Arguments in favor of same-sex marriageEdit
Over 1,100 rights and responsibilities are afforded to heterosexual couples through marriage. Simple rights such as hospital visitation and healthcare coverage are easily available to heterosexual couples through marriage, but unavailable for same-sex couples. Denying same-sex couples marriage essentially creates a group of second-class citizens without access to the same rights as heterosexual couples.
An interesting, though academic, issue is that of gender discrimination.
Addressing this overall controversy with the label of 'Gay Marriage' is actually a misnomer. A lesbian can legally marry a gay man, but two heterosexual women cannot legally marry each other.
When same-sex marriage is prohibited by law, a person is denied a right (or privilege, depending on semantics) based solely on their gender. Some people try to argue that is not the case, that a man has the same rights as a woman to marry the opposite sex. However, if a woman wants to marry another woman it is her gender that is the sole factor that restricts her rights.
This principle is not unlike those surrounding the interracial marriage issue that was only recently addressed in the US. The argument was made that a black person has the same rights as a white person to marry within their 'race' and that both blacks and whites were equally prohibited from marrying outside their 'race.'
Until 1967, many states had laws banning interracial marriage. In Loving v Virginia the US Supreme Court struck down all those laws. Today, you would be hard pressed to find a US citizen who thought interracial marriage should be illegal... in fact most people under 40 might be surprised to learn how recently it was still illegal.
The arguments against interracial marriage were not unlike those against same-sex marriage. Many quoted scripture that forbade it. Many felt it would undermine the institution of marriage. Many felt it would harm the children.
It all comes down to a simple point:
Denying a person the right to marry another consenting adult based solely on their gender is simply gender discrimination...
All of this inherently requires the state to produce a legal definition of the terms 'man' and 'woman.'
In most cases, this is not an issue, but transgendered/transsexual people cause a bit of a problem when it comes to same-sex marriage laws. For some examples:
Christie Lee and Jonathan Littleton were married for 6 1/2 years in Texas. Jonathon died as a result of malpractice and the doctor's lawyers got the court to throw out the case by anulling the marriage on the grounds that although Christie was a fully post-op, her chromosomes legally defined her as male. As an unintended consequence, many lesbian couples have gone to Texas to get legally married because although one of the couple was a post-op woman, she legally was male by virtue of her chromosomes. There was a similar ruling in Kansas with the case of J'Noel Gardiner.
In contrast, in Florida (where it is illegal for a homosexual to adopt children and same-sex marriage is illegal), Michael Kantaras was awarded custody of his children even though he still had female genitalia and female chromosomes. "Chromosomes are only one factor in the determination of sex and they do not overrule gender or self-identity which is the true test or identifying mark of sex," wrote Pasco County Judge Gerard O'Brien. "Michael has always, for a lifetime, had a self-identity as a male." This was a particularly noteworthy custody award because the children were born to his ex-wife and were in no way biologically his own.
So, if we are to pass laws saying that marriage must be betwen a 'man' and a 'woman' what criterion ultimately defines gender? Is it chromosomes? Is it anatomy? Is it personal identity?
Freedom and individual libertyEdit
The United States was founded on the principles of Freedom and Personal Liberty. Many heterosexuals also support same-sex marriage for this reason. While many heterosexuals who don't have a moral objection just don't care, these individuals consider it to be a symbol of larger civil liberties issues. One reason for this is opposition to governments eroding their rights and civil liberties to enforce moral values that they may or may not share, violating separation of church and state. Just as its often argued that allowing same-sex marriage is a slippery slope toward allowing more unconventional marriages, civil libertarians would argue that prohibiting them is a slippery slope toward further erosion of rights and, ultimately, an unconstitutional theocracy.
Distorted view of GLBT people and cultureEdit
GLBT persons who participate in pride parades and other festivities are often considered to be representative for the entire GLBT community. This makes GLBT people seem extravagant and careless, characteristics which are difficult to unite with a serious marriage. It must be noted, however, many of GLBT people are not eager to express their sexuality. They consider it to be a personal issue. Such people could establish a very robust marriage and be very good at child rearing. These people do not fit a distorted view of GLBT people and are often not considered in debates.
This type of discourse suggests individuals must fit into a standard of normalacy to have the freedom to marry, though this qualification does not currently apply to heterosexuals. It is not the ‘sameness’ of GLBT people that should entitle them to marry whomever they please, it is their citizenship and equality as human beings which can not and should not be negated through the participation in parades or celebration of identity and sexuality.
The fallacy of 'protecting' traditional marriageEdit
A common tactic used by those opposed to equal rights for GLBT citizens is to claim that they are 'protecting' traditional marriage. Allowing same-sex marriage would in no way limit existing, or future, heterosexual marriages. Heterosexual marriages would be as legal as they are today. Allowing gay marriage would simply mean that more citizens would have access to the rights and protections that are currently only provided to heterosexual couples. Characteristic of this defense is an inability or an unwillingness to differentiate matrimony, the Christian sacrament of marriage, from legal marriage -- although a legal marriage certificate is necessary to complete a marriage in the Church, a religious ceremony is not required to accompany a certificate. The rights of heterosexual couples who choose to marry in a strictly legal context -- outside of any religious ceremony -- are protected by state and federal laws, weakening the logic of prohibiting homosexual couples to marry in this way.
Interestingly, there are already many churches (including some mainstream denominations) that will perform the sacrament of marriage for a same-sex couple, and yet the state will not recognize those bonds of holy matrimony.
It seems that the whole 'protecting traditional marriage' argument is really wrapped up around two issues:
- Having Sex (God forbid gays get married, then they might be "allowed" to have sex)
- Bearing/Rearing children (Won't _somebody_ please think of the children!)
Frankly, there is a common perception that a couple will have more sex before marriage. Certainly the notion of only having sex within the confines of a marriage is quite anachronistic in most western cultures. There are plenty of single people having sex and plenty of married people having sex outside of their marital relationship.
There are plenty of children born out of wedlock, and there are plenty of married couples who have no plans or desire to have children. Likewise, there are many same-sex couples that are currently parenting children without the benefit of marriage.
It is a fallacy to equate marriage with sex or to equate marriage with children, but at least in the case of children wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that Heather would be better off if the two mommies she already has could be married?
It is also worth pointing out that the concept of "traditional" marriage, as used in these arguments, is far from being clear-cut. It is often argued that the institution of marriage has been around for millennia (hence "traditional" marriage), yet it is now in jeopardy because some liberals want to change it. Closer examination shows that although we use the same word, the institution of marriage has changed drastically over the centuries. For much of that time, marriages were about property, and the bride was merely one of the chattels. Bride as bribe, if you will. The womens' suffrage movement had profound impact on this institution, since changes to the role of women within "traditional" marriage meant changes that affected the majority of society. Similarly, the increased social freedoms that arose after the world wars, and the sexual revolution of the 1960s, are both phenomena that helped changed the role of women quite considerably. By extension, this changed what the phrase "traditional marriage" actually means. These changes affected the majority of the population and had a major impact on traditional marriage, and yet the institution survives. It is difficult to see how gay marriage, which by definition affects only a minority of the population, could pose a threat to traditional marriage.
Sexual orientation is not a choiceEdit
Human beings cannot choose to be either gay or straight. Numerous scientific studies have recently shown that sexual orientation is set as early as in the womb; there is evidence that biological birth order, prenatal hormones, and genetic predisposition influence sexual orientation. This evidence is also corroborated by studies of twins. The existence of bisexuality confuses some people into believing that all people have a choice, but this should not be universalized. Although we can choose whether to act on our feelings, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed. It is a fact of human psychology that, while a person can choose to act or not act on a desire (depending on competing desires), one cannot choose what one desires. If choice of desires were possible, then everyone could choose to desire what they already have, thereby fufilling those desires (although this still requires action to be based on the desire to see desires fufilled -- and so on, down the philosophical whirlpool). Given the social stigma and risks of violence of being gay even today, unless one assumes or believe that same-sex attraction is appealing on some level, it is difficult to rationalize why one would choose to be gay if it really were a choice.
Framing the argumentEdit
Many opponents of gay marriage like to describe the argument as a definitional one; they claim that the real issue is how we define the institution of marriage. This argument avoids the real question. As Jon Stewart put it in his debate with Bill Bennett, "I think it's a debate about whether you think gay people are part of the human condition or just a random fetish."
This section is for rebuttals to points made in Same-sex marriage/Con.
Counterpoint to religious imperativeEdit
Marriage is a legal issue. The state recognizes marriage as a legal partnership in which two individuals enter, and grants them certain rights and privileges that go beyond those which unmarried individuals have. For instance, in the case of the death of one partner in a marriage, even without a will the estate of the deceased is usually automatically willed to the living partner. The definition of Marriage as purely religious is incomplete. This denies the reality of entirely secular marriages performed by Justices of the Peace. It also denies the presence of the many legal benefits afforded to married couples which are denied to un-married ones. In some marriages, the only true religious involvement is the performance of a ceremony to indicate the marriage is recognized by a church. Marriage may have started as a purely religious agreement, but its current reality is much broader.
Furthermore, proper separation of church and state would preclude the aligning secular law with the moral code of a majority religion, or any religion for that matter, as enforcing the moral code of one religion violates individuals' rights to choose their own religion (or to choose none). In this way, the religious imperative is an unconstitutional argument for prohibition of same-sex marriage.
Counterpoint to slippery slope argumentEdit
Conservative opponents of homosexual $marriages$ often make what is known as the slippery slope argument. They argue that if we allow gay marriages, then that is simply the first step towards allowing polygamy, adult-child sex, bestiality, and other sorts of unconventional sexual behaviors. This argument is flawed in many ways.
First of all, same sex marriage is intrinsically different in nature from pedophilia, polygamy, and bestiality; polygamy is a choice and not a condition (and multiparty marriages would be challenging to write into law), adult-child sex involves non adults and is a form of abuse (considered to be non-consensual), and bestiality is not a union between two consenting parties. These distinctions can be, and regularly are, clearly made between what rights we ought to grant to two consenting (human) adults, and what rights we ought to grant to minors or animals; opening marriage to homosexuals does not expose the institution to a slippery slope any more than opening voting to women or racial minorities threatened democracy. In addition, the slippery slope argument could go the other way: if we let the government decide who we can marry based on sexual orientation, then what is to stop them from making income level or race qualifications for marriage?
Conversely, the slippery slope argument presents no top end of the slope: who's to say we haven't already started down the slope with, say, no-fault divorce (or even divorce at all)? Or even with allowing marriage that's uncondoned by the bride's or groom's family? Or allowing married couples to have sex for pleasure, not just procreation? All of these are uncontroversial now, but at one time could have been argued against using the same slippery slope argument.
Counterpoint to natural order argumentEdit
Evidence for homesexuality in other speciesEdit
Many species of animals, including mammals other than humans, have members that mate with members of their own sex.
Some species display homosexual mating for life, the most notable example of which are penguins. As high as 15% of male penguins mate for life with another male penguin. These "gay" couples "adopt" and raise the abandoned eggs of other penguins. It seems, then, that nature needs homosexuality.
The biological role of homosexualityEdit
Reproduction is not the sole biological role of sex in humans. If reproduction was the the only role of sex, we would only have sex 2 times in our life (on average). No other species of mammal spends as much time performing sex as humans, both in frequency and duration of the act. Why would nature have designed sex to be so inefficient? What is the advantage? The answer is that sex has other secondary roles, such as social bonding. Therefore, sex performed for non-reproductory purposes isn't any more "unnatural" than an elephant using its ears for cooling rather than hearing.
Natural does not equal moralEdit
What is "natural" and how is it even relevant? If by natural you mean that non-human animals do something, then there are many examples of homosexual behavior among animals. Since it occurs in the natural world, then that makes it "natural." Being "natural" or "unnatural" does not make something good or bad. For example, Hemlock and viruses are natural, kidney transplants and scissors are unnatural. Arguing if homosexuality is not “natural” does not seem to prove very much.
Attempts to make a moral argument based upon the natural order employ a logical fallacy: the naturalistic fallacy. Attempting to argue that something is morally correct because it's natural would also condone behaviors such as murder, rape, and theft.
Nature vs. choiceEdit
Can a "straight" person choose to be "gay?" No. They can choose to perform gay acts, but cannot intrincically change to be gay. The opposite is also true - gay people can "act" straight, but inside, they are still gay, as they were born.
What YOU can do to support equalityEdit
Talk to your coworkers, friends, family, neighbors, clergy, grocery clerk, etc about why equal marriage rights are important to you. Research shows that people who know an LGBT person are more likely to support LGBT rights.
Write to your local newspaper to talk about the issue. Call into your radio station.
Contact to your legislators to urge them to support equal rights. In order of effectiveness: make an appointment to meet with them, call, write a handwritten letter, email.
Volunteer your time, expertise, and resources to LGBT organizations fighting for equality. (These include Lambda Legal, HRC, etc.)
Sign petitions, join rallies and marches, host house parties.
Recruit 10 friends to take action to support equality.