Three secular arguments against same-sex marriage

Discussion in 'Law and Justice System' started by Qball, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. Qball
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    If anyone here even knows me, they know I've spent a lot of time debating SSM. I figured, given the fact that there are four states voting on the issue this election, it would be nice to make a thread outlining three secular, somewhat legal arguments against same-sex marriage. I do not expect anyone to be persuaded in one direction or another -- I'm aware that whenever people complain about religious based arguments to SSM, they're doing so to paint their opponents as crazy, but they're not actually interested in entertaining non-religious arguments -- but at least many of you wont be able to say you've never seen someone argue without using religion.

    1. Traditional marriage is neither the cause nor the by-product of LGBT bigotry.

    Any reasonable person would acknowledge the LGBT community has faced discrimination. I think most people would, broadly speaking, support LGBT tolerance as a basic matter of peer-acceptance. Churches shouldn't shun their LGBT members, families shouldn't cast their relatives aside because they live their lives differently, etc. But we do not define marriage as the union of a man and a woman as a by-product of intolerance and hatred of the LGBT community. The history and tradition of marriage is broader and more complex than that. For a lot of people, it's not that the tradition of marriage can't change, it's that it can't be "corrected" through legalization of same-sex marriage.

    2. Marriage should not be used as a tool to promote social tolerance.

    Supporters compare their fight for same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement. I've always emphatically disagreed with them, given the nature and severity of the civil rights movement when compared to the push for "marriage equality". Marriage serves many functions, but to my knowledge it was only recently that it had anything to do with "equality" between two types of people.

    I don't think it's really anything like the civil rights movement outside of the rhetoric; I think it's more similar to a lot of radical feminist thought I've read. In the 1960s-70s there was a particular school of thought among radical feminists that marriage is a patriarchal construct meant to oppress and subjugate women. Because of this, many women refused to marry or made sure to keep their maiden name. There are a lot of feminists in their golden years who have long-term live-in spouses because they rejected what marriage meant, symbolically.

    I'm not saying gays are trying to destroy marriage, but I am saying I think the push for SSM as a whole is due to a misguided notion that the only way we can have true LGBT tolerance is to knock down any institution that seems to uphold hetero-normativity, and given how "open-minded" we are these days about gender roles and whatnot, marriage exists as a heterosexual union. Of course, as I've somewhat explained, it's more than that, but for many people who support gay marriage, all they see is gay and straight.

    3. Much of the legal institution of marriage exists due to the unique relationship between men and women.

    If you accept the #1, it stands to reason that most of the benefits and privileges tied to marriage exist because of the relationship between men and women, and before you go thinking this is the part where I wax on about the beauty of procreation, indulge me here for one moment. Whenever someone mentions that two people of the same sex don't produce children, many supporters quickly point out that procreation isn't a requirement for marriage and that barren straight couples aren't denied their right to marry. Well, both are true, but they're also missing the point.

    It isn't just that heterosexual couples have children and same-sex couples don't within their relationship; it's that many of these benefits exist given the social and biological differences between men and women. Though it's getting better now, women still tend to earn less and work less than men. It used to be that many women and their children relied mostly on the husband's salary and benefits from his employment. But what happened if the husband left, died, or got fired? That's why "marital status" is considered in many entitlement programs. Not because of the beauty and sacrament of marriage, but because of the inequality between men and women.

    Men don't have to worry about getting pregnant and taking a few months off work to have a child. Most of them don't come out of the workplace indefinitely to raise children. Not to say it can't or doesn't happen, it just tends not to. The government doesn't have the same impetus to provide a social safety net for fundamentally barren couples.

    So, same-sex couples take it as an affront to their relationship because people disagree with them being kissed into a legal and social framework that's set up to accommodate a particular type of marriage. If we acknowledge gender is irrelevant to the purposes of legal marriage, that doesn't make a strong argument for the continuance of many of the instances of marriage.
     
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  2. Montrovant
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    Montrovant Fuzzy bears!

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    I don't see how this is actually an argument against same sex marriage. It seems more like a counter argument to someone saying opposite sex marriage is based on bigotry.

    Why shouldn't marriage be used?
    Even assuming someone agrees with your statement, is that all that same sex marriage is, a tool to promote social tolerance? That seems to ignore the idea that it is a matter of equal rights or access to benefits.

    I have two points in response to this. The first is that, whatever the reasons some aspects of marriage may originally have been created, that doesn't mean they must be maintained today. You mentioned women working less and making less money; unless that is something we intend to be the case, why would anyone want to maintain aspects of marriage based on that?
    My second point is that I don't think there are too many parts of marriage that are based solely on opposite genders.

    Your arguments seem to be less against same sex marriage and more against certain arguments FOR same sex marriage. There is an important difference there.
     
  3. Qball
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    It's a claim I hear some variation on all the time. A lot of supporters believe defense of traditional marriage -- marriage being solely the union of a man and woman -- is due to people being intolerant of gays and lesbians. That first point is to say, we don't define marriage in the traditional sense just to discriminate against gay people. It's not a valid argument to say that since this way is bigoted, it should change in order to have marriage equality. I think that argument sort of encapsulates why a lot of people, even now, still don't support it. Not because they're so Bible-whipped they can't accept gay people wanting to marry, but because they reject the idea that the "old way" is unacceptable.

    Marriage shouldn't be used to promote social tolerance because it isn't the cause of intolerance for gays and lesbians, nor is it based on intolerance. And obviously, it's a controversial issue, so I don't know how much true tolerance we will have if society isn't allowed to come around on their core ideas about marriage and instead, it's just forced on us.

    Even saying it's a matter of equal rights and access to benefits, understand you already have that. Gays and lesbians, as individuals, aren't expressly kept from benefits because they can't marry the way they want to. And I would even argue -- like I do in #3 -- that there isn't a compelling reason for us to treat same-sex couples equal to heterosexual couples given the implications of the two. I mean, the government bestowing a benefit doesn't automatically entitle you to it. It'd be great if I were able to qualify for, say, affirmative action, but since I'm a white guy nobody is making sure I'm given an "equal chance". Or, something more mundane, it would be nice if I could keep my job but still get Social Security benefits. But I can't. The reason for the regulating of benefits is because we don't benefit from just giving everybody everything they want, no questions asked.

    Because the historical justification for many legal benefits tied to marital status still exist, in part, today. More women work and earn almost equal to their male counterparts, but the point I made about women working less and earning less on account of having children is still the case today. The point is, this is an issue specific to the heterosexual model of marriage. If marriage existed as any two consenting adults, it's like trying to use the same medicine to cure two different ailments. Marital benefits are costly to the state which is why they're tailored to one type of marriage (traditionally speaking).

    I...kind of don't think you got my point, because this didn't make a lot of sense.

    That's kind of true, but it's not really an important distinction since the point is same-sex marriage isn't legal and, in my opinion, ought not be legalized given the overall point of having legal marriage in the first place. Like I said, I have no problem with the notion of LGBT equality, but I don't feel marriage is the correct and proper tool to achieve it, nor do I believe the lack of legal SSM is the vestige of intolerance.
     
  4. WorldWatcher
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    Of course anyone can have any opinion that they want and thank you for a respectful and well articulated OP.

    Whether Traditional Marriage was the cause or a by-product of a desire to discriminate against LGBT citizens of the United States is pretty irrelevant to an examination of current discriminatory laws and a decision as to whether there is a compelling government interest in continuing said discrimination.

    I agree, legislation cannot correct discrimination in the past. However it can prevent the continuance of discrimination.


    Again I agree. The ONLY purpose for legalizing Same-sex Civil Marriage is to place into effect an end to government discrimination without a compelling government interest. If the government is going to award Civil Marriage licenses, then there should be a compelling government interest in denying like situated groups.

    If you were to do some research, you can find that groups opposing the legalization of Same-sex Civil Marriage have been airing ads which use scare tactics with the idea that voting to approve Same-sex Civil Marriage would lead to average citizen businesses having the right to discriminate (as in choose to service a customer or not) removed. Actually that has nothing to do with Same-sex Civil Marriage. For example the School Counselor in the ad, the VT Bed & Breakfast, The Photographer, etc... Pssst - those cases have nothing to do with Same-sex Civil Marriage as the complaints were filed under existing Public Accommodation Laws, not Marriage laws.

    I support the removal of Public Accommodation laws being applied to private businesses as I think they (IMHO) are contrary to the United States Constitutions 1st Amendment and the right of assembly. Part of the right of assembly is not only choosing who you wish to assemble with, but also choosing who you choose not to assemble with. It probably wouldn't be pretty for awhile, but hey, freedom and liberty are messy sometimes.


    There are very few (and the only reason I don't say "any" is because there may be some obscure law somewhere) that are uniquely designed with the gender of the spouse in terms of functionality under the law. Take Social Security for example, it doesn't matter the gender of the higher wage earner, in the event of the death of the higher wage earner the surviving spouse can draw retirement at the higher wage earners rate once they reach retirement age. Same with estate taxes, home sale, etc... Gender is irrelevant in ability to be eligible for benefits.

    One thing I'm not understanding is what the social and biological conditions in today's world provide that Civil Marriage between a man and a woman must be recognized while Civil Marriage must be rejected between a man and a man and a woman and a woman.


    **********************************************

    Many do make the argument that rejection of Same-sex Civil Marriage should be based on an inability to reproduce within the relationship. And on this board I've seen a poster state emphatically that for a family to exist that there must be a biological mother and a biological father in the home. Two spouses are not a family. A couple that adopts because they can't have children is not a family. A divorced mother and her child are not a family. Ya, seems kind of weird to me also.

    Yet the census shows that about 25% of same-sex couples are raising children. If there are governmental advantages to being the legal parents of a child and Civil Marriage is then there to support the raising of children - why deny Civil Marriage to couples raising children. That line of reasoning made no sense to me.

    Same-Sex Couples Census Data Trickles Out: One-Quarter Are Raising Children - ABC News



    **********************************************

    To date, no one has been able to explain a compelling government interest for treating two like situated groups differently based on gender as it pertains to the government. Those groups would be law abiding, tax paying, US Citizen, non-related, infertile, consenting adults in different-sex couple and law abiding, tax paying, US Citizen, non-related, infertile, consenting adults in same-sex couple.



    >>>>
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
  5. theDoctorisIn
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    theDoctorisIn Senior Mod Staff Member Senior USMB Moderator

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    Those are counter-arguments against common arguments for same-sex marriage.

    They're not arguments against SSM.
     
  6. George Costanza
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    Bull shit. Fundie-Conservative opposition to gay marriage can be summed up in one phrase: If I don't like it, you can't have it.
     
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  7. Jimmy_Jam
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    Because marriage is specific kind of institution.

    One may also ask "why shouldn't gentlemen's clubs be used?" The answer would be because, regardless of what one may think of such clubs, it is a specific kind of institution, and including male dancers out of the interest of equality destroys the institution.

    If you don't like that comparison, let's try "why shouldn't motherhood be used?" Again, motherhood is a specific kind of institution. While it may not be a given that a mother is the better parent in every case, it has generally been accepted that mothers tend to be the better choice for primary custody after a divorce. Men and women are not wired the same, and when it comes to nurturing, and simply being more present and involved with their children, I'm sorry men, but women tend to be superior in that regard. So why should men be given equal ground in that area, simply out of the interest of "equality." Sure there are some great fathers out there, and not in every case is the mother the best choice, but in general, they are. Equality in that regard would destroy, or at least demean, the institution of motherhood, and probably destroy a few childhoods, all out of the interest of equality.

    I'm not necessarily backing up the OP's overall thread. But the idea of marriage as an institution between a man and a women, outside of religious considerations, is valid.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  8. C_Clayton_Jones
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    The error here is there’s no such thing as ‘same-sex marriage.’

    There is only marriage, and the laws governing the contract that is marriage, entered into by two equal partners, gender irrelevant. Same-sex couples seek only access to those same laws, unchanged, unaltered, as applied to opposite-sex couples.

    All citizens are entitled to equal protection of the law, including marriage law.

    “A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws” Romer v. Evans (1996).

    It’s a civil rights issue to the extent that a class of persons is being denied its 14th Amendment right to equal protection of the law absent a compelling governmental interest, absent evidence in support of the restriction of the right, and where the state is motivated solely by animus toward same-sex couples.

    The issue has nothing to do with ‘tolerance,’ ‘social justice,’ or ‘marriage equality’; it has only to do with the fact that one does not forfeit his civil liberties as a consequence of his state of residence, one’s civil liberties are not subject to popular vote - we are subject only to the rule of law, not men.

    For well over half a century in most states, perhaps longer in others, the doctrine of coverture was abandoned and written out of marriage law; marriage became a state-sanctioned legal union between two partners in accordance with the state, functioning also as a partner. With marriage a gender-neutral institution, the sex of the partners becomes irrelevant. See: Perry v. Brown, 134 Cal. Rptr. 3d 499 (2011).

    Marriage isn’t being ‘used’ to do anything; marriage is contract law, as written by the states. The 14th Amendment requires all citizens have access to those laws.

    The attempt to portray marriage as some sort of helpless ‘victim’ of the ‘radical gay agenda’ only distorts and misrepresents the issue. Indeed, same-sex couples have no desire to change marriage one iota.

    Same-sex couples only take as an affront their civil liberties being capriciously denied. And no one is requesting a ‘particular type’ of marriage be accommodated, as all marriage is the same, one unchanged law, available to all citizens.
     
  9. Jimmy_Jam
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    But to those that view marriage in the traditional context, it is. Of course there is an agenda. The agenda is to be included in an institution in which they have traditionally been excluded. How would it NOT change?

    If LGBT's want to change the institution of marriage, then they should at least be honest about wanting to change it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2012
  10. Katzndogz
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    The role of marriage is something that could be understood by any basic anthropology course. One of the measures of a barbaric progression into civilization is at which point they develop formal institutions like marriage. It is a benchmark like funeral ceremonies, development of some kind of religion, discovery of fire.

    It follows that a civilization in decline would follow the same path when it returns to barbarism that it took to get out of barbarism.
     

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