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August 09, 2011

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Came here via Tim Challies's link.

Would you say that anti-miscegenation laws are also about mere "definitions" rather than "rights"?

In order for this discussion to be meaningful, you have to ask the question of why we have made marriage a legal institution in the first place. There are many possible answers, but one basic one is that we want to promote families. It is believed that the stronger our families are, the stronger our society will be, with our children being raised in strong committed relationships. The institution of marriage helps and promotes this goal, and so we, in turn, help and promote it. It's the same reason we offer tax incentives for adoption. It's something that we, as a society, want to see more of, so we want to make it easier, legally speaking. You're right that we exclude certain "combinations," but it's not just a matter of semantics, but of values. So I ask you this question: What benefits do committed heterosexual unions bring to society that homosexual unions do not?


The (or at least one of the) substantive issue comes down to whether or not we should extend the rights, responsibilities, and benefits of civil marriage to same-sex couples. The question is therefore a substantive normative question concerning the ways we ought to structure our civil institutions. I think a good way of imposing discipline on the entire conversation is to force people on both sides to explicitly articulate formally valid arguments for the answer to the normative question that they favor. That will shut out folks who simply wish to rant and rave and will also focus the conversation on the premises. I wish the folks at Stand to Reason would rise up to this challenge and do the work necessary to explicitly produce the best formally valid arguments they have for the conclusion that we ought not to extend the rights and benefits of civil marriage to same-sex couples. We could then have a disciplined, focused conversation about the truth of the premises. Here are two examples of what I have in mind.

VALID ARGUMENT AGAINST SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

(A) We should extend the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of civil marriage to same-sex couples only if doing otherwise violates some right had by same-sex couples.
(B) Doing otherwise does not violate some right had by same-sex couples.
(C) Therefore, it is false that we should extend the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of civil marriage to same-sex couples. [from A, B]

VALID ARGUMENT FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

(1) Same-sex couples will continue to be legally permitted to adopt children (there is no real chance that this is going to change).
(2) If same-sex couples will continue to be legally permitted to adopt children, then if extending the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples raising children will greatly benefit those children, then we should extend the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples raising children, unless we have overriding reasons to do otherwise.
(3) Therefore, if extending the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples raising children will greatly benefit those children, then we should extend the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples raising children, unless we have overriding reasons to do otherwise. [1, 2]
(4) Extending the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples raising children will greatly benefit those children (e.g., insurance benefits, child support protection in case parents split, more family stability, more income, etc.).
(5) Therefore, we should extend the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples raising children, unless we have overriding reasons to do otherwise (i.e., reasons that outweigh the benefits that children would receive from extending such rights and benefits). [3, 4]
(6) We do not have overriding reasons to do otherwise.
(7) Therefore, we should extend the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples raising children. [5, 6]
(8) If we should extend the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples raising children, then we should extend the rights and benefits of marriage to all same sex-couples.
(9) Therefore, we should extend the rights and benefits of marriage to all same sex-couples. [7, 8]

I think producing these sorts of arguments is the most mature, rational way to proceed. The question I have had for quite some time is the the following:

What are the best formally valid arguments the folks at Stand to Reason have for the conclusion that we should not extend the rights and benefits of civil marriage to same-sex couples?

Speaking of definitions: "Homosexual unions" is itself a bit of an oxmoronic term. In fact, "homosexual" is a self-contradicting term, if you trhink about it. It attempts to describe and define something which is, in fact, impossible.

Dan: Heterosexual couples are capable of being sexually united and, in most cases, are capable of reproducing and having their own natural children. As we have re-defined "family," we have lost the basic idea that a man and his wife and their children are the basic, natural family. Adoption is a way for providing a true and healthy family structure for children who would not otherwise have one (and I strongly support it), but in a perfect world, adoption would not be necessary. A husband and his wife are able to represent for their children (whether born to them or adopted by them) maleness and femaleness, motherhood and fatherhood. This is important to a child's healthy social, emotional and psychological development. Children in single-parent families suffer from the loss of an essential parent. Likewise, children raised by a mono-gender pair of people also lack either motherhood or fatherhood in their lives. This is no small loss for the child.

Matthew: I see that you enjoy raising red herrings as a distraction to the point of discussion at hand.

Dan,

>>"What benefits do committed heterosexual unions bring to society that homosexual unions do not?"

For starters, they generally produce offspring. Two homosexuals in a committed relationship bring society nothing.

What benefits would a committed polygamist family bring society? Say, 1 husband, 4 wives? That’s an even bigger family with more happy people.

I predict that our society will re-define mariiage to include both mono-gender pairs of people and larer groups of adults (polygamy and polyandry) in the name of equal rights and consenting adults. Within 10-15 years, the general consensus within our society will be that these arrangements are normal and good and that our attempts to ban them was mis-guided and prejudicial. I see this as a fait accompli, given our society's growing consensus on allowing any kind of behavior between "consenting adults."

The question for Christians is clear: Will we have the courage to speak up for the truth in ALL areas of life when our society has decided it does not want to hear what we have to say? I'm reading Jeremiah right now. Will we be the prophetic voice our culture needs but does not want?

Denying rights to "combinations" is offensive language. These are sanitized phrases used to describe bigotry and homophobia.

Well, guess what, you're not denying "combinations" or clarifying "definitions" - you're attempting to legislate against real live human beings - who, by the way, pay taxes, contribute to communities and raise perfectly well-adjusted children.

You better hope that the gay community doesn't pull a "no taxation without representation" on you and stop paying taxes to a system that is happy to take their money but not extend them the right to simply marry.

If that happens, one wonders what might become of the healthy tax breaks that churches receive, when the tax base shrinks exponentially.

Jason,

We might just drop marriage from governmental scope.

We're not likely to abandon our interest in children however.

A shrinking number of Christians will 'have the courage', as you put it. That will be one branch of the religion.

The rest of the Christians will modify the religion or leave it.

RonH

Matthew, even back then, the definition of marriage was still one man, one woman. Those laws were added afterward in an attempt to restrict people from freely entering into that definition of marriage based on their race.

I don't think people would have said that marriage is a man and a woman of the same race. Rather, they were saying that, though marriage is one man and one woman (a distinction relevant to marriage), and though if a black woman and a white man were to marry, they'd truly be married according to that definition, we don't want that to happen. Instead, we're going to give different options for marrying women to a black man than to a white man, merely based on race (a distinction that is truly irrelevant to marriage…and everything else).

Now, if anyone had ever argued for changing the very definition of marriage to say that marriage is a man and a woman of the same race (not merely that they wanted to prevent people from entering into the definition of marriage based on race), I would have argued very strongly that race is utterly irrelevant to the institution of marriage (as I said, boundaries of irrelevant characteristics ought to be rejected). Because while there is a great deal of difference (physically, emotionally, psychologically) between a man and a woman that plays into marriage, there is no relevant difference between a black man and a white man. Skin color simply has nothing to do with the institution of marriage.

This brings us back to where the discussion needs to be. I don't think it's wrong for you to ask us to explain why the differences between men and women are relevant enough that the definition ought to include this distinction. (Notice I didn't say "the differences between heterosexuals and homosexuals." This definition of one man, one woman doesn't make a distinction according to sexual orientation--it only restricts the sex of the person.)

Jane,

>>”Denying rights to "combinations" is offensive language.”

So, then, are you for polygamist marriages? What about a sister and brother if they are of age? That’s a combo. Despite your enthusiasm for rights, would you withhold from them (the combo) their right to marry? Let’s assume they all pay taxes, since that seems to be hot button for you.

KWM: There are plenty of ways for homosexuals to have children. The benefit of marriage to society is not that you produce children (You can do that just fine if you're not married), but that you raise them together.

As far as bringing polygamy into the discussion goes, I would first point out that polygamous marriage HAS been defined as marriage for a huge number of cultures for a huge portion of human history (and was defined so and accepted in the Bible, I'll remind you). We don't legalized polygamy because, for whatever reason, we've decided that it isn't the kind of union we want to promote, not because it goes against the "definition" of marriage. If someone wanted to make a case for recognizing polygamous marriage, they would have to argue it on exactly the same criteria that gays are currently doing. And who knows, maybe we'd be convinced and legalize it. I doubt it, and I think there is a good case to be made against polygamy, but you can't just refuse to have a discussion about these issues by invoking some arbitrary definition. Definitions change, and sometimes they deserve to.

"Remember that the Constitution doesn't recognize rights for combinations of people; rights only belong to individuals."

Federal and state laws afford certain rights (and obligations) only to individuals who are legally married. So to deny certain individuals the opportunity to become legally married does in fact deny them certain rights.

We might also consider the case of anti-miscegenation laws. These were often opposed on the basis that they denied individuals the right to marry someone of a different race. The fact of their differing races came to be seen as an arbitrary requirement and not as an integral part of the definition of marriage.

Those who oppose broadening the definition of marriage to include same-sex unions must demonstrate the opposite-sex requirement is not arbitrary. And they must do so in a manner that doesn't appeal to religion.

From the state's point of view, marriage is just a contract with a special set of fixed terms. Couples who designate themselves as "married" are granted certain rights and obligations. What is the state's compelling interest in prohibiting same-sex individuals from making use of this contract?

Dan,

>>”The benefit of marriage to society is not that you produce children”

Yes it is.

>>”We don't [have] legalized polygamy because, for whatever reason, we've decided that it isn't the kind of union we want to promote.”

So that’s that? Just cause? That sounds like code for bigotry to me.

Buddyglass,

>>”Those who oppose broadening the definition of marriage to include same-sex unions must demonstrate the opposite-sex requirement is not arbitrary. And they must do so in a manner that doesn't appeal to religion.”

Sure. Men and women reproduce. The state takes interest in this. The state, ideally, wants children raised in the households with the human beings that created them. The state feels this is the best way to a productive and civil society.

So to deny certain individuals the opportunity to become legally married does in fact deny them certain rights.

But the point is that no individual is being denied the right to marry. Every individual has the same right to marry--to enter into the definition of marriage. Every individual has the same restrictions placed on him.

KWM. You obviously didn't read my post thoroughly. I suggest you do so again.

To clarify: Marriage doesn't produce children. Sex produces children. You can have children without marriage. Heck, you can raise them without marriage. But marriage is an institution that promotes family cohesion and as such is one that we as a society promote.

KWM - why is it that those who oppose gay marriage always end their arguments with polygamists and people who marry chickens?

Gay is an orientation and everything else that you list is a preference or a deviation.

And yes, if I were gay, I would resent that I had to support a society that decided that there were certain rights that I didn't get, even though I paid my share to maintain that society.

Yes, it's a hot button.

One more thing. There are lots of reasons why we don't encourage polygamy, but frankly I don't think most people have thought it through. It's just a knee-jerk reaction, and no one is making a fuss about that, why? Because, frankly, hardly anyone wants to have a polygamous marriage! You don't have women banging down the doors of courthouses because women have much better options in this country for advancing their position in society than entering the harem of a high-status male. Infant mortality is low, so we don't need the extra children, and there's no attraction for men, since they can get polyamorous sex if they want it without having to take on the burden of supporting multiple wives. Polygamy just doesn't make sense in our society, which is why no one wants it, and why there's no slippery slope from gay marriage to polygamy.

@Jane (8/9/11 @ 10:36AM) - I'll ask the obvious question - who gets to decide what is an "orientation" and what is simply "a preference or a deviation"?

Definitions again.

Jim - an orientation is something that is inherent at birth - ie. like blue eyes, homosexuality.

Preference and deviation are things that are acquired through life experience (good and bad).

Polygamy just doesn't make sense in our society, which is why no one wants it, and why there's no slippery slope from gay marriage to polygamy.

The Los Angeles Times would disagree with you.

Jason

"I predict that our society will re-define mariiage to include both mono-gender pairs of people and larer groups of adults (polygamy and polyandry) in the name of equal rights and consenting adults. Within 10-15 years, the general consensus within our society will be that these arrangements are normal and good and that our attempts to ban them was mis-guided and prejudicial. "

Since when has what society thinks of a thing trumped what God thinks of it?

Dan,
There's a slippery slope because of logic. Logic dictates that if the qualification for marriage is X loves Y, then there is no logical reason not to extend marriage to anyone and everyone who desires it under and pretext: polygamy, incest, men marrying chickens, etc. Just because we don't have to extend marriage to these other groups doesn't mean that our logic for not doing so holds up.

Jason - I think that happened when society either diversified their thinking about God or stopped believing in him altogether.

When will Christians in the West stop trying to apply their religion to public policy?

Progressive societies do adapt to changes, and because American (and Canadian) cultures have diversified so much, it would be ridiculous to legislate "what God thinks". There's no agreement on that, so let's not pretend that there is.

There is such a thing as general consensus and it's not necessarily built on degenerating moral values.

Dan,

>>”Sex produces children. You can have children without marriage.”

Precisely. This is exactly what the state wishes to avoid.

Jane,

>>”Gay is an orientation and everything else that you list is a preference or a deviation.”

Are preferences not important? Why would you discriminate against certain combos with certain preferences?

KWM - Preferences are important to individuals, but shouldn't be to societies.

If someone has an orientation (and I can only think of either homosexuality or bi-sexuality as examples), it's something that they essentially are, and that should be accomodated and protected under law.

People will argue, but I believe that it can be compared to what civil rights did for the protection of blacks.

And yes, I would discriminate against any "combo" (I hate that word, by the way) that harmed someone or took advantage of a weaker member (ie. a child). I think that's a good line to draw.

Jane,

Can you please provide reasons as to why you think same-sex attraction is something that someone is born with? I have been doing a lot of research about this lately and would like to know if you can point me to something I have no already read about.

Thanks,
Austin

Jane,

>>“it would be ridiculous to legislate "what God thinks". There's no agreement on that, so let's not pretend that there is.”

I agree. But let’s not pretend there is agreement on what constitutes progress.

>>”There is such a thing as general consensus and it's not necessarily built on degenerating moral values. “

Was there (is there) not an attempt to ‘change’ and build consensus for same sex marriage? Under your logic the general consensus is always right – but only if it agrees with you.


To clarify, a specific peer reviewed scientific study would be sufficient.

Jane,
So if we can find the incest or polygamy gene, then those would be fine? Honestly when you view humans through a purely biological lens, what's the difference between an orientation and a preference? If someone is turned on by his sister, that happens in his brain (and loins) the same as it does for someone who is gay or straight or whatever. Who are we to say that you can only marry those to whom your genes predispose you?

Austin - I actually don't have any research to site.

And maybe it's junk science, but do you know any gay people? If you did, I would challenge you to present one that has been capable of change (and please no siting "pray the gay away" cases, as they are seriously prone to reverse) or that wasn't aware from a very early age, of a same-sex attraction.

Sorry for my lack of scientific gravitas.

KWM
"I agree. But let’s not pretend there is agreement on what constitutes progress."

I'm not sure that I was proposing that. But personally, I don't see progress as positive or negative - it's just moving forward.

"Was there (is there) not an attempt to ‘change’ and build consensus for same sex marriage? Under your logic the general consensus is always right – but only if it agrees with you."

Again, didn't say that. Of course there's a consensus for this and other change. And I definitely didn't say that it had to agree with me.

All that I do say is that right or wrong, it's always in motion - progression.

Sure. Men and women reproduce. The state takes interest in this.

This interest is not advanced by limiting marriage only to heterosexual couples. Men and women will continue to marry and produce offspring even in the presence of legally recognized same-sex unions.

The state, ideally, wants children raised in the households with the human beings that created them.

Legally recognizing same-sex unions does not hinder this interest. Children born to one member of a lesbian couple will be raised in the household in which they were created. Children adopted by two men won't be raised in the household in which they were created, but then that wasn't going to happen regardless (given they were put up for adoption). Unless you're arguing that legally recognizing same-sex unions would cause more children to be put up for adoption by straight couples.

But the point is that no individual is being denied the right to marry.

True. However, homosexuals are denied the right to marry someone to whom they are sexually attracted.

Every individual has the same restrictions placed on him.

The restrictions are the same for everyone, but their meaning and significance varies by virtue of the individual to whom they're applied. Consider the restriction, "Only white people can eat at my restaurant". Even when this restriction is equally applied to all people, it has a disproportionately negative effect on anyone who is not, in fact, white.

John,
"So if we can find the incest or polygamy gene, then those would be fine?"

Well, scientifically, you wouldn't find incest or likely polygamy genes because these are learned behaviours and that has been proven again and again.

"Honestly when you view humans through a purely biological lens, what's the difference between an orientation and a preference?"

I don't actually view humans purely through a biological lens - thus the two definitions - orientation and preference. These are products of nature and nurture, which every human is a combination of.

"If someone is turned on by his sister, that happens in his brain (and loins) the same as it does for someone who is gay or straight or whatever."

If someone is turned on by his sister, it likely doesn't change anything else (ie. mannerisms) about him. With gay people it does, because their core sexuality is something essential about them.

(And by the by, it's more than a little offensive to compare incest with homosexuality - whether theoretically or otherwise.)

"Who are we to say that you can only marry those to whom your genes predispose you?"

I'm not sure, but a number folks on this board seem quite comfortable doing so.

Buddyglass,

>>”This interest is not advanced by limiting marriage only to heterosexual couples. Men and women will continue to marry and produce offspring even in the presence of legally recognized same-sex unions.

Sure they will. But, because it takes a man and a woman to reproduce, the state doesn’t have a stake in same sex marriage.

>>”Men and women will continue to marry and produce offspring even in the presence of legally recognized same-sex unions.”

Sure they will. It’s just that the state has no interest in legalizing same sex marriage. The state has no interest in two homosexuals living a happy “married” life. Zero.

>>” homosexuals are denied the right to marry someone to whom they are sexually attracted.”

The state has no interest in who is sexually attracted to whom. The state has an interest in a man and a woman producing children and it wants them to be in the most stable environment possible. Hence, creating the most productive and civil society.


Jane,

I do in fact know several gay people (including my own sister) and have met several content ex-gays. While many ex-gays tend to become so because of their faith, which is undoubtedly an influence, there are accounts of the pychotherapy involved in the process and many (thousands) testimonies of long term success. If you want to study the "ex-gay movement" from an unbiased perspective, I would recommend the ethnographic book entitled "Straight to Jesus" by Tanya Erzen based on her university thesis. Dr. Erzen is NOT a Christian and approaches the subject in an unbiased way which I have heard commended by many gays and Christians alike. If you want to hear about the same idea from a Christian perspective, I would recommend the book "Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would" by Chad Thompson, an ex-gay Christian who may very well be biased, but is also extremely compassionate and respectful.

As for the actual data, I am very familiar with the scientific research that has been done in this area and am sorry to say that it is not at all conclusive. Even the authors of the published papers have admitted that the "gayness is genetic" conclusion does not follow from their work (I can offer specific citations when I get home in a few hours). The most compelling research done was to study the brains of dead men and compare differences between those who were homosexual and those who were heterosexual. The amygdala on one side of the brain was seen to be more widespread in the homosexual males than the heterosexual males (which is also the case with heterosexual females)- an implication of correlation.

So now to the problems with the research: first of all it has been unable to be repeated and abtain statistically significant results. As repeatability is a bedrock of science, this seems to be a major downfall. Another issue is that while this shows a distinct correlation, it concludes nothing about which is the cause and which is the effect.

A quick google search on "neuroplasticity" shows us that our brains change their physical structure in response to external or environmental stimuli, as well as decisions we make. There are many well-documented, repeatable examples of this. It is therefore just as possible that the physical brain changes structure in result to the same external stimuli or decisions which make someone homosexual (implying that it is not in fact genetic).

Regardless of the research, I think anyone who honestly studies this would say that homosexuality is a caused by a complex combination of genetic, natal, and post-natal environmental factors. I think this is a red herring though. Even if homosexuality has a psychological cause which points to environmental factors, it is still NOT a choice. I don't see why this makes a difference though.

Respectfully,
Austin

KWM - I beg to differ, the state does have an interest in more than creating stable environments for children (many gay marriages already do that).

What the state does have an interest in is making a bunch of right wing homophobes more comfortable with themselves and their mythological religious beliefs.

John T. Meche III: I never said that the only criterion for marriage was that "X loves Y." Read my comments and that should become apparent.

KWM: You said:
"Precisely. [having children without marriage] is exactly what the state wishes to avoid."

Homosexual marriage helps alleviate this problem. What's your point?

Sure they will. But, because it takes a man and a woman to reproduce, the state doesn’t have a stake in same sex marriage.

Two thoughts here. First, reproduction needn't be the only state interest in recognizing the institution of marriage. It might recognize same-sex unions in an effort to promote them, thereby encouraging more responsible sexual behavior among homosexuals.

Second, even if granting legal recognition to same-sex unions advances no state interest, if the prohibition thereof also fails to advance a state interest then what is the rationale for denying legal recognition?

The test of "compelling state interest" is typically used to test whether the state may reduce rights. That the state has no compelling interest in recognizing same-sex unions doesn't necessarily argue against legal recognition. However, that the state has no compelling interest in prohibiting them does argue in favor of granting recognition.

The state has an interest in a man and a woman producing children and it wants them to be in the most stable environment possible.

Agreed. If granting legal recognition to same-sex unions does nothing to hinder this legitimate state interest then why should they be prohibited?

Jane,

>>”…the state does have an interest in more than creating stable environments for children (many gay marriages already do that).”

So what? They don’t create children naturally. Two sisters could raise a third (now deceased) sister’s child great - with love and stability. That doesn’t mean the state should marry sisters. The state takes interest in a man and a woman marrying because they create children. The state takes interest in those children being raised by a committed mother and father. There's just nothing more to it, really.

>>”What the state does have an interest in is making a bunch of right wing homophobes more comfortable with themselves and their mythological religious beliefs.”

I don’t know why you’re brining religion into this. But I disagree. The state doesn’t have an interest in this.

Is name calling generally part of same sex marriage tolerance or is that specific to you?

Dan,

>>”Homosexual marriage helps alleviate this problem. What's your point?”

No it doesn’t. Gays can adopt currently, and according to everyone can raise children just fine. Besides, just because a set of people can adopt, it doesn’t mean the state should take a stake in their being able to marry. i.e. a case where two sisters adopt a third sister’s (now deceased) child just to cite one example. It doesn’t follow that sisters should be able to marry.

Also, you chose to ignore my previous question:

>>”We don't [have] legalized polygamy because, for whatever reason, we've decided that it isn't the kind of union we want to promote.”

So that’s that? Just because? Why do you say so?

KWM

"No it doesn’t. Gays can adopt currently, and according to everyone can raise children just fine"

I respectfully disagree with this point on the grounds that a child's conscience may suffer damage as a result of being brought up in an environment conducive to such injury. That in addition to being deprived of upbringing in a gender-balanced environment may lead to problems not always outwardly apparent. I see no good reason to promote such dysfunction in society and plenty of reason to work hard to avoid it.

Hi Louis,

I’m not making the claim that homosexuals can raise children “just fine” or more importantly, that they can raise children as well as heterosexual, monogamous, married couples. I was, however, brushing it aside so as to eliminate the point. As it wasn’t essential to what I was addressing.

I appreciate you view.

buddyglass

"Second, even if granting legal recognition to same-sex unions advances no state interest, if the prohibition thereof also fails to advance a state interest then what is the rationale for denying legal recognition?"

It is not in a state's best interest to enshrine lies into law. To claim that same sex unions are the same thing as marriage is to do so and thereby setting a precedent for enshrining other lies into law. Taking it one step further, to do so on the grounds of another lie, that this is an issue of a group not being granted the same rights as another group and thereby denying such a group a civil right, is to make a public statement to society en-large that lying as a means to an end that is itself a lie, has the seal of approval given to it by the state. The appropriate response on the part of a reasonable public in such a case is to withdraw the level of respect and confidence they had for the government prior to implementation of such laws. In my view, it is time to seriously consider replacing such a government with a better one.

It has been true for quite a long time that our society has been willing to tolerate homosexuality. Even before the legal sanctions against homosexuality were lifted, very few legal jurisdictions had any interest in arresting and prosecuting just any homosexual.

What our society is not interested in doing, even now I think, is to say that homosexuality is a matter of moral indifference.

There are plenty of things that are not a matter of moral indifference that I'm in favor of tolerating. For example, it is definitely morally wrong to lie to one's mother, but I'm opposed to any law that criminalizes lying to one's mother. We just have to tolerate that act.

Now homosexuals gain very little, if anything, from the institution of homosexual marriage. Civil unions were already all they need. Everything except this: acceptance of homosexuality as a matter of moral indifference.

Civil unions amount to the state's declaration that homosexuals should not be made to suffer in any legally formal way for their sin. Homosexuals are to be tolerated to the fullest extent possible.

Homosexual marriage amounts to the state's declaration that homosexual unions should be celebrated as just as good as traditional unions. That is, homosexuality is a matter of moral indifference.

Of course, homosexuals will sue churches that refuse to perform homosexual marriages while continuing to perform traditional marriages. We are being told right now that the new laws won't allow that.

But of course, of course, that is a lie. And it's not even a very clever one.

Even though many laws will be written in that way, one of the first things that will be challenged in court by the pro-homosexual lobby are those very provisions. And naturally, the courts will act with their usual moral blindness and agree.

WisdomLover

"Homosexual marriage amounts to the state's declaration that homosexual unions should be celebrated as just as good as traditional unions. That is, homosexuality is a matter of moral indifference."

When you codify something into law, it is not only a deceleration, but you place the whole weight of governmental power behind it with all the ramifications of enforcement. It creates a mechanism that can be used to punish those who expresses a moral objection to such unions. This positions the government to be able to silence anyone who disagrees, through the misuse of power. If I understand that last sentence as being moral neutrality, it is also a lie being promoted that sexual acts are morally neutral. Is that the kind of message we want to send our young people today? Do we want to send the message that as long as they have the power to get away with it, lying is just fine?

To answer Malebranche's earlier question on valid arguments:

1) We should extend the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of civil marriage only to individuals who are bound by the union of marriage.
2) Marriage is, by nature, a union between a man and a woman.
3) A man is not a woman.
4) Therefore marriage is, by nature, not a union between: a man and a man; or a woman and a woman.
5) Therefore, we should not extend the rights in 1) to individuals bound by a same-sex union.

Now Malebranche did state this exercise will "...focus the conversation on the premises." Correct me if I'm mistaken, I don't think anyone will have a problem with 1) or 3). The particular premise I expect to draw the most fire is 2), which is the definition of marriage.

This brings us right back to Amy's main point here. We're arguing about definitions, not rights.

Oddly, sexual orientation has nothing to do with the nature of marriage. If it is a union between one man and one woman, then the sexual orientation of the participants is not relevant. The state should not care whether the woman is straight or a lesbian, or whether the man is gay or straight. The categories by which we assess sexual orientation may be interesting--the stuff of gossip to some--but they don't have anything to do with whether one is a man or a woman. That's why gay men can never be lesbians.

Granted, this is no consolation to gays and lesbians who want their same-sex relationships to be declared "marriages." But most relationships--even those that are deeply meaningful to people--are non-marital. So, for example, a group of cloistered nuns are "not married," but they are no less committed to the Christ they serve. What gay relationships lack is what has always been essential to marriage: bodily union consummated in reproductive-type acts. Even sterile couples can seal their union with that sort of unity. Same-sex couples, sadly, cannot. Without getting too graphic, the genetalia of gays, just like straights, are ordered toward to generative acts. Same-sex couples--let alone individuals--cannot engage in generative acts. But that, of course, does not mean that gays are not sincere about or emotionally attached to those they love. No one doubts that. Nevertheless, their unions are by their nature non-marital. No matter how hard you try, you can't change that. This is why people who claim to have changed their gender are not telling the truth. Carving up a man to make him look like a woman no more makes him a woman than surgically attaching a fin to my back and creating a prosthetic blow hole on my head makes me a dolphin.

Louis-

Understand that I do not view homosexuality as a matter of moral indifference. The Bible describes it as a sin.

I'm just saying that the reason the homosexual lobby wants homosexual marriage is that homosexual marriage says, loud and clear, that society views homosexuality as a natter of moral indifference.

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