A year ago, I participated in a debate on SSM at DDO. It turns out that this debate compellingly converted a pro-SSM supporter, which really surprised me. It reassures me that there are still people out there that are willing to go wherever the evidence leads. Too often will people read into a debate their “intuitive” presuppositions and therefore end up rejecting the argument regardless of how compelling it was. Most people who read this argument will think that something must be wrong with it but fail to provide a rational counter-response. For example, I had two friends on AIM who ended up raging at me. Their best response? I’m a homophobic ignoramus that lacks empathy. Ended up getting unfriended by them. Arguments don’t have sexual parts and they certainly don’t depend on what your sexual orientation is. Whether you’re gay or straight, the earth is still round and gravity is real. Similarly, whether you’re gay or straight, SSM is still not marriage no matter how much it pains you.
Straightness is order, is union, is simple, is complimentary, is godly, is good, and is forever. Everything else is crooked. A straight line does not get to be a crooked line, nor does it get to be an orientation. It is a way of being – both in heart, mind, body, and soul. If a straight line is not straight all the way, it is not straight. Similarly, if you are straight in orientation but support crooked lines in your mind, you are not a straight line. Crookedness has no real boundaries, so choose your side carefully. What you chose shall define what you are and what you are shall put you against that which is straight or crooked. Those who support straightness align themselves with God, the angels, christians and their straight lovers. On the other hand, those who support crookedness align themselves with Satan, liberals, sinners, and their prostitutes. Where do you stand?
I stand straight with God.
(Guest Post by Tim Hsiao. Tim is a philosophy major at the Florida State University)
Marriage is an institution grounded in human nature that is primarily centered around responsible procreation and child-rearing. It is for this reason that the state confers legal and economic benefits upon married couples, for it recognizes that both procreation and child-rearing are difficult tasks that require considerable amounts of time and labor. Since responsible procreation and child-rearing are essential to the advancement of society, the state has a vested interest in protecting a stable relationship under which this can take place. The state therefore ought to give special recognition to heterosexual unions, for they function as a precondition to society. Indeed, had there only been one gender, it seems unlikely that the institution of marriage would have ever arisen to begin with. Relationships which do not have procreation as their core do not deserve such recognition, for they are not foundational to society. The recognition of homosexual unions as marriages would therefore be unjustly denying the special social value of heterosexual unions. Moreover, since a healthy marriage culture is necessary for the flourishing of a just society, the legal recognition of the natural institution of marriage is a proper function of government. This counts against the libertarian idea that marriage should be privatized.
Perhaps the most common argument against the traditional understanding of marriage is that it would violate the rights of homosexual couples via some legal or moral principle, such as the 14th Amendment, due to the fact that it discriminates against such relationships. This is mistaken. Mere discrimination is morally neutral – it is not immoral for a prospective employer to discriminate against a lazy job candidate on the basis that he lacks the skills that are required of him. Discrimination is only unjust when someone is denied something they have a right to on the basis of criteria that are irrelevant to what is being denied. And in order to know what is irrelevant, we must first know what is relevant. The same is true of rights. We must first know what we are talking about before we can determine who has a right to it. The main issue in the same-sex marriage debate is thus over the nature of marriage. Rights derive their very content from the thing that they are grounded in, such that it is necessary to first determine what the latter is before we talk about the former. It is question-begging to argue for a revisionist conception of marriage on the basis that it recognizes the right of same-sex couples to marry, for this presupposes that they have such a right to begin with. This, however, is precisely what opponents of same-sex marriage deny.
So before we can claim that the traditional conception of marriage would discriminate against homosexual couples, we must first settle the issue of what marriage is. If the nature of marriage excludes same-sex couples to begin with, then no discrimination would be taking place, for they are not being unjustly denied something they deserve because they do not deserve it to begin with. It’s up to advocates of same-sex marriage to argue for their account of marriage instead of just assuming it.
What About Sterile and Interracial Couples?
It may be objected that the traditional conception of marriage prevents sterile heterosexual couples from marrying due to the fact that they are unable to procreate. But this objection fails to understand the argument. The traditional conception of marriage is based on human nature as being a type of relationship under which procreation is intrinsically possible, and this remains true even if the possibility is never realized due to some defect.. A heterosexual union is always oriented toward procreation, even if it doesn’t happen due to some defect. Indeed, we refer to such couples as sterile precisely because they lack the ability to realize a capacity that is grounded in the nature of their relationship. We recognize that there exists a privation of what should be there. By contrast, homosexual relationships are such that procreation is impossible in principle. Their inability to procreate is not merely accidental to the type of their relationship, but essential. Thus, this objection confuses acts that are reproductive in type with acts that are reproductive in effect.
Neither will comparing same-sex marriage to interracial marriage work, for the analogy falsely assumes that there is no relevant difference between race and gender. While race is irrelevant to procreative ability, gender certainly isn’t. A heterosexual interracial marriage is still a procreative type union and thus falls under the traditional conception of marriage. This is precisely why bans on interracial marriage were unjust. Gender, however, is a different story. A homosexual union is intrinsically incapable of procreation and thus would be excluded from counting as a marriage. Therefore, the state has a principled reason to exclude couples from entering into marital relationships on the basis of their gender, but not race.
Love Is Not All You Need
It’s sometimes said that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry because marriage is about love. But this is all too vague. The million-dollar question that needs to be asked is “What is love?” Unless one defines what love is, there is a risk of begging the question. By love do we mean merely an intense emotional feeling, or do we mean the state of satisfaction that flows from living properly? While the latter is how love was traditionally viewed, its grounding in human nature excludes same-sex marriage and thus cannot be an option for its proponents. Hence one will have to opt with something like the former. But viewing love as an intense emotional feeling is too broad, for the state would have no reason to exclude any types of relationships as long as those involved “love” each other in this regard. Friendships, business partnerships, incest, polygamy, self-marriage, group marriage, and virtually any sort of arrangement (One can be creative!) would not be excluded under this view. But obviously this is mistaken. Indeed, if one’s view logically implies the conclusion that the state is obligated to legally recognize incest and polygamy, then that implication alone is a sufficient reason to reject it. Such a conception of marriage renders inexplicable why the institution exists in the first place and why the state is so interested in it.
In a recent ruling, a three judge panel in California declared “Gay Marriage” as constitutional, with Judge Stephen Reinhardt saying,
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for ‘laws of this sort.”
It’s ironic to see judges appeal to the Constitution without any knowledge of the natural law that brought it about, in particular that which was espoused by John Locke. In a country that has lost its metaphysical principles, it’s no surprise to see them go on about human dignity, freedom, and rights without understanding what grounds those rights. If they had knowledge on these matters, they’d realize that the very thing which grounds such rights itself rules out any so called right to gay marriage. America’s forefathers were primarily influenced by thought from the likes of John Locke who was by no means a proponent of gay marriage. Unfortunately, judges prefer to ignore the foundation of the ideas that brought about our Constitution in order to force in them an intellectually shallow ideology that is being emotionally forced into law by certain activists.
Contrary to what this judge claims, it does not lessen the value of that person as an individual as both would retain the right to marry the opposite sex regardless of your orientation. However, as I would argue, it justly discriminates against certain kinds of relationships in the same way that our bathrooms discriminate between male and females. I’d only argue that in this case, heterosexual couples posses a special social value in that their natures are such that they’re for procreation. This is important because it is this relationship that grounds the existence and flourishing of society itself, not homosexuality. If a person is incapable of accepting or respectfully disagreeing with the idea that not all relationships are equal, then perhaps we should allow polygamy, beastiality, pedophilia, incest, and all other sexual relationships as marriage as well. So before we get into who has what rights, we need to understand what marriage is.
Metaphysical arguments are lacking in these discussions. We need philosophers, not sexualizers.