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Monday, July 18, 2011

On Same-Sex Marriage

The same-sex marriage (SSM) debate, IMO, boils down to this question:  Who owns the term ‘marriage’ and who has the right to define it (or re-define it) on behalf of our entire society?  

My old Webster’s Dictionary from college defined marriage as “the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family."  Today, Word’s dictionary defines it as, “a legally recognized relationship, established by a civil or religious ceremony, between two people who intend to live together as sexual and domestic partners.”  When did this transition occur and on whose authority?   

Whereas the original definition was based on centuries of human behavior, accepted social practice and a history of law on the subject, it seems the new definition is to work in the reverse.  The elites and special interests will decide how marriage is now defined, and people will behave accordingly.  If you see nothing wrong with that process, consider what would happen if a group of white supremacists attempted to unilaterally re-define the word “human” to apply only to Caucasians.  This would incite outrage, and rightly so.  That should illustrate the dangers of any one group co-opting terms that affect us all.

In order to answer the question as to who should decide the definition of marriage, we need to begin at the beginning.  Marriage is not a “right” in the sense that free speech is a right.  It is merely a process that makes possible and sets forth the conditions under which societies will agree to legally recognize a union between two people.  If all local governments suddenly decided to get out of the marriage business, a couple wanting to marry would have no recourse to the federal government.  Marriage is not addressed in the Constitution, which is consistent with the nature of that document.  The founders steered clear of promising to protect the kind of “rights” that placed an obligation on other citizens, as marriage does.  So how can SSM be a “right” if marriage in and of itself is not a right?

Now let’s talk about civil rights and discrimination.  Some people claim that to disallow SSM is discriminatory.  First let me say that marriage is discriminatory by design.  It leaves out same-sex couples, children and close blood relatives because the intent was to facilitate the unions of adult men and women as a means of promoting a certain foundation for society.  If defining marriage as a union between men and women is discriminatory, then what is the legal basis for making it off limits to children and close blood relatives?  In fact, what would be the basis for any restrictions whatsoever? 

I also disagree with the notion that marriage discriminates against gays due to the fact that no one is prohibited from marrying on the basis of their gender or sexual preference.  One could claim that gays don’t derive the same benefit from their access to marry since it is limited to the opposite sex; however, since when is the government in the business of guaranteeing that we all receive an equal benefit from those things we are legally entitled to do?  It’s not.  Someone who is seven feet tall probably does not enjoy the same comfort when riding a city bus as someone five feet tall.  That’s too bad.  Not everyone gets to marry someone rich and goodlooking like Brad Pitt.  Can they claim discrimination?  Certainly they aren’t receiving the same benefit as if they married a poor guy who looks like Michael Moore.

So if there’s no basis for instituting SSM under the Constitution or the Civil Rights Act, we’re still left with the question:  who should decide how marriage is defined? And the answer is simple:  We, the people, should decide.  If we can agree on that much then the reasons each one of us may have for being in favor of SSM or for not being in favor of SSM are irrelevant.  To stipulate otherwise brings us right back to square one, where this or that group claims the right to define what marriage is for all of us based on the superiority of their own reasoning.

Now having said all that and made the case for a democratic approach to the issue of SSM, be assured that the Left has no intention of allowing that to happen.  They want to be the ones who decide how marriage will be defined.  They do everything they can to avoid a vote so that they alone can impose their will upon the rest of us.

18 comments:

  1. The term Marriage is a religious term for a legal contract. It is a contract that applies specifically to a man and a woman and you can't change that. What's next, getting dogs or cats baptized? Or women having a Bris ceremony? I don't care if someone is gay, that's their business. But don't try to tell me that to gays are husband and wife. Unless they have two different sets of genatilia, they aren't husband and wife; hence they aren't married.

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  2. CW, very well thought out and written blog. You make a very compelling argument. With that said, I am not a big social conservative - not that I do not have conservative views on social issues - I do not see social issues as national problems. I see them as state issues that each individual state can decide. The thing that disapoints me most about gay marriage advocates is that they protest in a disresprectful way, and until they can be respectful to other people with opposing views I simply cannot support the movement.

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  3. "...“the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family." Proper definition.

    First grade biology -- boys and girls are different. If you flunked this fundamental class, don't assume I will take anything you say for granted. Period.

    Second -- gays can't procreate and have always been and always will be a miniscule part of any population with no direct means to reproduce. Fifth grade biology.

    Third -- have a relative who thinks he's "married." Have had to confront this issue directly. Nuff said.

    Great post, CW!! Make sure you advertise it on a couple blogs at TH.

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  4. Jim, Patrick, Mrs. AL,

    Thank you all for your comments. I appreciate getting your takes on things, as always.

    You know, for a long time I worked on articulating my argument against gay marriage until I realized that what I thought was being made irrelevant by those who are determined to have their way by gaming the system. At that point I realized that the more important battle is not to allow the Left to impose their will unilaterally, because the more battles they win that way, the more emboldened they will be. If we can force them to fight fair, we win both battles.

    Patrick - ordinarily I am a big on letting the states decide things, as it was intended by the Constitution; however, I am having trouble conceiving of how this would work in practice with respect to SSM. What happens when a SS couple moves to a state that has voted against SSM? Are the people in the new state under some obligation to recognize that marriage? How would the federal gov’t treat it? I’m not criticizing your suggestion, mind you, just trying to walk thru how it would work in reality.

    I think the founders didn’t deal with marriage because it never would have occurred to them that we could become so crazy as to actually consider something like SSM.

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  5. CW, here's some additional info regarding the "full faith and credit" clause. It's an interesting discussion. At least it is a place to start. ( http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Full+Faith+and+Credit+Clause )

    Also, you hit the nail on the proverbial head when you said: "I think the founders didn’t deal with marriage because it never would have occurred to them that we could become so crazy as to actually consider something like SSM." Exactly correct!

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  6. GOOD POST! I think the creator of marriage has the correct view. Just look up in the "manual' Imagine someone coming up to Henry Ford with an oxcart and pasing it off as a car?

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  7. Thank you for the link, Mrs. AL. It confirmed my concerns and I had forgotten about The Defense of Marriage Act which presently is under attack (surprise, surprise) by the Left. As is always the case they are determined to have their way regardless of the Constitution and regardless of the will of the people.

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  8. Thank you Snow Knight! Glad you dropped by.

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  9. There is NO discrimination in marriage. Every person has the same marriage rights. Everyone who is of legal age and mentally capable of making such decisions may marry anyone else who is also of age, mentally competent, not of blood relation (the degree of separation varies by state), and of the opposite gender.

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  10. I agree CRAWFISH. Thanks for stopping by.

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  11. When are you going to put up another post, CW? I am taking a break from TH (you can read my thread at TH and check out BrianR.'s place for an explanation).

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  12. Good morning Mrs. AL!

    I will probably post something today (no promises, though).

    Yes, I saw the exchange that you’re referring to. I can’t say that I blame you but I hate for The Disturbed One to have the satisfaction of believing that he chased you away.

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  13. I am simply waiting to see if BrianR has really gotten TH to add things like comment approval/disapproval, etc. I am reading,just not commenting. I am also limiting my reading as TH revenues are partially based on # visitors, etc. I Did notice this AM that most if not all those goofy jewelry posts are absent. Any way ... that little nobody isn't winning anything and my time is too valuable to put up with crapola. Too many good blogs, etc elsewhere! Like HERE.

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  14. The biology of child-producing has for ages been clear and established. We needn't wander into today's science which is clouding those waters.

    Is the non-argument here just semantics? Is our problem with two men or two women excercising their unalienable right to liberty just that they want to refer to their relationship as a "marriage"?

    You may say that God disapproves of their behavior, but as I understand it, HIS day of reckoning and judgment comes later, but free will exists now.

    Meanwhile, there's the matter of the federal government applying different tax and benefits formulae for "traditional" and same-sex couples. From whence comes justification for THAT?

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  15. Pete:

    >>” Is our problem with two men or two women excercising their unalienable right to liberty just that they want to refer to their relationship as a "marriage"?”

    No. Our problem is when two men or two women demand that the REST OF US recognize their union as a marriage. That’s an infringement on MY liberty.

    >>”You may say that God disapproves of their behavior, but as I understand it, HIS day of reckoning and judgment comes later, but free will exists now.”

    Not sure who you’re talking to here but I never said that. What I said was that each person is entitled to his own reasons for either being in favor of or against SSM.

    >>“Meanwhile, there's the matter of the federal government applying different tax and benefits formulae for "traditional" and same-sex couples. From whence comes justification for THAT?”

    I am not a proponent of different tax rates for single versus married persons. That’s a separate issue, in my view.

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  16. Don't disagree at all.

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  17. Hey CW!

    Here is the somewhat esoteric comment I never made when you first posted. What we are witnessing is the battle over conceptual change. This often happens with controversies over human institutions. When we look at "material reality"--concepts are usually clear and undergo little change. Humans form a mental concept of a species of animal, a dog let's day, and its pretty clear what everyone means when we assign the word "dog" to this domesticated animal. With "social reality"--the institutions that humans create, things sometimes aren't so clear. We often engage in disagreements over social concepts such a moneys, equality, marriage, family, democracy, etc. For example, we call our government a republic. China calls itself the Peoples Republic of China. Is is really a republic? Or should equality refer only to legal status, or economic well being? What is money? That concept has changed. Some used to say only gold coin. Then we had paper money backed by gold. Now we have paper money by fiat. Now we are fighting over what is marriage? Man and woman? Two people of any gender? Three people?

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    Replies
    1. Hi V.L.

      For some reason Blogger isn't notifying me about comments now so I didn't even know this was here until I was looking for something on my site and found a bunch of comments "awaiting moderation." So I feel a little better now because I thought I'd been deserted.

      Anyways, you make great points. The bottom line is that definitions matter. They matter a lot, which is why we are fighting over them as a nation. To borrow from a comment made by Brian R on his site, I don't necessarily mind losing as long the choice was made in a fair and democratic way, meaning we all get an equal say in how marriage is defined. Right now I think that democratic process is being trampled.

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