Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

February 22, 2009

A Good Compromise On Gay Marriage ? Not So Much

by Doug Mataconis

David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch, who come from totally opposite sides of the same-sex marriage debate, offer this compromise in a New York Times Op-Ed this morning:

It would work like this: Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of these changes would be enacted in the same bill.

(…)

Linking federal civil unions to guarantees of religious freedom seems a natural way to give the two sides something they would greatly value while heading off a long-term, take-no-prisoners conflict. That should appeal to cooler heads on both sides, and it also ought to appeal to President Obama, who opposes same-sex marriage but has endorsed federal civil unions. A successful template already exists: laws that protect religious conscience in matters pertaining to abortion. These statutes allow Catholic hospitals to refuse to provide abortions, for example. If religious exemptions can be made to work for as vexed a moral issue as abortion, same-sex marriage should be manageable, once reasonable people of good will put their heads together.

The first problem with this proposal seems to be rather self evident to me. Namely, where in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution is Congress granted the power to regulate marriage ? Some might argue that Section 5 of the 14th Amendment creates such a power to the extent that marriage is a “privilege or immunity” contemplated by Section 1 of that Amendment, or that depriving homosexuals of the rights and benefits of civil marriage constitutes a deprivation of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; or that it denies them equal protection of the laws. However, that argument would run head-on into the fact that there’s little evidence that the framers of the 14th Amendment intended it to be such complete a usurpation of state’s rights as this argument would contemplate. Moreover, such an interpretation of the 14th Amendment would effective mean that the 10th Amendment had been repealed by it’s ratification; and there’s no evidence that was the intention back in 1865.

So, at the very least, we’ve got a significant federalism problem that shouldn’t be dismissed.

A second problem with this proposal is that it continues with the idea of creating two separate statuses. What, exactly, would be the difference between marriage and these civil unions ? Unless the differences are in name only, then we’re not talking about real equality. Would heterosexual couples be able to enter into these civil unions instead of marriages ? If not, then you really are creating two different classes of people. And, finally, what would be the rules regarding dissolution of a civil union ? Would it be easier ? Harder ? Would traditional domestic relations law apply ?

If the only difference between “marriage” and “civil union” is the name, then what’s the point of having two different institutions ?

A final problem with this proposal is that it raises what is clearly a straw man in this whole debate. Except in the mind of the truly wacko, the idea that same-sex marriage poses any serious threat to religious liberty. Modern marriage is a civil institution governed by the state, so long as that is the case then the state has no right to discriminate against people when it decides who is and is not entitled to claim the benefits of that relationship. Churches, on the other hand, are free under the First Amendment to confer their religious marriages under any circumstances they deem fit.

The problem, of course, is that marriage today is still a hybrid institution.

Is it a civil relationship governed by the state, or a religious one governed by the laws of whatever deity(ies) you happen to worship, or, is it a combination of both ?

The solution, as I’ve mentioned before, seems rather obvious:

If that’s what you believe a marriage is, the union of a man and woman before God and man, then what does the state have to do with so fundamentally a religious institution ? Why does the state need to recognize it at all and why does it need to grant that religious institution preferntial benefits in the form of tax breaks and a protected legal status that is not available to unmarried persons ?

Kellie and I were married in the Roman Catholic Church, which has requirements for marriage that exceed, and are different from, those of civil marriage. That wedding ceremony is what made the marriage official in the eyes of God, not the little piece of paper we got from Cuyahoga County, Ohio the day before.

Here’s my proposal. Get rid of civil marriage licenses entirely. Let people decide for themselves what they believe about marriage and let them, if they wish solemnize that union in a church of their choice. We are hundreds of years past the day where the state was involved in religious affairs, it doesn’t need to be involved in this matter either.

It’s really not as radical an idea as you might think. Contrary to what some of the “traditional marriage” advocates would have you think, state involvement in marriage is a relatively recent thing historically:

For 16 centuries, Christianity also defined the validity of a marriage on the basis of a couple’s wishes. If two people claimed they had exchanged marital vows — even out alone by the haystack — the Catholic Church accepted that they were validly married.

In 1215, the church decreed that a “licit” marriage must take place in church. But people who married illictly had the same rights and obligations as a couple married in church: their children were legitimate; the wife had the same inheritance rights; the couple was subject to the same prohibitions against divorce.

Not until the 16th century did European states begin to require that marriages be performed under legal auspices. In part, this was an attempt to prevent unions between young adults whose parents opposed their match.

That practice carried over to the American colonies and, later, the United States, where marriage licensing laws quickly became a way to prevent socially disapproved inter-racial marriages and to limit the rights of women:

By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from marrying blacks, “mulattos,” Japanese, Chinese, Indians, “Mongolians,” “Malays” or Filipinos. Twelve states would not issue a marriage license if one partner was a drunk, an addict or a “mental defect.” Eighteen states set barriers to remarriage after divorce.

So, the idea that the marriage must be something defined by the state isn’t as historically grounded as some would have you think.

And what about the supposed threat to religious liberty if homosexuals were allow to declare themselves married ?

Well, it ain’t there:

[N]obody is saying that your church has to approve or consecrate same-sex unions. Heck, you could have a religion that said people with different hair colors can’t get married if you wanted to, just don’t make it the business of the state to codify your religious prejudices.

Exactly.

Blankehorn and Rauch make a good effort at trying to find some middle ground on this issue. And that alone I take as a sign that the rigid opposition to same-sex unions that we’ve seen in the past is melting away far quicker than anyone anticipated (just look at Utah for more proof of that assertion). As a practical, Constitutional solution to the problem, though, I’m afraid they’ve fallen short.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

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  • silvermine

    I agree that it’s rather weird that a religious ceremony/institution is regulated by the government. I always say it’s as if you had to apply for a license to bar mitzva. Or once you had bar mitzvaed, you’d be allowed to drive, drink, and do everything an adult in the US is allowed to do. Obviously, in that case, we’re fine with keeping those two things seperate.

    In the case of marriage, let marriage be unregulated except by religious institutions. Keep laws preventing abuse of children and such.

    However, also keep civil unions. They do serve a need. They allow for all sorts of additional privilages and responsibilities to each other. But I think that sort of relationship should be open not just to married people. The example most gay people will mention is the right to have power of attorney in cases of medical issues. Well, why reserve that only for the married? You can actually get most of those rights seperately, but for a civil union they all come in a handy package. What about old spinster aunts (or widows)? Why couldn’t they live together to share money and help each other out? Or unmarried siblings who share space in an obviously completely non-marital way?

    I just think it’s a states right issue, and on top of that it’s the secular legal world and the religious world entangled.

    Oh, but then, I also think people should write up their own marriage contracts individually. That way you wouldn’t have the issue of your relationship being changed by changing states, or retroactively through changing laws!

  • http://knappster.blogspot.com Thomas L. Knapp

    “However, that argument would run head-on into the fact that there’s little evidence that the framers of the 14th Amendment intended it to be such complete a usurpation of state’s rights as this argument would contemplate. Moreover, such an interpretation of the 14th Amendment would effective mean that the 10th Amendment had been repealed by it’s ratification; and there’s no evidence that was the intention back in 1865.”

    Except, of course, for the numerous statements of the 14th Amendment’s supporters that that’s what they were trying to do, and the statements of the 14th Amendment’s opponents that they opposed it because that’s what would happen.

    Other than that, no evidence at all.

  • BroughtUpLiberal

    Marriage is an *institution.* It’s very foundation is the recognition and protection of unions exclusively between a man and a woman.

    All US citizens, including people with same sex attraction, have the same rights as everyone else to participate in the institution of marriage (ie, a union exlusively between a man and a woman), regardless of their religion or lack thereof.

    Conversely, neither the judiciary, lawmakers or special interest groups (such as people with same sex attraction) have a right to redefine an anthropological and social *institution* such as marriage over which they have absolutely no authority. They may only affect the laws of the land pertaining to the *existing* definition of the institution.

    Marriage is not a govt agency, an organization or corporation. Those individuals with the actual power over the institution understand that the definition *as it stands,exclusive of same sex couples* is at the very core of the institution’s value to ALL citizens.

    There are no “legal” compromises to be made that would redefine the institution to include same sex couple without destroying the institution itself.

    Opposition to the same-sex attraction special interest group efforts to [illegally] affect such a redefinition is intrinsic to the institution.

    Far from “melting away,” opposition to “same sex marriage” is gaining an activist momentum of it’s own. The numbers of people willing to *actively* oppose the special interest group efforts is now much larger than the “same sex marriage” activists community — and continues to grow. growing. And the fastest growing segment of preserve marriage activism is among the non-religious.

    BroughtUpLiberal

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    There are no “legal” compromises to be made that would redefine the institution to include same sex couple without destroying the institution itself.

    Throughout the world there are cultures that permit polygamy, yet the marriages as “one woman, one man” seems to prevail in those societies as well.

    I find your argument to be quite specious. If the state is going to define what constitutes a family (and all these arguments are really about that), and use that definition to discriminate on behalf of ‘legitimate’ families, then it will face this sort of movement to legitimize the sort of family arrangements a small minority want to engage in.

    The proper solution is the old Catholic approach, if you claim to be a family, the state should extend all the tax benefits, inheritance benefits, implied powers of attorney, etc that is confers currently on families consisting of “one man, one woman”.

    OF course, the opponents of gay marriage are not, in my expeirence, interested in such a live and let live policy. Their goal is one of social engineering, to stamp out these family structures that are anathema to them.

    Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t participate in one. Full stop.

  • WeTheSheeple

    I guess ‘BroughtUpLiberal’ was also brought up ignorant of the law and our system of government. While marriage is a religious institution in this country, it is ALSO a civil contract regulated by the government. Of course you don’t like it, but that is the reality. There are currently 2 states that allow same-sex couples to marry (MA & CT), there are also 4 other states that recognize marriages between same-sex couples performed out of state or country (RI, NY, WY, NM).

    Therefore, any statement that marriage is only between a man & a woman is simply factually incorrect. You may not agree with them, but exist and are legally recognized by those 6 states. Deal with it.

    If opposition to marriage equality for homosexuals is supposedly growing every day, then why have 3 more states (ME, VT, NH) introduced marriage equality legislation just this year? Seems to me you know that in spite of winning 1 battle in California, you realize you’re losing the overall war.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    Wethesheeple,

    Laws forbidding certain social arrangements tend to come into force when the opponents of such social arrangments are
    a) politically dominant
    b) getting less dominant with each passing year

    When whites nearly universally though of blacks as subhuman, there were few if any laws we would label as Jim Crow laws. The racists instituted Jim Crow only when it became clear that blacks were becoming propserous after emancipation – especially with the rise of a proto-middle class.

    In 50 years, nobody is going to care outside a few fringe nut-jobs. And humanity will still be around, that is unless the Coming of the Great White Handkerchief occurs first.

  • Patrick

    The difficulty with BroughtUpLiberal is that s/he knows things absolutely – it’s the same type of fanaticism that drove Nazism, McCarthyism and the Salem witch trials. Thus, the issue in BroughtUpLiberal’s mind is not that actually present in the real world (the issue of whether or not it’s okay to deny gay people the basic civil rights that everyone else has), but rather the preservation of some made-up thing BroughtUpLiberal refers to as “marriage”, which is vastly different from marriage in the real world. BroughtUpLiberal even denies the existence of gay people, referring to them as people with same-sex attraction. I would guess that in BroughtUpLiberal’s mind, we are ultimately just a bunch of breeding machines, and the emotional and spiritual aspects of marriage are of no importance next to the goal of “monogamously reproduce, monogamously reproduce”! So BroughtUpLiberal makes up a threat to a made-up institution of marriage, and gets to define “marriage” as whatever s/he says it is. This is very much like Sen. McCarthy, who made up a threat from Communism against “American values” – the “American values” were whatever he said they were. People went along with him because no one wants to be labelled as being against “American values”.
    The comparisons between those who oppose gay marriage and the Nazis have been made many times, as have the comparisons with those who opposed equal civil rights for blacks. I don’t see the McCarthyism comparison as much, though – does anyone else think it holds water?

  • BroughtUpLiberal

    People with same sex attraction have the exact same civil rights to marriage as do *all* citizens. The point is their civil rights are not at issue — there is no discrimination as to their access to marriage as the institution is defined. If so, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to redefine it to include their special interest!

    The activists advocating for “same sex marriage” represent a *special interest group*, not a “CLASS” of people.

    Blacks (a race — a class of people) WERE denied their civil rights. There are *many* activists who were active in the civil rights movement who oppose this current movement to redefine the institution of marriage to accommodate the goals of a special interest group. There is no comparison between civil rights and special interest group demands for the redefinition of an institution they want to claim AS THEIR OWN. It is not theirs (or mine) to claim unless they choose to marry a member of the opposite sex.

    The more the radical LGBT community activists disrespectfully keep trying to annex “civil rights” as the battlecry by which to achieve their special interest goals, the more will be the activism against them. The institution of marriage, defined as between a man and a woman, is significantly more important to the well being and future of the country (the world, actually) than the special interest demand for it’s demise.

    I didn’t make the definition of the institution of marriage up (see Doug’s original post above.)At it’s core is the protection of the naturally reproducing family unit. When same sex couples can be both monogamous AND REPRODUCE NATURALLY (emphasis on NATURALLY), then they’ll be in a position to legitimately challenge a redefinition of the institution.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    People with same sex attraction have the exact same civil rights to marriage as do *all* citizens.

    This is demonstrably false. If a member of a gay couple is seriously injured and hospitalized, under the law his lover does not by default take over making decisions concerning his medical care.

    You may claim that that the state need not recognize that a long term lover is anything more than a friend. If so, I would love to hear you assert that common law marriage which is nothing more than what you get when a man and woman shack up for a long time is any different from when a man and another man shacks up.

    If the law permits a man to make medical decisions for his common law wife, while denying another man the power to make such decisions for his lover of many years, then the law is being an ass.

    The problem, again, is that the state uses marriage to define family units and then allows members of family units certain benefits denied to ones who are not members of family units.

    And, incidentally, brought up liberal, according to your rubric, a sterile man or woman should not be permitted to enjoy the benefits of marriage, since they are incapable of reproducing naturally. So, if I agitated for a law that denied the legitimacy of marriages where on member of the breeding pair was sterile, would you be on the barricades with me?

    Personally, I don’t care. If you want to declare yourself, a woman, her sister and some guy you met on the internet last week to be a family, I wouldn’t gainsay it. It’s none of my business.

  • DMG

    BroughtUpLiberal:

    For what reason would homosexuals not constitute a “class” of people? One can be born homosexual just as one can be born black (check the science if you disagree – it’s conclusively not a “lifestyle choice”), so I’m not sure on what basis you’re making the distinction.

    Granted, advocates of same-sex rights who are not themselves homosexual would not constitute a class, but neither would the white advocates of civil rights in the historical, racial civil rights battles you reference. It seems you’re avoiding comparing apples to apples in order to confuse the issue.

    Also, it seems to me that you are begging the question: by assuming that “the union of one man with one woman” is the only true definition of marriage (and marriage rights), in order to prove this same notion. If you start from the definition of marriage as “the union of one person with his or her chosen partner”, the distinction you’re relying on disappears, and the argument collapses. In that instance, homosexuals ARE given different rights – they are not able to marry their chosen partner in certain jurisdictions.

    In order to make your argument hold – that homosexuals are not being denied their civil rights – you need to first prove that this is the ONLY true definition of marriage. Your reference to reproductive ability was a nice try, but note that this would also exclude infertile straight couples from marrying.

    Of course, this is just my perspective from here in Canada, where same-sex marriages are legal and the sky mysteriously has yet to fall.

  • GayFatherOfTwo

    BroughtUpLiberal — Let’s ask a few questions. First, I call for references about this “institution of marriage” — please show me a consistent, never changing definition of marriage. Where do I go to find this?

    Please show me how marriage has never changed in society. Let me ask a question — is a cousin marriage a marriage? Why is it that in some states you cannot marry your cousin or relative at all, other states you can marry your second cousin but not first, and others it’s OK to marry your first cousin? Is that not self proving difference in your definition of marriage? But wait, what happens if you marry a first cousin in a state which it is legal and move to a state that it is NOT legal — is your marriage null and void? What happens should you die intestate? Does all of your belongings cede to the state? Or is there this thing about “full faith and credit”? You say you didn’t make the definition of marriage — well, who did? And if full faith and credit applies to cousin marriages, how do you justify not gay marriages?

    Now, you also state: “Blacks (a race — a class of people)….” Do you know that, anthropologically and biologically speaking there is no such thing as race? Do you know that race is a social construct that has changed and evolved with understanding and that what we call race actually is not race at all in the biological sense? Do you know that fewer than 10 genes govern the entire spectrum of how you separate race of one person from another and that ALL of those 10 gene variations are present in ALL the defined “races”?

    Now, what I really hear you stating is that you think gays are yucky — we offend your sense of King James biblical correctness — and you have no problem with laws that discriminate and prevent my family (my husband and our two children) from enjoying the same privileges as you do as a citizen of this country.

    Are you aware that I pay more in taxes in my family than the equivalent straight family but get less back from those tax payments? For example, should I die, my family would lose out over $200,000 in social security survivor benefits that the equivalent straight family would not. Are you aware that for one person in my family to stay at home to take care of the kids and be there for them after school and not have them in daycare that I have to purchase an additional health insurance policy that has a high deductible OR if I was in a state where I might be able to get co-coverage from my own group plan that I have to pay INCOME TAXES on what the company portion of the plan is?

    Humbly, BroughtUpLiberal, your definition of marriage is inconsistent with reality. It is self contradicting with your own bible’s history. I don’t even have to go back 30 years in American history to see it evolving and changing. Your definition cannot be found — it never existed — because as soon as you state your definition I find fully qualified exemptions to your definition at any time period you wish to choose and in any culture you wish to pontificate about.

  • hacksoncode

    Your argument is entirely persuasive. Nowhere does the Constitution grant the power to recognize marriages at all.

    The Federal Government should therefore stop recognizing marriage for anyone. If we accept that marriage is an entirely religious office, we have to accept that the Constitution in fact *prohibits* making it a requirement for any civil emolument (“no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”).

    Of course, I have no objection, personally or Constitutionally, if the Federal government wants to create an entirely *civil* institution (say, let’s call them civil unions) that provides certain Federal privileges to any couple that wants to maintain a household. Both heterosexual and homosexual couples would have to be free to create such an arrangement, of course, as all people have equal rights.

    Marriage shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

  • millstone

    I want to get married, but I am not religious. Why would I support a proposal that lets me choose a “church of my choice,” when I have no intent of involving any church in my wedding?

    Marriage is, as you say, hybrid. You view that as a problem, and your solution is to hack off the civil half of marriage, under the assumption that everyone interested in a civil marriage will be equally satisfied with a civil union.

    What is the basis for that assumption?

  • hacksoncode

    The basis for the assumption (that *I* made, anyway :-) is that, unless you have some religious reason to think otherwise, “marriage” is just a word.

    A civil union that brought all the same *civil* benefits as marriage without any of the religious connotations should not only satisfy but delight you, no?

  • BroughtUpLiberal

    People with same sex attraction have identical civil rights as the rest of the US population. They are free to marry someone of the opposite sex.

    Marriage is not a creation of the law. Marriage is a fundamental human institution that predates the law and the Constitution. At its heart, it is an anthropological and sociological reality, not a legal one. Laws relating to marriage merely recognize and regulate an institution that already exists. Those specific laws vary state to state. CA for instance specifically states – even BEFORE PROP 8 – that marriage was between a man and a woman.

    “Marriage” has a “traditional” meaning in our culture. Usually when we speak about marriage, everyone “understands” we are talking about a special type of relationship or contract that exists between two people of the opposite sex. The term “marriage” can be considered to have a “lexical” definition, one based on established usage, since all dictionaries of the English language (at least, at the moment) define a marriage as between a man and a woman. Usually, but not always, a legal definition of a term will rest on a lexical definition which rests on established usage.

    Canadian scholar Paul Nathanson (who is gay) has said, “Because heterosexuality is directly related to both reproduction and survival, … every human societ[y] has had to promote it actively . … Heterosexuality is always fostered by a cultural norm” that limits marriage to unions of men and women. He adds that people “are wrong in assuming that any society can do without it.”
    Society’s interest in marriages that do not produce children is less than its interest in marriages that result in the reproduction of the species. However, we still recognize childless marriages because it would be an invasion of a heterosexual couple’s privacy to require that they prove their intent or ability to bear children. On the other hand, same-sex couples, which are of a structural type (two men or two women) that is incapable—ever, under any circumstances, regardless of age, health, or intent—of producing babies naturally. In fact, they are incapable of even engaging in the type of sexual act that results in natural reproduction. And it takes no invasion of privacy or drawing of arbitrary upper age boundaries to determine that.

    There is ABSOLUTELY no scientific proof that same sex attraction is genetic. In fact P-FLAG, in its promotional pamphlet describes “gay” as a “human behavior:” Dr. Clinton Anderson of the American Psychological Association in “Why Ask Why? Addressing the Research on Homosexuality and Biology,”: “To date, no researcher has claimed that genes can determine sexual orientation. At best, researchers believe that there may be a genetic component. No human behavior, let alone sexual behavior, has been connected to genetic markers to date…sexuality, like every other behavior, is undoubtedly influenced by both biological and societal factors.”

    Dr Simon LeVay, researcher and gay activist on his oft-misquoted “famous” study:
    It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain.” .
    But isn’t mriage just a way of recognizing people who love each other and want to spend their lives together?
    If love and companionship were sufficient to define marriage, then there would be no reason to deny “marriage” to unions of a child and an adult, or an adult child and his or her aging parent, or to roommates who have no sexual relationship, or to groups rather than couples. Love and companionship are usually considered integral to marriage in our culture, but they are not sufficient to define it as an institution.

    Race is genetic and racial discrimination is protected; “gay” IS A BEHAVIOR –JUST ASK PFLAG.
    Non genetic behavior does not constitute a protected class, nor is does convey special “rights” over individual rights.

  • Pingback: The New Civil Rights Movement » The Internet Responds To The Times’ Gay Marriage Op-Ed: “Reconciliation”

  • BroughtUpLiberal

    State laws govern the application of the pre-existing institution of marriage to US citizens.

    However, because the institution of marriage wasn’t *created* by state (or Federal)law, the states cannot subsequently use law to arbitrarily redefine the institution’s foundation (one man/one women/incentive to naturally reproduce and raise productive — and reproductive — offspring) into something completely different in order to include a special interest group’s unique *behavior* (same sex attraction)that *nullifies* and destroys the very intent of the institution it seeks to “redefine.”

    And don’t classic liberals agree that the US govt has no business CREATING A NEW CIVIL COUPLING instituition for one special interest group that by constitutional definition would have to be inclusive of ALL special interest groups?

    Marriage (one man/one woman) was recognized as a institution with significant benefits to the country by the founding fathers and laws governing the application of the institution to US citizens were subsequently enacted. So far the states still unanimously support it.

  • Akston

    “Non genetic behavior does not constitute a protected class, nor is does convey special “rights” over individual rights.”

    This definition “protected class” is new to me. I’ll accept that it’s your definition. It doesn’t match mine. I’d say a “protected class” is any identifiable group of individuals which are singled out for legal protection.

    Beyond minors, I’m not sure I can identify any group that should be protected by law over and above all other individual citizens. I find all current “protected class” laws to either be redundant to Amendment 14, or abuses conferring special privileges to groups who have lobbied for them.

    So, in the matter of same-sex unions, I would functionally agree that there should be no special governmental recognition. However, I would also apply this to heterosexual unions.

    With my current understanding, I would not support governmental involvement in any marriage with the exception of honoring boilerplate contracts where individuals want to establish standard financial and legal connections with each other (civil unions). These would simply be standardized legal contracts voluntarily entered into by any individual citizen to allow for emergency support, responsibility for minors, inheritance, etc.

    Certainly, men and women have been mating for as long as there have been men and women. And that mating has produced progeny, to which we all owe our existence. But are mating and marriage the same thing?

    I maintain that “traditional” marriages are best performed and honored by whatever non-governmental groups the participating individuals voluntarily subscribe to, religious or not.

  • hacksoncode

    I’d also point out that this argument about “marriage” predating laws is entirely fallacious. It’s just bullshit. Learn some history. Read a book.

    “Marriage”, as a concept, was first a mechanism for creating political alliances between powerful families. It’s really only since about the Renaissance that anyone (statistically speaking) outside of the nobility “married” in the sense that’s meant in this discussion (i.e. as a civilly and/or religiously ceremoniously recognized joining).

    If you want to talk about “pair bonding” as a biological phenomenon, fine. That has existed for millions of years, possibly billions. Certainly longer than law (or religion) has existed. It also happens quite frequently in nature between same-sex pairs.

    “Marriage” is a relatively recent invention, evolutionarily speaking. Doves mate for life, but surely you wouldn’t call them “married”, would you?

    In any event, I agree: marriage shouldn’t be recognized by the state. Only civil unions should be. And there’s no valid reason at all to argue that same sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to enter into those.

    I’d also point out that lesbians that conceive children through in-vitro fertilization do so “naturally”. Unless you want to argue that they do it supernaturally. Perhaps the stork delivers them.

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