Sylvain Allard, a history student at the Université de Montréal specializing in US history and individuals rights and freedoms, graciously took up the challenge of constructing an argument in favor of same-sex marriage. It is structured in answer to each of my original five Questions. For his response, each Question will form the top part of a separate post. I’ll use the bottom part to show why he is wrong.
A few months ago, Mr. Briggs proposed a four part, five question series of arguments against same sex marriage. In this short essay I will demonstrate that many of Mr. Briggs arguments can be seen either as wrong or as belief which are different from being fact.
First, a few comment about his intro:
It is somewhat presumptuous from your part to say that people who support gay marriage haven’t considered their belief seriously. It is not because someone reaches a different conclusion that they did not think hard before reaching that conclusion.
Gay marriage is an example of civil rights, because this is about the freedom and liberty of an individual. On one hand, rights that belong to each individual are universal. To prove my point, I will use the Canadian Charts of Rights and Freedoms:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
*(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
*(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
*(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
*(d) freedom of association.
On the other hand, collective rights are not universal and they apply only to certain group of people. In Canada, there are very few examples of collective rights other than collective bargaining and laws about first nations. In the US, affirmative action, the GI bill is another example.
The UN declaration of human rights was the answer to the horror of the Second World War where the Nazis killed people based on religion/races (Jews and Slaves), sexual orientation, handicaps, disabilities and retardation.
There are no natural rights; rights are the result of evolution of thought and society. The right to freedom and liberty are very recent and started in part with the English and US Bill of Rights in the 1700s, closely followed by the French revolution. Until the mid-19th century slavery was a worldwide phenomenon. A phenomenon that is still present today though not as much as it once was and not as much in the open as it once was. Women have only recently obtained the right to be included as a person by the law. Before the middle of the 1800s, women were not considered like people by the law, and if a woman was raped, it was either the father or the husband that received compensation for the loss of value of their daughter or wives. It is only in the last 300 years that mankind has been able to evolve and recognize people as individual, instead of disposable commodities to the powerful.
The main argument of Mr. Briggs in the first question is that male-female mating is so natural that the institution of marriage preceded the institution of the state, thus the state cannot change the meaning of marriage.
There are several mistakes with this interpretation. First, mating does not equal marriage. There is no reason to believe that the first human mated in an exclusive manner which would imply marriage. Homosexual mating is observed in many species so this is not as unnatural as some might believe. Another main problem is that there is no reason or need to get married if there is no state.
Second, the definition of states used by Mr. Briggs is the modern one. It doesn’t take into account that anytime a group of people unite together, would it be to form a tribe, there is some form of state that will be created. Tribe have social order. They create rule that will be adopted by the governing body and are followed by the member of the tribe. Even though the state developed by those people doesnâ€™t correspond to our recent definition, it doesn’t mean it was not there. To belong to a tribe required the member to abide by a code of conduct. In short, any form of society becomes a state, even militias.
Also, marriage has long been used as an economic and politic tool to create alliances between tribes and later kingdoms. Marriage was rarely used for the stricter role to procreate (the first ones were the Jewish people). Anyways someone could try to present it; marriage was never present before some basic kind of state was formed. Marriage is the creation of a basic state.
If marriage was as natural and as respected an institution, then there would be no need to have a specific commandment to protect it. What this means is that at some point the Jewish state decided to condemn something that was common practices. It means that the Jewish State define what marriage was. Any State can define marriage as it wants since it created the institution of marriage.
O! Canada! Why hast thou persecuted those who wouldst not submit to the new enlightenment! Why have your Human “Rights” Commissions sought for their prey amongst the religious? Poor Stephen Boissoin! Cast from the city for quoting the Bible on the subject of homosexuality. Pity Bill Whatcott! Made to grovel before judges for using the words “detestation” and “vilification”. Speaking opinions can now be a crime of “hate” in the semi-frozen North.
History is our subject today, and our guide. What has happened in Canada is likely to happen here (and is). Yet Allard is correct to suggest that because no culture has ever before labeled (say) two, three, four, even five or more men “married” that therefore this act is immoral. Whether or not any culture performs a certain act or ritual, or neglects another, is never absolute proof that these acts or rituals are immoral or moral.
A vote cannot make an act moral. If it could, we cannot complain about the acts Germany in the 1930s-40s, or those of China in the 20th Century, or those of North Carolina today (that state adopted a constitutional amendment defining marriage man-woman; if you are an SSM advocate you must show why this is wrong; if you ignore the question, we will be right in assuming you cannot). Therefore we must look outside mere opinion and beyond history to discover whether any act or ritual is right or wrong. In short, we must argue philosophically.
But we can augment our arguments with history. It is clear that marriage, on the whole and, with small and rare exceptions, everywhere at all times, was man-woman. It was never man-man, nor man-man-man, nor man-goat-man, etc. (And don’t let’s complain of a straw man: plenty of folks out there who want to “marry” animals, just as there are currently countries where bestiality is legal.)
SSM advocates say marriage should be a pair. On what basis? History? But history says no same-sex unions, so history is no guide and no grounds for argument. If SSM supporters want to prove pairings, they must use evidence outside history. Biology? Because, for instance, those unions which produce and care for children are pairings? Surely not: biology (science) adamantly argues against “gene-killing” SSM (yes, there are rare exceptions in, say, medically augmented woman-woman unions, but the notion is largely true). There never has been a coherent argument for non-man-woman pairings except “I want it!”
It used to be said (more history), and all evidence suggested, that children raised jointly by their married biological parents were better off (in any dimension) than those raised otherwise. Recent history shows us this fact will no longer be allowed to be held. Children, it will be insisted, will thrive just as well—better, even—were they to be raised by the gentleman I saw at yesterday’s “Pride” parade, who was wearing naught but a thong and a small sign which read “HIV positive”.
As an aside, I wonder if I should strip off and march down Times Square with a placard reading “Gallstone bearer.” Would the press write of me supportively? Would Anthony Kennedy “friend” me on Facebook?
How about the kids raised by those who mainly have physical pleasure on their minds, as is evidently the case in “Pride” attendees? Think they don’t? Then why must float-riders prance about nearly or even wholly naked while simulating (that’s an assumption) sex acts? How often have you seen heterosexual “pride” parades similarly accoutered?
But never mind. Let’s accept that the people in these parades are an aberration or a small minority. Accept, even, for the sake of argument that kids would prosper under their care. Does that prove that SSM is right? Of course not. It doesn’t prove it wrong, either. But we have four more Questions in front of us.
Whoever does not act like a lady or gentleman in responding will be banned.