The Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage, Part I

In a further effort to increase my leisure time (by reducing my chance of employment), presented here for your edification an argument against same-sex “marriage” in the form of an open letter to a young true believer.

Dear Young Person,

Same-sex “marriage” is winning the day, more so with the young who see it as a case of civil rights. It is about rights. Among these are the right to be left alone, the right to keep government from intruding into areas which it does not belong, the freedom to let people and not bureaucracy decide the form of society. The right to hold to tradition. The right to practice religion freely. And the fundamental God-given right to observe, celebrate, and hold the family-making bond between a man and a woman sacred.

I’m betting you haven’t considered your belief seriously. You might cherish it, are passionate about it, but it’s unlikely you have considered the idea philosophically, that instead you have absorbed your belief passively from the culture. To prove this, I’ll ask a series of questions which will help you see that your opponents have a point.

Ground rules first. In order to prove me wrong, you need to rebut each of the arguments which follow. Ignore just one and victory is mine. Crying “Homophobe!” or use a ruse like dismissing a point because I am a conservative or religious are both fallacies, the use of which concedes victory to me. Any use of a counter-argument which includes as a premise that which we seek to prove—such as saying “Same-sex ‘marriage’ is the law”, or “Marriage is a right”—is a fallacy which, etc. See also the warning on comments below.

Question 1

Why did you think it was government that got to define marriage? You might answer: in your experience, government gets to define everything. And that’s so, especially over the course of your brief lifetime. But government does so only because we the people have forgotten that it is We the People who are the government. The folks we shoot off to Washington every few years let this slip their minds, too. Our “representatives” no longer see themselves as our servants, but as our masters, so much so that a “Do this!”-”Yes, sir!” relationship is expected. This appears so commonplace to you that you don’t think to question it. It’s worse than that: you are downright suspicious of anybody who does question it. This proves that people are naturally conservative: they like holding on to what is and are, in large part, reluctant to change.

Since you’re a product of public schools, you won’t know that marriage was an institution before the State was, nor will you have been taught that the State itself is a modern creation. Thus it will come as a surprise that rights do not and cannot come from the State, which is a fictional entity; it is a tacit agreement among (some) of the living, more or less constantly renewed. But not always. States dissolve and fresh ones are created. If rights arise from the State, then when the State dissolves its rights expire with it. If the State is the sole source of rights, it may change them capriciously: might makes right (I’ll return to this in another Part). This topic can be expanded indefinitely, but I trust to your good sense to extrapolate from these beginnings the horror life can become if the State is sovereign in all.

In opposition to the State are natural rights, which are self-evident truths. We’re not talking traffic laws, but fundamental rights such as to life, liberty, and the pursuit (but not attainment) of happiness. These rights exist above the State and without the State; the State has no business meddling with these rights, lest it turn tyrannical. Marriage is one of these fundamental, self-evident rights.

There was marriage before the State, before any organized, formalized hierarchy existed; before there were such things as contracts or even paper to write them on. Before State and government there was biology. There was and is nothing more natural than a man and a woman coming together to produce and care for children, theirs or others which some misfortune might send their way. A man and woman came together to produce you. This man-woman pairing is called, in ancient words, dad and mom, husband and wife. Cultures historically created the ceremony of marriage to bless this union. The offspring taken together with the man and woman are called a family. That word is ancient and ubiquitous, too.

This man-woman mating is so natural, so common, and so obvious that only an academic can question it. It is from an academic (or from somebody having prolonged contact with one) where you probably learned to question it. But in questioning it, you acknowledge it. You know the naturalness is true because you are reading these words. I mean, there must be a you there reading, a you produced by a man-woman mating. Yes, there exists technology the good Baron von F. would be proud of which can produce babies in “test tubes,” but this produces few to no children, it is no match for nature, and even with these marvels biological “stuff” from a man and a woman is still required (a physical woman must also carry the baby to term). We call this scientific, biological equation “man plus woman equals childrn” marriage and foundation of a family.

Government takes marriage as a given and then builds rules around it. These rules only pertain to matters which are not marriage. Example: where does the Social Security check go when one of a married couple goes on to his or her reward? Well, to the spouse, says the voluminous paperwork. Yet Social Security, a fine government program (for the sake of argument), is not marriage. It is a way for the government to take money from one group of people and give it to another (keeping a cut for itself). Government decided that a spouse gets the dough, just as it may in the future decide to modify this rule so that somebody else besides a spouse collects, such as a “domestic partner” (you can always tell you’re on shaky philosophical ground when tortuous language like this is employed). But it is not Social Security which defines marriage—marriage was preexistent—it is instead marriage which decides how bureaucracies function. The same is true for any other example.

It is the State which fits itself around marriage, and not marriage which fits itself around the State. We have let government tinker around the edge of marriage, such as allowing it to demand blood tests, or to grant it the power to forbid marriage to anybody under (say) sixteen, or by indulging it in its insane addiction to paperwork. But these rules codified what everybody (or at least an overwhelming majority of adult citizens) already held and acknowledged to be true. You and others are now asking government to encroach further, to stick its nose were it doesn’t belong. You are hoping by its force and might, by fiat, that government will change what marriage means. But government can’t change the state of marriage fundamentally. Nobody can. The best it can do is to use the word incorrectly, and require that others do, too. We’ll see later that this still won’t (and can’t) alter real marriage.

Part II

————————————————————————–

Warning Tolerance is a hallmark of those supporting same-sex marriage. Never will you find proponents employing abuse, vituperation, appeals to emotion, or angry senseless shouting. They do not label their opponents enemies, nor accuse them of being hate-filled. They instead use calm, logical, well-reasoned argument; they understand rational and sincere people may disagree on certain points. I therefore expect supporters of traditional marriage to act similarly. Comments which do not accord with ladylike or gentlemanly behavior will be ruthlessly expurgated.

Comments

The Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage, Part I — 83 Comments

  1. Unconvinced so far.

    If the state chooses to give same homo sex couples access to a civil ceremony previously only available to hetero sex couples, then it can. Regardless of the origins of marriage, the state has co-opted the married state into laws it drafts and has even provided its own civil ceremony.

    I’d agree that there are almost certainly going to be some interesting court cases when it comes to a decision over who is the ‘wife’ as there’s a lot of divorce (and other) law that seems to offer differential rights to husband and wife. If nothing else, it will be entertaining.

    A civil ceremony only gives the couples rights under civil law. In the UK at least, the state recognises many religious ceremonies as being the equivalent of the civil ceremony so there’s no need to have both.

    Given some religions problems with homo sex, I’d expect and require that carrying those rights to marriage into religious services would be at the behest of the religions themselves.

    It’s not so much that I’m either in favour or against the idea, I just don’t see the problem. Yet.

    Looking forward to part II.

  2. Steve C,

    “If the state chooses to give same homo sex couples access to a civil ceremony previously only available to hetero sex couples, then it can. Regardless of the origins of marriage, the state has co-opted the married state into laws it drafts and has even provided its own civil ceremony.”

    Both remarks assume what you must prove, that the State (the small minority of people holding power at any one time) can abrogate natural rights. That it has done so in the past is of course does not make it right that it should do so again.

  3. Briggs:

    If marriage is a natural right, then is slavery a natural right?

    Through most of history, the husband owned his wife.

    She was chattel.

    How to you square that with the natural right of liberty – did women really have liberty until a few centuries ago?

    Is it a natural right to have multiple wives?

    That practice also existed before government or paper.

  4. Civil ceremonies are often not acceptable to non-heterosexuals, even when offered. My belief is this is because the goal is not to “have the same rights as married couples” but rather the make marriage over in their own image. In other words, they want to be declared moral and “right”, rather than wanting an equal legal position. It is an attempt to use civil law to redefine morality.

  5. Sheri:

    I agree with that.

    Same sex couples want their relationship to be held up as morally equivalent to an opposite sex couple.

    California is an example of this.

    However, there is still a Federal difference in that same sex civil unions cannot get the tax breaks that married filing jointly get.

    So if the definition of marriage is to be preserved, the Federal Government should allow for civil unions to get the same tax treatment as married filing jointly – or this differential treatment will be argued for an equal protection violation.

  6. “There was marriage before the State, before any organized, formalized hierarchy existed; before there were such things as contracts or even paper to write them on. Before State and government there was biology.”

    True as far as it goes.

    “This man-woman mating is so natural, so common, and so obvious that only an academic can question it.”

    Here is where your reasoning falls down. I presume that you actually mean one man – one woman by this verbiage, but if you go back as far as the first quote implies then one man – many women is the rule, not one man – one woman.

    The concept of monogamous marriage as the rule, rather than the exception for those too poor to support more than one wife is not that old (only around 2k years) in the greater scheme of human history.

  7. I believe that so called same sex marriage is simply an attempt to normalize the abnormal.

  8. RickA: I agree that for the civil union to be acceptable, it should grant all the legal aspects of marriage that exist now.

  9. If same sex can marry it opens the door to the possibility of doing away with the ban on close relations marrying. At least in the same sex case. That could ultimately lead to children receiving pension or SS benefits to which they would not be otherwise entitled after the death of the parent.

  10. States are big-tent, inclusive organizations. Because States control geographic territories with boundary costs that are greater than the mobility of their citizens, States must find a way to permit practices amongst their citizens that may be mutually incompatible.

    We have addressed this in the United States with both subdivided and federated geographic jurisdictions, decision-making by plurality vote, and allowing religions and other exclusive organizations to have private spaces for specialized activities.

    If one finds that a practice that once was prohibited is increasingly permitted in public spaces, across more jurisdictions, and is tolerated by a plurality of one’s fellow citizens, then one still has the opportunity to retreat to the private spaces allowed by religious, club, or other exclusive organizations.

    This retreat may seem like one is giving up a “right”, but unless these private spaces are intruded upon by the State, then it is not a prohibition, but merely an orderly change of space that one’s particular practice is exercised.

  11. Play fair.

    Your religion, or insistence that everyone adopt yours, provides the axiom “God-given” and your conservatism tries in vain to conserve the world as it was, or imagine it to be, at some particular place and time for a very specific group of people.

    Take away these ingredients and the remains are a hastily constructed collection of anti-goverment rants; and given the history of the peoples and times once dominated by The Church and their puppet governments your views are hard to reconcile.

    Civil marriage, like civil time, is best viewed as a cooperative function defined by social or legal norms and changes as societies and laws do. Nothing wrong with that.

  12. It is not actually the case that women were chattel through most of history, save in the limited sense that chattel slavery included women slaves. Wives, in particular, were not the property of their husbands.
    + + +
    A natural right is one proper to human nature. It is not simply a long-established custom. Consider William of Ockham’s Opus nonaginta dierum. A right is natural if one’s defense of it is seen as just. He mentions life, liberty, and property. Even an accused criminal is considered justified in defending his own life – against his enemies, against the prosecutor. That does not mean he succeeds in preserving his life, but it means that even his enemies do not think he was wrong to defend himself.

    Slavery thus cannot be a natural right because the right inheres in man by nature, and that applies to the slave as much as to the slaveholder. And one’s defense of liberty is again seen as just. I can have a right, but I cannot have a right over you.

    For the same reason, there is no right to multiple wives, since this would be A holding a right over others, viz., wives B, C, D, etc. It may be a custom or a practice, but it is not a right.
    + + +

    The State has no business sticking its nose in the bedroom — and in this regard it is useful to review those entries in the Code of Khamurapi that pertain to marriage: they apply only to questions of joint liability for crimes and debts and to the raising of and provision for children. The State’s interest runs that far. Since heterosexual relations have the potential to produce children, the King wants some assurance that children will not be scattered willy nilly about his kingdom to become a burden on the royal purse. Civil marriage is thus a contract between the couple and the State that the couple will raise any children that might result from their natural activities. Plato’s The Laws (Book IV, I think) is instructive in this regard.

    For the same reason, the State has no abiding interest in regulating any other sort of interpersonal relation.
    + + +

    Married couples generally must pay a greater tax than the two individuals. This is because their income is regarded as joint, and the sum will usually place them in a higher tax bracket than if they had filed separately.

  13. 1. A state can no more redefine marriage to mean something other than a union of man and woman than it can redefine credit to mean printed money, so to speak. The state is not that powerful. Certainly, the state can change its legal definition, but that does not change the fact.

    2. The state has no business with regard to marriage. State-recognized marriage is fairly recent in the US. Venerated Founding Father, George Washington, never possessed a marriage license, and no one, to my knowledge, at the time considered him immoral due to his non-state-sanctioned marriage. In addition, if I have my information correct, the Roman Catholic Church still does not require a state license in order for a couple to claim they are married within the church.

    3. Marriage is not a specific right, for each right confers an obligation — i.e. I am obligated to respect your claim of marriage. Marriage is, though, an application of the right to liberty — i.e. I am obligated to respect your right to liberty by not aggressing against you.

  14. I am pretty certain that the logic of natural rights cannot be used to justify the traditional notion of marriage – though it is a view I hold to. The problem of usurping the traditional notion of marriage is more an issue of the tyranny of the minority. It is not logic that supports the traditional view but an overwhelming majority of individuals whose values indicate that the traditional marriage is good and non-traditional is not so good for society in the long run. Our representatives, driven be their own value system, simplistic utopianism or political expediency, will likely choose to defy the majority and legitimate same sex marriage. If a utopian and delusional mayor of NY can ban large sodas for the greater good regardless of the attitudes of the vast majority of his constituents, nobody can be surprised when a similar utopianism and in your face attitude produces a specious equivalency of traditional unions and same sex unions. It is best to recall that in the dictatorship of the proletariat, the dictatorship is made up of actual flawed human beings who will never be forced to own up to the consequences of their decisions.

  15. In my opinion the problem with same sex marriage is over-blown (no pun intended). If there is a threat to the institution of marriage, it heterosexual people not getting married, and married people not staying married. Homosexuals as a group are not even a threat to polluting society’s gene pool, generally speaking.

    This is not a intellectual exercise. My point is that we should leave people alone, and let them live their lives. The legalities will work themselves out, and everybody needs to get over it.

  16. YOS:
    Neither persuasive nor compelling wrt matrimony. Monogamy on balance makes sense in most societies and at most times. Clearly there are situations where on balance it makes less sense.
    I think the issue is more one of how a government should consider the beliefs and preferences of the majority of individuals in a society that does not limit the ability of others to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Declaring marriage between a man and woman does not prevent other types of contracts being allowed that give the same civil rights to members of the same sex, e.g., civil unions. I see no reason for depriving the majority of what they consider to be a distinctive contract.

  17. Mr Briggs,

    “I’m betting you haven’t considered your belief seriously.”

    First, I find this very presumptuous from you.

    “Why did you think it was government that got to define marriage?”

    1-) What better institution could define marriage? We can agree that the government is from the people, by the people, for the people. They are the representatives of the people. Why do you think that not a majority of people agree with the government and want marriage, at least civil marriage, to be defined this way? Yet, rights (life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness) are not a matter of majority of people but of individual. Each individual has the same rights. If rights were left to majority, we could go back to think that people can be enslaved. You have the right to disagree with the government. You can always run for office to get elected and change the laws

    Why should your definition be better than anyone else definition?

    On the one hand, that government define marriage as between to adult, instead of a woman and a man does not affect your inalienable fundamental rights (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness). It doesn’t affect your life, your home. It doesn’t affect the right of a man to marry a woman, to have a family and to pursue happiness.

    On the other hand, your definition does alienate the fundamental rights of same sex couple who love each other. How many gay men were beaten to death by people who thought they were lesser being for being gay? How many gays have beaten men who didn’t agree with them? Gays and lesbian do not threatened heterosexual way of life, but many gays have seen their right to life taken away. The same goes for liberty and pursuit of happiness were your rights are not threatened but their right are taken away. Why should your right be more important than anyone else’s right?
    2-“This proves that people are naturally conservative: they like holding on to what is and are, in large part, reluctant to change.”

    Yes, everyone is conservative about something and I am downright suspicious of people who try to take away any other human being rights away. And no, I don’t consider, a fetus a human being, or a person. Abortion is not murder and the Supreme Courts of different developed countries agree with me.
    “Since you’re a product of public schools, you won’t know that marriage was an institution before the State was, not nor will you have been taught that the State itself is a modern creation.”

    History began about 6,000 years ago, although human structure as hold as 12,000 years old have been found in Turkey. The oldest known civilizations were found in Mesopotamia and we have some data about the state and society. Marriage and State are as hold as each other. But one can make the argument that the state had to exist to create marriage and authorized marriage, if there is no state there can be no marriage. There can be no one to recognize that two people are married. Even if originally marriage meant that a man owned the woman.

    Anytime there is group of people united together to decide how to organized life there is a State. So the State is a creation as old as or even older than marriage. If the State dissolves, the couple may stay together but there no more State that recognizes the marriage. For example, a black man and a white woman could have been married in Canada and their marriage would have been unlawful in some States in the US. Alabama overturned their interracial marriage as late as the year 2000.

    “In opposition to the State are natural rights, which are self-evident truths. We’re not talking traffic laws, but fundamental rights such as to life, liberty, and the pursuit (but not attainment) of happiness. These rights exist above the State and without the State; the State has no business meddling with these rights, lest it turn tyrannical. Marriage is one of these fundamental, self-evident rights.”

    If these fundamentals rights existed without the State, we would not need any law to guarantee or protect them. These rights exist because of the State. Where is the right to life of a murdered victim? Where is the right of liberty of a slave? Where is the right to pursue happiness for a slave? Absolute freedom of one person doesn’t/shouldn’t give that person the right to kill someone else (and no abortion is not murder).
    The natural law that exists above the State, or more when there is no States, is the law of the fittest/strongest. Without States, there is no right to life, no right to liberty. There is a reason why the first mention of these rights was in the “Declaration of Independence”. This is when they were created. As much as someone would like to live without at State he will always find one. And the current State found in the develop world are the best and most human ever developed.

    Yes, before marriage and before but State there was biology. And yes, it takes a man and a woman to make a baby, but gays are not a new phenomenon. They have been there for a very long time (Alexander the Great was bisexual) and the mediaeval period was more open toward them then we are. There was no name for it before psychiatry created it in the 1800s, just like there was no pedophilia either. I mean there were pedophile, these families were somewhat marginalized but they were free to molest their child as they wanted. Would you want us to go back to that time?

    Woman and man mating is natural but gay mating is probably just as old. Yet gay mating didn’t prevent the growth of human being on the planet. By the way, gays don’t reproduce by themselves so they have to come from heterosexual couples.

    “Government takes marriage as a given and then builds rules around it.”

    Arranged marriages are still the law of the land in many third world countries were marriage between adult and 12 year olds are legalized. Are they natural? Should we allow it in develop countries? Should we legalize pedophilia? Of course, the answer is no and such practice are barbaric, but were consider natural for a very long time. Gay marriage is different since it is between 2 consenting adult. And civil marriage is to give the same right to same sex partners in fiscal, inheritance and hospital decision right.

    “It is the State which fits itself around marriage, and not marriage which fits itself around the State”

    There is no marriage without the State. Even if men and women get married they still have children outside the link of marriage. Does a married man with female A also form a family with female B when he get her pregnant but doesn’t live with her or doesn’t recognize the child as his?

    Overall your argument can be showed to be false or wrong.

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  19. “What better institution could define marriage?” How about those individuals who want to marry each other? They should define how they want to live together, not some government employee. The gouvernment can still draft up the default or minimum rights and obligations in case there is no contract between two people for matters concerning the responsibility towards third parties, such as children or relaives.

  20. “Arranged marriages are still the law of the land in many third world countries were marriage between adult and 12 year olds are legalized.”
    Well, arranged marriages and marriages with underage persons are legal in some countries. So you admit that the government sanctioned marriage is not protecing from (what you consider) abuses. So you have no argument regarding question 1.

    Every marriage is arranged by the two individuels who want to get married. What’s wrong with that, if they are consenting? But nobody may be forced into a relationship against their will. Whether you call that marriage or not makes no difference.

    Underage youth may very well live together with adults. We call that a familiy. But adults may not have a sexual relationship with underage persons. Whether they are “married” or not makes no difference.

  21. “Why should your definition be better than anyone else definition?”
    Because we are individuals with individual views and needs. Why do you want to override individualism with a standardized contract? What is to gain?

  22. “I believe that so called same sex marriage is simply an attempt to normalize the abnormal.”
    Define what’s normal! There is nothing to normalize. A marriage is a contract between 2 consenting adults. What’s abnormal or normal about that?

  23. “If marriage is a natural right, then is slavery a natural right?”
    A marriage is a contract between 2 consenting adults. Does slavery fit into that model?

  24. Dr. Briggs:

    It is unclear from your essay if any of your rights are being infringed upon. If there is no infringement, then you do not have cause to complain.

    Your natural right to marry is not being infringed. At best, your grievance is that an artificial right is being created by the state that mimics the right to traditional marriage.

    The state is not taking any right from you, only extending a right to others.

    The state is entitled to create artificial rights, i.e., those that proceed from the state (such as the right to vote), and require that you as a citizen recognize those rights.

    V/r.

  25. I also find this rant slightly useless. You attempt to derive civil rights from the so-called “god-given” natural rights. But I do not recognize those (of course), I see rights as a matter of a social conversation of how we all want the society to be.

    As it stands, I do not find the laws which impede same-sex couples from visiting their partners in the hospitals fair. And examples as those abound, they strike me as unfair and heartless. Most people who want same-sex marriages to be acknowledged by the state want more recognition from the wider society that their lives are the way they are, without being looked at funny, nor having to deal with these kinds of shenanigans.

    I see no challenges from the author to these basic, fundamental and heartwarming problems. I only see a smug voice shouting this ain’ no natural. Tsc.Tsc.

  26. Assume a natural right is an extension of biology. The only way to make new humans is by having a man and a woman making them. There is no question about that.

    Making new humans is the easy part, raising them is hard. So having a succesful way of raising new humans to adulthood is very important. Marriage is a method used by humans. That very method is working very well indeed, and one can argue that the method is so succesful, that humans have obtained a builtin desire to marry. Even when it is clear that the marriage cannot produce new humans.

    But that is not the point. Such a marriage can still raise children, amd that is why humans marry.

  27. “So having a succesful way of raising new humans to adulthood is very important. Marriage is a method used by humans.”
    For as long as humanity exists, parents have raised children. Our ancestors didn’t need marriage to do so; they didn’t even have such an institution that we call marriage. Marriage is a contract, nothing else.

  28. @benpal

    As long as humanity exists, humans have *tried* raising children. The ones that succeeded were more often than not married.

    Being married meant, and still means, promising to do certain very specific actions, and promising not to do certain other very specific actions. That is a contract.

    Making those promises in front of the group, so everybody knew that these promises were made, makes it an institution.

  29. @benpal: Wow. The ‘institution’ has existed since that day when a man realized that he loved his woman (and their children), that she was as human as he is, and that treating her like an animal was ‘wrong’.
    Today there is a word for that ‘institution’: “marriage”.

    For someone who is still an animal, and-or who doesn’t love, and-or has no sense of right and wrong, ‘marriage’ doesn’t matter. (This reads as insulting, but it is nonetheless true. Exact same thing as someone vacu-sucking and chopping-up a third trimester baby: and saying that doing such things to a presto-’science!’-renamed-’fetus’ makes it all alright: an animal, and-or that does not love, and-or has no sense of right-wrong.)

    Marriage is not really a contract. What you have today are legal-political systems which in order to try and manage ‘marriage’, force a legal contract to be entered into. That application of might (by Govt) does not define right.

    Perhaps the root-problem is the failure to acknowledge that a large portion of the population are loveless animals who do not care about right-and-wrong.

  30. If you accept that the state has the authority to define a reception hall to be neutral on marriage, then I can’t see your argument of that the state doesn’t have the authority to define marriage as a man and woman. That’s the consistency that your statist and materialist ideologies lead to. Thankfully, I’m under no obligation toward that as I refused to grant the state any such authority. I merely demand the state uphold the traditions that predate it and form its foundations.

  31. Gays and lesbians would probably agree with you that mating is natural. It seems that same-sex mating behavior is deemed unnatural to you; therefore you don’t want to share the word “marriage” with homosexual couples, nor believe that they should have equal rights under the law. A bit juvenile, imo.

    Here is an example of rational arguments that would possibly convince me. “The loss of a life” is much more severe than “the loss of a woman’s autonomy for 9 month,” therefore abortion should not be allowed. (Though having a child is not just 9-month pregnancy, and not all abortions are due to inconvenience.)

    So how about some (non-religious arguments) reasons that outweigh the importance of equal legal rights for same-sex couples? Why would sharing the word “marriage” with same-sex couples would hurt anyone?

  32. The point of government sanctioning marriage is to provide a stable environment for children, and to ensure they grow up reasonably healthy, reasonably well educated, and have the moral foundation to take over and keep the country running. Since homosexual marriages cannot produce children by definition, government shouldn’t care one way or the other if a homosexual couple shacks up- any more that it should care whether you vacation at the beach or in the mountains. The ancient Athenians were AWARE of this foundation- that/s why even those who practiced homosexuality like Alcibiades, Aristotle and Plato did not advocate homosexual “marriage”.

    By making “homosexual marriage” rather than how to raise children an issue, serious problems such as rising illegitimacy ,rising poverty, and poorer scholastic performance in children, are ignored in pursuit of the irrelevant and trivial issue of “homosexual marriage”.

  33. “The point of government sanctioning marriage is to provide a stable environment for children, and to ensure they grow up reasonably healthy, reasonably well educated, and have the moral foundation to take over and keep the country running.”

    Sorry, but this is incorrect. The licensing of marriages by the state did not exist in the US prior to mid 19th century. Prior to this all US states accepted common law marriages. All a common law marriage requires is for the parties to live together as husband and wife. The licensing of marriages by US states and the outlawing of common law marriages in most states (there are still a couple of states that recognize common law marriages) got started as a way to block inter-racial marriages.

  34. Briggs wrote,
    To prove this, I’ll ask a series of questions which will help you see that your opponents have a point.
    [ ... ]
    Ground rules first. In order to prove me wrong, you need to rebut each of the arguments which follow. Ignore just one and victory is mine.
    [ ... ]
    Question 1
    Why did you think it was government that got to define marriage?

    You don’t state anywhere your premise. What is “this” which you claim to prove?
    The general structure of an argument in a natural language is that of premises (typically in the form of propositions, statements or sentences) in support of a claim: the conclusion.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument

    In any case, my response to your question is, “I do not now nor have I ever thought that it was government that got to define marriage.”

    I look forward to reading your next question.

  35. @Sander van der Wal:
    “Being married meant, and still means, promising to do certain very specific actions, and promising not to do certain other very specific actions. That is a contract.”
    Many divorcees promised something at a given time, and they have later decided to separate their lives, for whatever reason.

    “Making those promises in front of the group, so everybody knew that these promises were made, makes it an institution.”
    When we married, we made not promises in front of a group and I don’t know what promises other people make. Neither I nor the State are in charge of verifying if the promises of other people are fulfilled (after some 20 years?)
    The promises, if any, are between two individuals and they are private and personal.

    The quesrion was: what business has the State in intervening in a contract between 2 individuals.

  36. @ Alan D McIntire “The point of government sanctioning marriage is to provide a stable environment for children, and to ensure they grow up reasonably healthy, reasonably well educated, and have the moral foundation to take over and keep the country running.”
    Have you ever read any such wording in your marriage certificate? Is there a law that defines and mandates “moral foundation”? By the way, this would also apply to couples which have children without being married. Is marriage mandatory as soon as you have children?

  37. “There was and is nothing more natural than a man and a woman coming together to produce and care for children, theirs or others which some misfortune might send their way.”

    Your use of male+female being “natural” to imply that anything else is unnatural is patently false if you take 15 minutes to understand nature. Thus your use of what is “natural” — insofar as your ignorance permits — to define marriage because man+woman is natural is false and so your argument is entirely null and void because it relies on this point. For being so verbose on what “marriage” means it kind of amazes me that you accept your own meaning of “natural” so readily and, well, incorrectly.

  38. “Warning Tolerance is a hallmark of….”

    Folly and FAIL.

    All that was necessary for the Triumph of Evil was for Good to be Polite.

    Did you notice that however polite they might be, they will not relent until they get their way? And never care or acknowledge the harm they do? Or consider deviating from course one degree?

    The only thing necessary for the Triumph of Evil was good insisting on being polite. There is no point to words Sir if the other party is using them as mere strategem. There was never any point to any of the endless conversations. Your precious politeness and the Siren Song of Reason lulled us all onto the rocks.

    If you’re wondering what went wrong in America, here is the History of the last 50 years: “People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone. ”

    That is the FBI.gov – warning on Seniors being scammed. Every dysfunction of the last few decades can be laid to the above – all that was necessary for the Triumph of Evil was for Good to be Polite.

  39. @ ch: “The ‘institution’ has existed since that day when a man realized that he loved his woman (and their children), that she was as human as he is, and that treating her like an animal was ‘wrong’.”
    Don’t tell me that you need a state-issued contract to tell you that women are human beings. If you didn’t know it, how would government employees know it? Are they superhumans?

  40. @Colin: ‘“There was and is nothing more natural than a man and a woman coming together to produce and care for children, theirs or others which some misfortune might send their way.”

    Your use of male+female being “natural” to imply that anything else is unnatural is patently false if you take 15 minutes to understand nature.’

    Take 15 seconds and explain how 2 males or 2 females could produce children. Briggs didn’t imply that LIVING together is unnatural for same-sex couples, but procreating would only be possible by unnatural means.

  41. “Bluebirds like to be together, eagles hang out with eagles, sparrows stick with sparrows, buzzards go with buzzards. They’re all birds, but they go with their own.” Therefore interracial marriages were contrary to God’s will and unnatural. This is common sense! /sar./

  42. It’s a funny thing about self-evident truths. Only after they are described in detail and understood do they become self-evident. If they are so self evident, is it just that 99% of people aren’t intelligent enough to identify them? Or are they simply ignoring them?

  43. Nate,

    I wager that you hold several self evident truths. One: you exist. Two: you have a right to life. Need I continue?

    tom,

    Your entry is a non sequitur, and a poor one.

    VXXC,

    My dear, I shouldn’t have to tell you my warning, while real, is satire.

    Colin,

    Your use of “ignorance” and the mere statement I am wrong about my (quite correct) use of “natural” is not an argument. Did you think it was?

    Speed,

    I thought the question clear: “Why did you think it was government that got to define marriage?” Why did you?

    JH,

    Your labeling my argument “juvenile” is itself not an argument and is…but I trust I needn’t go on? Your “why sharing” question a good one, which is answered in another Part.

    Luis,

    You say you don’t recognize certain rights are granted by God. Very well. In what way are they derived?

    Eric,

    About why and how my (and your) rights are being infringed, please stick around.

  44. @Briggs – Does the recognition of a self-evident truth require that you extend it to others then? A psychopath will recognize their self-evident right to their own life, but cannot see any self-evident right to someone else’s life (and may even feel that it is self-evident that they should be able to whatever that would to anyone else).

    I guess my question is, is the right to life self-evident because we define it as self-evident? Or is there some level at which when > 50% of people recognize something as self-evident that it becomes so? Is it Ayn Rand’s rule of Identity?

    Looking back through history, it doesn’t seem that humans have extended these self-evident rights to others much at all. “I think therefore I am” is fine self-evidence for me, but not for my neighbor… how do I know he thinks?

  45. Nate,

    I trust you will use this line of reasoning if you ever find yourself under the knife of a psychopath. Report back to us its reception.

  46. Certainly gay relationships go against the natural design of humans…but…

    Has anybody ever heard of any gay asserting they voluntarily chose that orientation (or “lifestyle”) by choice? There are probably some, however that’s so rare as to be discounted. These people are that way for some reason, but conscious choice ain’t it.

    SO, what is accomplised by allowing vs. denying civil gay marraige?

    Allowing it lets people do openly what they’re doing anyway, so it changes nothing–except lets the government collect some taxes (e.g. the marraige penalty) and sets up contractual arragements for property distribution, which isn’t all bad.

    Denying it doesn’t stop anything really, just puts ongoing behavior into the background.

    And if you disagree with gay marraige on moral grounds, i.e. you are straight, what does someone else’s behavior–which will occur regardless–have to do with you? Has anyone ever heard of a truly straight person “turning gay” from such exposure — that seems to be a myth.

    From another slightly more to the point perspective, what mainstream religion in the USA (aside from fanatical Islam, which encourages jihad, murder of unbelivers, etc.) has as a legitimate tenet the formal imposition of its values on non-believers?

    That cannot be any form of Christianity — where Jesus was quite emphatic about any community rejecting His missionaries to have them ‘shake the dust from their feet and depart that place’…NOT…’go back and apply force of law to impose My values on those people.’

    His Father told Noah that never again would HE destroy everyone over the faults of some (the rainbow was a symbol of that promise); Sodom & Gomorrah were totally destroyed–after a few were allowed to leave–because all remaining were evil…but even there it was clear that the presence of a tiny minority of decent folk would have been enough to save them all.

    So, trying to argue that allowing this unnatural arrangement somehow corrupts the rest of society and thus puts it at risk is inconsistent with well-established criteria from On High.

    That is, you Christians out there thinking that such immoral behavior has to be formally stopped by the state to comport with Divine values such that those values must be imposed onto others is contrary to what the Founder intended and contrary to plenty of precedent on how that Divine Founder actually does His thing.

  47. At the most basic level, within the authority of the state, marriage is a contract between two people. The exercise of marriage law, humorously, has more to do with dissolving them than living within them.

    As much as I fail to understand the whole same-sex attraction thingy, I believe that any two adults in the country should have same contractual rights as any other two adults.

  48. Briggs, I’ve found your premise. “The young person hasn’t seriously considered his/her belief in same sex marriage.”

    Your supporting argument is the question, “Why did you think it was government that got to define marriage?”

    As I wrote above, the answer, “I did not and do not think it was/is government that got/gets to define marriage.” stops the discussion. Score … Young Person one, Briggs zero.

    I await your next question.

  49. @benpal

    “Take 15 seconds and explain how 2 males or 2 females could produce children.”

    Clearly 2 males could not produce children and 2 females could not do so with out outside help.

    However one male and 2 females or even 2 males AND 2 females could do so quite easily.

  50. @HalflifeToolmaker: “I believe that any two adults in the country should have same contractual rights as any other two adults.”
    Do you mean they have the right to enter into a contract? Yes they do.
    Or do you mean they are free to determine the subject and terms of a contract between them? Yes they do.
    That’s what Briggs postulates. And then he adds that this contract is none of the government’s business. Freely consenting adults …

  51. @benpal

    Contracts can be broken. Having a contract has never been a guarantee that the promises would be met.

    Consider marriages made by a State Church. If the Church is the State (has been popular in less Enlightened times) the State has an automatic right to meddle. Happens a lot in States with Catholic majorities too.

  52. Matt and benpal,

    My secretary who is past child-bearing age got married last year. Her marriage would never produce any children. Man plus woman doesn’t always equal children. Scientific and biological facts. So Briggs’ argument basically boils down to “because I don’t like same-sex mating practice so I don’t want to share the word marriage. No legal rights either.”

  53. JH,

    Agreed with the additional caveat that many of those taking Briggs’ argument also try to claim a far greater history for their preferred definition of marriage than it truly has.

    (The MattS comment is also mine. A work/home difference.

  54. Declaring marriage between a man and woman does not prevent other types of contracts being allowed that give the same civil rights

    Marriage does not bestow civil rights. One may vote, own property, bring suit in court of law, etc. without being married.

    Civil marriage is a set of obligations which the State enforces on couples: that they will raise any children that may eventuate from their acts, that the husband will remain with the wife, etc.

    What better institution [than government] could define marriage? We can agree that the government is from the people, by the people, for the people.

    Tell that to Khamurapi. Or Ch’in Shi Huang-ti. Fact is, marriage is not an artifact “defined” by anyone. It is a natural thing evolved by Nature.

    your definition does alienate the fundamental rights of same sex couple who love each other.

    Nothing stops anyone from loving anyone else. A man may love his mother or his sister, but that does not imply a “right” to marry them.

    A marriage is a contract between 2 consenting adults.

    No, it’s a contract between the couple and the State that the couple will accept the burden of raising of any children they might produce. (Matrimony is another story.)

    You attempt to derive civil rights from the so-called “god-given” natural rights. But I do not recognize those (of course), I see rights as a matter of a social conversation of how we all want the society to be.

    So the Jews discovered in Germany. If there is a God, natural rights are “God-given.” If there is no God, natural rights simply arise from the natures of things. Either way, your recognition means no more than it would for Maxwell’s Laws. What “social conversations” set people’s rights in Babylon? In the Soviet Union? In Tamerlane’s Samarkand? In what manner can you say that the social conversation in the ante-bellum US South was any less legitimate than that in the Ancien Regime of France or the Fulani Jihad of Othman dan Fodio?

    Our ancestors … didn’t even have such an institution that we call marriage.

    cf. the Code of Khamurapi. Plato discusses it in The Laws.

    It seems that same-sex mating behavior is deemed unnatural to you

    Biologically, there is no such thing as “same-sex mating”.

    So how about some (non-religious arguments) reasons that outweigh the importance of equal legal rights for same-sex couples?

    Easy. The State really has no business regulating people’s sexual lives unless there is a compelling State interest.

    When we married, we made not promises in front of a group and I don’t know what promises other people make. Neither I nor the State are in charge of verifying if the promises of other people are fulfilled

    Public marriage for Friedehe arose in 12th cent. Europe, iirc. This was to counter the scandal of woods-marriage, in which the guy said the next morning that he never promised anything and she asked for it, etc. Public marriage meant that the man made the offer and the woman consented before witnesses. This helped keep seduction and “date rape” under control. In the church, the witness was the priest. In civil law, it was a magistrate. In the old clan system, the two clans ensured the matter.

    Is marriage mandatory as soon as you have children?

    Used to be; but the State has been emptying it out ever since it took over. You will notice that it has only been since marriage was destroyed as a civil institution that anyone else wants to come and play dress-up in the ruins.

    Your use of male+female being “natural” to imply that anything else is unnatural is patently false if you take 15 minutes to understand nature.

    You are confusing “natural” with “anything that happens.” But when you understand why the motion of a thrown baseball is in part unnatural, you will begin to grasp it.

    Therefore interracial marriages were contrary to God’s will and unnatural. This is common sense! /sar./

    This is a common misunderstanding. There is nothing in the nature of marriage that prevents interracial couples. Otherwise there would be no reason for laws to forbid it. It is simply the preferences of the people, or as Luis says, the “social conversation.”

  55. Good piece. Of course it will not convince anyone who does not understand or buy into the idea that government has no role in defining marriage under the general welfare clause. You see all kinds of specious analogies raised here to support the prediliction for it to have such a role.

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  57. @Sanderr van der Wal: “Contracts can be broken.”
    Contracts can also be legally dissolved. Nothing in life is eternal.

  58. @Ye Olde Statistician
    “No, it’s a contract between the couple and the State that the couple will accept the burden of raising of any children they might produce.”
    Where did you read that? In European countries, there is no law whatsoever that regulations how people have to live together. There is no obligation to have children.

  59. @Briggs 17 March 2013 at 10:43 am

    I think you need to provide a definition of a natural right then go on and show how this differs from custom or tradition when it comes to marriage.

    I’m not convinced that hetero sexual marriage is a natural right.

  60. I haven’t discovered a logical argument in favor of same-sex marriage, but every day I discover a new logical argument against it. I am glad you are speaking up on the topic; I’m only afraid that the proponents of same-sex marriage are guided by that common postmodern approach to understanding that is based solely on how we feel emotionally. Logical argument is a foreign language to them.

  61. @Ye Olde Statistician
    “No, it’s a contract between the couple and the State that the couple will accept the burden of raising of any children they might produce.”
    benpal
    Where did you read that? In European countries, there is no law whatsoever that regulations how people have to live together. There is no obligation to have children.

    YOS
    Europe is much further along the Untergang than Canada and America. I speak of what marriage is in its essence. There is no obligation to produce children, only an obligation to care for and raise any that might eventuate. That is, “if you’re going to couple like minxes, you have to take care of what happens as a consequence. Think of it like posting a bond.

    From a civil perspective, a marriage can be dissolved if there are no children, and indeed the Code of Khamurapi cites barrenness as a reason for setting aside a wife and taking a concubine. (That’s why divorce once required a year’s separation before it was granted.)
    + + +

    Steve Crook:
    I think you need to provide a definition of a natural right then go on and show how this differs from custom or tradition when it comes to marriage.

    I’m not convinced that hetero sexual marriage is a natural right.

    You may be confusing a “right” with a benefit or entitlement. A right is something seen as justified in its defense. It is not an obligation on others to provide some good.

    There is a natural right to life because “in the common course of nature” all human beings will struggle to preserve their lives. This is true regardless whether the struggle is successful. Even a criminal’s defense of his life is seen as just. Even a suicide’s wrists will in autopsy show “hesitation marks” as he struggles against his own nature with the razor blade.

    In similar wise, there is a natural right to reproduce, regardless whether the effort is successful. If this were not human nature, there would be after a generation or so no human species. (In fact, now that we think on’t, the struggle for life and the struggle to reproduce are simply the two strokes of the Darwinian engine that drives physical evolution. Deny them and you deny evolution.)

    Natural rights thus stem from human nature, not from customs or practices, no matter how long-established.

    A number of customs grew up around the marriage act (as it is called), generally to safeguard the participants or to safeguard society. Unconstrained breeding leads to overpopulation, so humans instituted various restrictions on marriage, such as: age limits, consanguinity, permanence, exclusivity, public offer and consent, etc. The old primitive Indo-European dictum that “the act makes the marriage” — i.e., that the marriage act itself was sufficient to create a marriage — was superseded by the Roman/Christian dictum that “consent makes the marriage” — i.e., that the woman had to freely consent to the act. This meant that a woman could not be abducted and raped as a means of “acquiring a young woman.” And to obviate he-said-she-said it had to be done in public, before witnesses.

    Note too that the English term “marry” derives from the *PIE term *mari, meaning “a young woman.” The Latin term maritus meant “a married man, husband,” i.e., “a man provided with a young woman (*mari).” But for a man “to marry” was ducere uxorem (lit. “lead a wife”) while for a woman to marry was nubere (from obnubere “to wear a veil on the head” and from which both “nuptial” and “nubile/marriagable/husband-high”)

  62. I think you have made the arguement for same sex marraige.

    Marriage is a contract between two people before the eyes of God, family, the law and the state. This contract is the FUNDMENAL component of the marriage. The state is not a necessary part of the contract but they are currently part of the contract. There is nothing about this contract that says that only members of the oppostise sex can commit to one annother.

  63. It’s not about “commitment”. A mother and her son are committed to each other. Are they married? Sears and Roebuck were committed to each other. Were they married?

  64. @Doug M: “Marriage is a contract between two people before the eyes of God, family, the law and the state.”
    For my marriage, God must have been out of office, he didn’t show up. The mutual families were present but they are not mentioned in the certificate, they have no legal commitment whatsoever.
    The law determines how to compose your family name, also valid for eventual offsprings.
    The State gives you a tax break (lower progression than for two singles living together unmarried) on presentation of the certificate.

    “There is nothing about this contract that says that only members of the oppostise sex can commit to one annother.”
    You are right. That’s why Briggs pleads for the State to get its hands off this kind of contract altogether.

  65. @benpal. Meh. Shall I assume you are misunderstanding (like ‘ol GWB) and try and re-explain myself, and-or try and correct you? Or shall I act from experience, assume you not foolish, and are quite likely instead corrupt? I know this to be the case, and so do you.

    Mmmm. Having perused some of your other comments, here is some biblical nonsense, just for you:
    Rom.1: 29+: Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, DEBATE, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
    Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
    Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
    Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    People such as yourself have taught people such as myself the extreme degree and extent to which the above is true. Having learned just what bubbles inside people such as yourself, the reasonable response is this: you are going to go to Hell, because (among other reasons) you are corrupt, and the God who does indeed exist, will have no truck with those who do evil, or with those who work at expanding it.

    But let me re-phrase that in a context you might care about: Tell me, should there be those aliens you hope exist in the stead of God, do you honestly think that they will treat you and yours with anything else but naked contempt? Do you truly imagine that the foul corruptions of you and yours will be met with a smile? Consider what they will see, of you and yours, through their spy-bots: YOU VACU-SUCK YOUR CHILDREN’S BRAINS OUT. And justify it with one of the greatest examples of sheer bullshit the world has ever seen: ‘fetus-is-not-a-baby’ my fat fairy butt.
    Honesty is a very simple, very basic, very valuable thing: no complex civilization can exist without it. Yet you alien-loving hippies treat it like excrement.
    Either my God exists, considers you to be worthless filth, and will toss you into Hell; or else your gods, the aliens, will exterminate you all (all the way from Obama’s masters down to the likes of you) as agents of corruption.

    edited

  66. Part #1 misses the point as far as I can see. Activists for same-sex marriage aren’t seeking the granting of the spiritual or ritual properties of marriage from the state, but the civil law consequences. This is something that can be issued by the state.

  67. Problems with Brigg’s thought process
    Without going into specifics of history, theocracy, as well as the intertwining of the state and religion throughout world history that eventually led to the separation of church and state in the US. The starting point of Mr Briggs argument is wrong, and as such his entire argument building off it falls apart.
    1) Marriage did not come first. Copulation with a willing partner came first. Then came the state, and then came marriage. Procreation does not require marriage. Safety of the individual by joining with a larger group (a state) came before the concept of marriage. The primary purpose of marriage has never been procreation; it has been the passing of accumulated wealth and power from one generation to ones offspring within the larger group (the state), that and improving your position within society (the state) It does not matter if you are royalty or a craftsman, marriage until recently, has been for the improvement of one’s own position within the state and/or that of your extended family.
    2) The state is not a modern creation. The state is, at its smallest level, a group of individuals working together for protection. That starts with small tribes in pre-history, continued thru city states, to smaller states and continues into the larger nation states of today.
    3) Marriage is not a natural right, marriage is an institution created by man. I would be willing to go as far as to say procreation with a willing partner is a natural right, but that is not marriage, nor does it require marriage.
    4) Since the purpose of marriage is social standing within the larger group (the state) and the passing of wealth to your offspring within the larger group (the state)…marriage has always since its inception in pre-history fitted itself around the state, not the other way arround

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  69. Axel,

    You are incorrect on the state existing before marriage. The smallest unit of grouping is the family (form of primitive marriage) which predates all larger groupings. If you want to go back that far the correct sequence would be:

    Sex
    Procreation
    Females discover that it is advantageous to have a male around long term for protection
    marriage/family
    clan
    tribe
    ….

  70. Axel
    Copulation with a willing partner came first.

    Notice how you smuggle Christian morality into things. The willingness came later. Under pagan Germanic law “the act makes the marriage.” That is, the copulation was in and of itself the marriage.
    The Greek word for “marry” was γάμειν (gamein) which means “to take to wife” from γάμετε (gamete) “a wife.” The root γάμος (gamos) means simply a mating.
    The Latin term maritus meant a man who has been provided with a young girl (*mari). This made its way via French into English as “marriage.”
    The German term is die Heirat (lit., care of a house). The first syllable is MHG hîw- which refers to “a man-and-woman pair” and is found in Old Icelandic, etc.

    In all cases inspected, the concept for which we use the term “marriage” goes back to a conjugal union between a man and a woman. The various taboos, requirements, ceremonies, etc. grew up around this central core. It would be a mistake to suppose that one could maintain these taboos, requirements, ceremonies, etc. while gutting the substance and refer to anything else as “marriage.” That would be like referring to North Korea as a “democratic republic.” Calling it that doesn’t make it so. Imitating the outward trappings while emptying out the substance is what we call “cargo cult.”

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  72. The answer to your question is:

    In the UK, the government got into marriages as an attempt by aristocrats to try to regulate breeding in the lower class. In the USA, it was an attempt to prevent interracial breeding and did not begin until after the Civil War. Marriage licenses weren’t issued by all of the U. S. states until well into the 20th century.

  73. From Part 1: There was marriage before the State, before any organized, formalized hierarchy existed; before there were such things as contracts or even paper to write them on. Before State and government there was biology.
    Homosexuality also predates the State. It is not a modern invention. There were committed same sex relationships prior to any government. Why now does government have the right to prohibit these things which occur in nature – the same nature used in Part 1 to validate marriage in general ??

  74. Adam,

    False: there was no same-sex marriage, no matter how many “relationships” there were.

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