A friend of a friend posted the following picture on Facebook recently and it elicited a rather rich and lively discussion.
The graphic and related articles attempt to convey the absurdity and hypocrisy of states which allow marriage between close cousins (like gypsies) which poses a host of health risks, but disallow same sex marriage which they assume is sterile and safe.
Well here’s my take.
The definition of marriage is predicated on a biological reality. It predates government and as such any law designed to arbitrarily redefine it based on subjective premises (ie. what is being referred to as “love”) are about like passing a measure to redefine words we simply don’t like.
There is a reason blood tests were required for obtaining a marriage certificate and why first cousins are barred from marrying in certain states. That is the biological possibility of children, the only public reason for marriage existing as a separate institution and not simply another contract between private parties.
Same sex “marriage” should be opposed for the same reason that we should oppose marriage between close relatives and multiple partners (bigamy). It is self-destructive for the consenting adults involved and it is harmful to any offspring that may result or be obtained (in the case of SSM).
The essential public purpose of marriage is to bind parents to children and through that to preemptively protect their rights. Specifically, their right to enjoy the company of both of their biological parents.
At this point many same sex marriage proponents like to argue that the institution of marriage is in a dismal state of repair as it is. That most marriages today don’t last.
Yes, it is true that the state of marriage today isn’t very strong, but this should be a reason to seek to strengthen marriage, not weaken it further.
Laws serve to both punish undesirable behavior as well as promote desirable behavior. Yes, we were sold no-fault divorce for the same reason you mentioned with the additional guarantee that it would have no further ill effects on marriage in general. It didn’t. What it did do is lead to an unprecedented rise in divorce rates overall and a further expansion of government into private lives through the family court system .
Same sex marriage has been shown in countries where it is legal to also expand government intrusion into private lives. The main goal of legalization of SSM is to make the public affirm homosexuality. We have good evidence for this from two primary sources. From countries where it is legal and only ~2% of the homosexual population (which, itself, is only about 3-4% of any given population) decide to get married. And from the writings of GLBT leaders themselves.
Same sex marriage has also been shown to make an already unhealthy lifestyle even more unhealthy. Statistics show that the majority of homosexuals who do decide to get married don’t use protection since they figure they are in the clear with regard to diseases like AIDS, but they end up putting themselves at greater risk for the more “common” health problems. Additionally, since promiscuity is a prominent part of the homosexual lifestyle (again, taken from their leaders’ words), it would be wrong for us to think that same sex marriage resembles natural marriage in anything other than a superficial and fleeting feeling of love.
We should also point out that homosexuals are not prevented from forming unions and calling them marriages today. They can have civil ceremonies, draw up contracts, live together, etc. What they cannot do right now, without redefining marriage, is force others to affirm their union as normative or prevent people like myself from speaking out against it.
Redefining marriage would be a violation of the public trust.
The benefits of marriage are granted by the public in order to encourage stable marriage relationships. When we treat marriage as if it were merely a registry of friends with benefits it both weakens marriage and encourages abuse of it at the same time. It’s weakened by people not taking it seriously and it is abused by people enjoying the benefits afforded to marriage relationships with no intention of providing the taxpayers (society in general) any return on their investment. Sure, there are free riders in any system but it is generally a bad economic policy to encourage and expand free riders.
So among other things I would say that SSM should be opposed simply because it is a poor public investment. It offers no returns and costs the money and freedom of other 97% of the country.
Many proponents of redefining marriage seem to assume this is merely a religious argument. I’m not sure why that is since the data available to us holds no religious convictions of its own.
Both the data of what most marriages enjoy (higher levels of self-reported happiness and satisfaction, not to mention financial stability, etc.), as well as what the ideal public purpose of marriage is (afterall, laws shape what society values and doesn’t value). Not to mention the plethora of studies that are coming out about the benefits children have by enjoying the company of both their biological parents.
In the end, there is simply no good reason, and a host of bad ones, to redefine marriage just to make a small group of people feel better about their chosen lifestyles.
What I find disheartening is that liberals almost unilaterally fail to deal with any of the available evidence on this subject and, instead, stick to faulty arguments and rhetoric. It seems the only strategy a liberal has is to characterize their opponent as bigoted, hateful, etc. as if someone couldn’t possibly have a principled objection to a demonstrably unhealthy lifestyle like homosexuality. In order to make any progress on this issue we, as a nation, need to seriously consider stopping the hate, on both sides, and start the debate.