to emulate. Advocating profound social change without full consideration of the proposed changes’ logical consequences to society is to invite further potential disruption to society’s very foundational fabric.
Recent surveys suggest that approx. 4 % of the population is homosexually oriented. Therefore, since 96% of children are heterosexual, it’s fair to ask; where is the parental role model for the missing sex in a same-sex household? To claim that other adults of the appropriate sex will automatically fill in as role models is wishful thinking at best and, avoids the issue of the psychological importance to children in bonding with parental role models of both sexes.
Statistics confirm that high achieving males most often have a strong parent-child bond with their mothers. Conversely, high achieving women show a corresponding bond with their fathers.
The benefits to society in encouraging familial parent-child arrangements producing statistically high numbers of psychologically healthy children are self-evident.
No one doubts the problematic outcome of a child growing up in a heterosexual household where one parent is absent. How can not bonding on a parental level with a member of the opposite or same sex, be any less harmful, to the child, in a parentally same-sex home?
Psychological studies have convincingly shown that in the crucial early bonding years, excluding a relationship with either sex is psychologically unhealthy. Full psychological integration requires parental bonding with both sexes, not just one. In a same-sex home, a single parental role-model environment is, by definition, the one in which children grow up. They are precluded from bonding with a parent of one sex or the other by the very nature of the parental SS arrangement.
Some may say that there is no difference between men and women as parental role models. This assumes that a woman can be a father and a man a mother. It also assumes that the biological differences are solely physical and that the sexual hard-wiring in the brain that takes place in the embryonic stage of human development has no intended function. To so state is to choose to ‘insist’ that the observed facts must fit the theory, regardless of logical contradiction.
This is known as having an agenda.
Denial of logically inescapable conclusions regarding the consequences for heterosexual children raised in same-sex homes doesn’t change reality; it only reinforces an inherently dysfunctional arrangement and seeks societal acceptance of the atypical, into a new norm.
Exactly as in single parent ‘families” where women of their own choice, have a child through the use of a sperm donor, consciously deciding that their desire for a child “trumps” their child’s “need” for a father.
Advocates of SSM have a moral obligation to consider these arguments as dispassionately and open-mindedly as possible. Because everyone’s ‘rights’ stop where the other person’s rights ‘begin’.
Anyone advocating a new, legal definition of marriage has an obligation to fully consider the predictable social repercussions. To not do so is to put personal desires ahead of others welfare and reveal oneself to be selfishly willing to harm others in order to implement an agenda of which one is unprepared to logically and honestly defend…
The Moral Basis for laws
The moral basis for law is the second consideration in legalizing same-sex marriage. As important as children are, this is of greater societal import because of the ramifications inherent to our social foundations. It’s the very “stuff” of life.
Webster’s defines “Moral-ity” as “principles or standards with respect to right or wrong in conduct”, that is, how we behave, rather than how we think or feel. As a society, we have up till now, based law upon a particular foundational structure, which by its very nature same-sex marriage requires society to abandon.
Lines of Latitude and Longitude
A brief exploration of a seemingly unrelated area, geographical Lines of Latitude and Longitude, serves quite well in illustrating the particular foundational structure, to which I allude.
Specifically, the primary difference between Geographical Lines of Latitude and Longitude. The difference between horizontal Lines of Latitude and vertical Lines of Longitude far exceeds the obvious fact that they run perpendicular to each other. It is in the basis for the establishment of said lines, wherein our interest lies.
Horizontal Latitudinal lines are based in established fact; they are definite, not arbitrary. The earth has a certain circumference and is tilted exactly 23° on its axis. It follows a highly specific and entirely predictable path around the sun. The equator’s placement is objectively definite. It can only exist upon one plane of reference and no other.
During the course of the year, the suns’ specific and measurably highest point, both to the north and south of the equator, establish the objective reference lines of the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. The earth can be evenly divided, using these 3 lines as reference points. These lines do not change, and they are factually based.
Vertical Lines of Longitude however, are just the opposite, being completely arbitrary. By that I mean that while any circle may be divided into 360 equal degrees, where they are placed is entirely subjective. The only reason they exist where they are placed, with Greenwich, England being 0°, is because the English were the first to discover how to establish, locate and use them when traveling over the earth’s oceans. Since they figured it out first, they felt entitled to pick the starting point for the longitudinal degrees and, the world concurred. It’s still 360 degrees around the circle with the same spacing as the latitudinal lines. But the exact placement of Longitudinal Lines is entirely a matter of arbitrary whim.
At this point some may ask, why does this matter and how does it apply to the issue of same-sex marriage?
Lines of Latitude are black and white with no room for doubt. Lines of Longitude, while valid, are an arbitrary, intellectual construct. So, if enough of us should agree to it, any place on earth could be 0 degrees Longitude.
In the past, when virtually everyone in society accepted that marriage could only be between a man and a woman, it was because they accepted that GOD had ordained it as so. This has been of great importance to society.
It is important to avoid the distraction of whether God has in fact ordained it or not, as this is irrelevant to the central value to society of believing it to be so. It was in the acceptance of the infallibility of God’s word, as it applies to marriage wherein its entire inherent value to societal cohesion lay.
Man’s laws and moral precepts can change, based upon the times, level of public awareness and the powers that be. But the presumption is that God knows what’s right and true without doubt or equivocation. Whether actually true or not, once society steps away from the certainty of belief we enter into the quicksand of arbitrary social whim and, social cohesion begins to be lost. Cohesion is lost because all of the public’s many and various points of view, inevitably replace the certainty of agreement. The Biblical story of the Tower of Babel is an appropriate analogy for the societal consequences.
Is this demonstratively true, or simple exaggeration and fear?
It is logical consequence. Basing marriage laws upon religious beliefs as to whom and who cannot marry has had the effect of establishing them in the certainty of a “higher power”, one beyond mankind’s whim. It’s not a particular religious belief that’s’ important here, or even religious belief itself, it’s group allegiance to a standard that is acknowledged as based in certainty, wherein society is in agreement as to its perception as fact, not whether it is actually a fact or not.
At this point, it’s fair to point out that regardless of certainty’s value to societal cohesion, a secular society cannot base plainly discriminatory laws upon a rationale grounded in religious beliefs.
Fortunately, it is not necessary to do so.
There are valid secular, non-religious reasons for society placing the line of demarcation in a position that limits societal recognition of marriage to a man and a woman.
Natural biological function is the objectively definite line of demarcation in marriage. As only a man and a woman can naturally produce a child.
The issue is not whether a couple wants or can even have a child. The importance of biological function as the determining factor in determining where society may place the line between whom may and may not marry is that biological function is the only non-religious, objectively definite position wherein society may place the dividing line.
Any other choice by a society, in legally defining marriage is arbitrary whim.
What’s wrong with moving that line from an objective standard to a subjective standard?
Inherent to subjectivity is its arbitrary nature. The logical consequence of arbitrariness is social instability. Social instability is implicit in moving the Line of Demarcation defining marriage, from the objectively defensible to a subjectively and arbitrarily chosen point of reference.
Here is why a subjectively chosen, arbitrary line of demarcation, predictably, necessarily and inevitably will lead to social instability:
Subjective, arbitrarily chosen lines are legally indefensible under the equal protection clause of the US Constitution.
This is true whether or not the equal protection clause is used to initially procure SSM.
If the Supreme Court does NOT eventually rule in favor of SSM but SSM is approved legislatively, it will merely delay the inevitable consequence; an arbitrary line of demarcation that cannot be held because it is rationally indefensible.
Moving the limitation of marriage from the biological, objectively determinable to solely between any two people; rather than between multiple partners is NOT demonstrably self-evident to people who do not share the premise of monogamy. And if the premise is not agreed to, then the supporting logic is once again, sequential nonsense to those who disagree and thus, societal momentum is given to the accusation that invalid discrimination is occurring.
Society, having abandoned the biologically objective line of demarcation in marriage in favor of the solely numerical and, necessarily arbitrary line of monogamous marriage between any two partners, will be unable to defend that line of demarcation because it depends upon a subjective definition of marriage and as subjectively determined, it cannot, in a secular society, be compulsorily determinative for all.
The discrimination and equal protection argument that supporters of SSM presently use, if held to be valid as the primary determining factor by the courts, necessitates the legal finding that any desired marriage arrangement, must be held as legally valid. For to NOT do so is plainly discriminatory under the equal protection clause of the US Constitution.
This assertion is logically and most importantly, demonstrably true.
The far-reaching and across-the-board nature of consequence to this level of social experimentation cannot be overstated.
Supporters of SSM who possess the intellectual courage and honesty to confront the societal consequences implicit to legalization of SSM, based upon the proposed legal arguments, must acknowledge the far-reaching consequences for society or they reveal themselves to be intellectually dishonest.
How far does the societal consequence extend?
If the equal protection rationale is accepted and same-sex marriage becomes judicially mandated, with the legal imprimatur of the state, all rational basis for denying that same benefit to any other desired marriage arrangement is immediately lost. And drawing a new line of demarcation of whom may or may not marry, with legal acceptance of same-sex marriage, while denying it to other groups becomes an intellectual position that is logically and, most importantly, legally indefensible.
On what legal basis would we deny marriage to consenting adults wishing to enter forms of group or plural marriage? Other than arbitrary whim, how could we rationally relegate them to second-class status, as we logically would be doing, if we didn’t extend legal acceptance?
Religious groups promoting polygamy, etc. would have every legal basis for claiming discrimination.
Indeed, why should it stop there? We already have the means to certain avoidance of pregnancy and birth. What basis then in logic, for denying consenting adults who wish to form legally recognized, incestuous unions of marriage?
After all, the only non-religious rational basis for banning incest between adults is because of a statistically small percentage of birth defects. But genetic deformation only shows up in progeny when incest becomes the generational norm. Today, we have the means to avoid even accidental conception, i.e. the morning after pill. Under those circumstances, banning incestuous marriage becomes self-evidently discriminatory.
How about group, plural incestuous marriage between adults?
What about transgender groups, bi-sexual, and sado-masochistic groups?
On what legal basis do we deny them “full participation”?
But wait, there’s more…
Groups in favor of adult/child sex already promote the view (NAMBLA)1 that sex between an adult and a child is only harmful, if the adult doesn’t actually love the child. In fact, the American Psychiatric Society has debated whether to officially remove pedophilia as a mental disorder.
Some will say that could never happen, but they would do well to reflect upon a recent introduction of state legislation in California to grant the right to vote to 14 year olds. If a fourteen year old is old enough to vote, why are they not old enough to decide whom they shall ‘sleep’ with?
Both the Catholic Church and psychologists agree that the usual age when we know right from wrong is 7 years of age. There have been calls to bring eight year-olds to trial in adult courts for heinous crimes. If an 8 year-old can be tried in an adult court, under adult laws and consequences, why are they not old enough to engage in adult behavior of their own choosing?
After all, implicit in holding an 8 yr-old responsible for heinous criminality is the presumption of their knowing choice…
Once homosexuals, based upon the equal protection clause, have the judicially imposed right to marriage, every other group outside the norm, will demand the same benefit because they will have the same legally compelling argument that they are being discriminated against and relegated to second-class status.
All of this is unlikely in our lifetime of course; there are limits to every generation’s willingness to accept change. Yet historically speaking, generational changes can happen in a remarkably short time. Every generation accepts a little more stretching of the limits, boundaries and taboos.
Demands for social change are inherent to adolescence and the primary method of adolescent individuation. Once marriage laws are based upon arbitrary whim, there will be no going back. There’s no putting the horse back in the barn once it starts to burn down. Pandora’s box will have been opened and whatever lies down that road will be our collective future.
Before we as a society overthrow the apple cart of tradition, we had best reflect upon whether it is wisdom or simple arrogance that leads this generation to think it knows better than countless prior generations.
Times change but human nature has not changed in all of recorded history. Had we a time machine, a Cro-Magnon cave man of 35,000 years ago, given a shave and a haircut and dressed in modern attire, would be indistinguishable in a crowd. A Cro-Magnon child, raised from birth in the modern world, would provide no basis for discerning its origin.
Everyone in our society accepts the value of freedom. Many however are less sanguine in accepting that Freedom carries with it great responsibility. Freedom without the “handmaidens” of responsibility and wisdom is immature excess. Freedom requires understanding that just because we can do something, doesn’t make it necessarily wise to do so.
Each generation helps to create the world that succeeding generations inherit. We have an obligation to consider all of the consequences of our actions. To do less, is to dishonor previous generations’ sacrifices in passing on to us civilization and that most precious of gifts, freedom.
For better or for ill, our children’s children will reap what we sow.
1.) North American Man Boy/Love Association: http://www.nambla.org/