Tough Questions Answered

A Christian Apologetics Blog

Why Should You Vote “For” the NC Marriage Protection Amendment?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Tomorrow is a big day in North Carolina because we are casting votes on whether a marriage protection amendment should be added to the state constitution, something that a large number of other states have already done.  I have written on marriage and gay marriage in the past, and you can go read those posts if you’d like (some of the links are found at the bottom of this post under “related posts”). 

But what I want to do today is quote an email I received from my friend, Mark.  It was written by pastor John Held, and I think captures many of the important points in this debate.  Please take a couple of minutes to read it below, and don’t forget to vote “for” the amendment tomorrow, if you are a citizen of North Carolina.

Responding to the Opposition to the Marriage Protection Amendment

In their opposition of the Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA), anti-amendment activists (strongly supported by national homosexual advocacy groups) are intentionally using the terms “anti-gay,” “discriminatory,” “bigotry,” and “harmful” to describe the Marriage Protection Amendment. This is part of a well thought-through, strategic tool designed to engender an emotional response from uninformed North Carolinians.
 
As outlined in their book After The Ball, Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, both gay activists, explain:

In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to adopt the role of protector…[this will] lay the groundwork for the process of conversion by helping straights identify with gays and sympathize with their underdog status.

Homosexual activists have made no secret of the fact that the redefinition of marriage is number one on their social agenda. The popular accusations being made against the Marriage Protection Amendment fall into this “victim imagery” strategy.

Nothing about the Marriage Protection Amendment is anti-homosexual, and it does not represent an attack on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) individuals.

The Marriage Protection Amendment states, “that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”  It is a pro-marriage amendment with the sole intention of preserving and promoting the
historic definition of marriage as a public institution that binds men and women together to create the best environment for raising children. The amendment elevates current North Carolina law to the level of a constitutional amendment to protect the definition of
marriage from being redefined by either activist judges or politicians. 

It has been claimed that the Marriage Protection Amendment “writes discrimination into the state constitution…” Understandably, the term “discrimination” immediately creates in people’s minds the image of other people being unfairly excluded from something that is available to everyone else.  Of course, it is true that marriage, by definition, is an exclusive institution – in the sense that it is not open to everyone who wants to get married.  For example, children cannot get married, an adult cannot marry a child under a certain age, certain blood relatives cannot get married (a mother to her son, father to his daughter, brother to his sister), a man cannot marry two women, and a man cannot marry a woman who is married to someone else.
 
When the law defines marriage as between one man and one woman it does not prohibit any homosexual person from marrying, they would just have to marry in the same way that everyone else in society has to marry – they would have to marry someone of the opposite sex. This right is extended equally to all unmarried adults in the society.
 
When homosexuals claim that they want to marry another person of the same sex, they are not simply claiming the right to marry that is available to everyone else in society.  They are claiming a new right that has not previously been available to anyone in this society.  Such a right has been denied to everyone in the society, prior to this time; so, it is not discriminating against them to say that this kind of right is denied to them.

By way of analogy, if a man claimed that he wanted to marry his sister (or any of the examples given above), he is really claiming the right to redefine marriage according to his own desires and preferences.  He is not just claiming a private right for himself, but is
claiming a right to change the definition of marriage that has been adopted by the whole society.  And the law is correct when it denies him the right to do this.  Therefore, restricting marriage to one man and woman does not violate anyone’s fundamental rights. In fact, what the marriage protection amendment actually does is preserve the unique and special understanding of marriage that has existed in nearly every civilization since the beginning of time from the ongoing attempts to strip marriage of its core meaning and purpose.

Christians should also recognize that the end result of the redefinition of marriage is the silencing of the Church on the biblical understanding of sex, gender, and the family.  Granted, for individual churches and denominations that have either rejected the authority of Scripture or re-interpreted Scripture (abandoning grammatical-historical hermeneutical principles), so that the Bible’s clear teaching is muddled, this is not an issue – they have already capitulated to the current culture.  Yet, in places where same-sex marriage has been legalized, religious freedom and free-speech (of individuals and churches that hold to traditional marriage) are under attack in the name of promoting the full acceptance of homosexuality.  The Marriage Protection Amendment would help protect the ability of the church to continue to proclaim what Scripture teaches about sex, gender, and marriage, including what the Bible says about homosexual activity (and adultery and fornication and pornography and all other forms of soul-destroying sin).
 
The accusation that the Marriage Protection Amendment will harm children is unfounded.  Even the liberal British philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “But for children, there would be no need of any institution concerned with sex…It is of children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society.”  No fact has been more convincingly established by social science literature then the fact that children are best served when reared in a home with a married mother and father. Just because other broken family forms exist (from single mothers to same-sex partners) does not mean that the marital norm for society should be redefined in order to keep the children in these families from feeling different.  In a post-Genesis 3 world, not every family will reflect the marital ideal of one man and one woman provides for individuals and society at large.

The Marriage Protection Amendment is really about one thing: preserving the historic understanding of sexuality, gender, and the family in North Carolina and protecting the rights of parents (and the church) to transmit traditional values about these core issues to the next generation.


About The Author

Comments

  • Belva Moore

    Thank you Billy! Well said.

  • Brap Gronk

    “The Marriage Protection Amendment would help protect the ability of the church to continue to proclaim what Scripture teaches about sex, gender, and marriage, including what the Bible says about homosexual activity.”

    Does the ability of the church to proclaim what Scripture teaches need “protection,” or would “support” be a better word there? I think that’s really what both sides want, a constitution that supports their position (or at least isn’t in opposition to their position).

  • Ggodat

    below is a great link to more “facts” concerning this ammenment:

    http://www.mountainx.com/article/42473/Rep.-Paul-Stam-releases-statement-in-defense-of-Amendment-One

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    No fact has been more convincingly established by social science literature then the fact that children are best served when reared in a home with a married mother and father.

    Is this claim true in comparison to same sex married parents?

    Judge Walker (in the case of ruling California’s Prop 8 as unconstitutional) found that:

    70.The gender of a child’s parent is not a factor in a child’s adjustment. The sexual orientation of an individual does not determine whether that individual can be a good parent. Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are as likely as children raised by heterosexual parents to be healthy, successful, and well-adjusted. The research supporting this conclusion is accepted beyond serious debate in the field of developmental psychology. a.Tr 1025:4-23 (Lamb: Studies have demonstrated “very conclusively that children who are raised by gay and lesbian parents are just as likely to be well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.” These results are “completely consistent with our broader understanding of the factors that affect children’s adjustment.”);b.PX2565
    American Psychological Association, Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality
    at 5
    (2008): “[S]ocial science has shown that the concerns often raised about children of lesbian and gay parents —— concerns that are generally grounded in prejudice against and stereotypes about gay people —— are unfounded.”;c.PX2547 (Nathans on Nov 12, 2009 Dep Tr 49:05-49:19:Sociological and psychological peer-reviewed studies conclude that permitting gay and lesbian individuals to marry does not cause any problems for children); PX2546at 2:20-3:10 (video of same).

    71.Children do not need to be raised by a male parent and a female parent to be well-adjusted, and having both a male and a female parent does not increase the likelihood that a child will be well-adjusted.

    73.Studies comparing outcomes for children raised by married opposite-sex parents to children raised by single or divorced parents do not inform conclusions about outcomes for children raised by same-sex parents in stable, long-term relationships.Tr 1187:13-1189:6 (Lamb)

    As a Canadian where gay marriage is legal, let me say that the sky has not fallen and that life continues for the majority of its citizens just as before. Traditional marriage has not been affected one iota and children raised by caring and responsible adults of either gender are doing the same as before this ruling. What is different now is the legal environment for gays who have married; like their heterosexual married neighbours, they now have the same legal rights and responsibilities as any other married couple and are no longer are excluded from visiting their spouses in hospital, making decisions on their behalf, inheriting, sharing assets as well as liabilities, access to spousal benefits and pensions, and so on. It’s simply fair to be legally treated like any other citizen and most Canadians are okay with fair.

  • Ggodat

    Gays are legally treated the exact same as non-gays in the US. They have the same opportunity to marry a person of the opposite sex. Also, marriage is not a right guaranteed by any legal institution or document in the US (including the Constitution). It is considered a privilege.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Then logically, allowing gay marriage isn’t a special right for gays, as it would be equally available to any straight men or women who wish to marry their own gender.

    Interestingly, exactly the same argument was used to argue that anti-muscenegation laws were not discriminatory. People said that blacks had the same right to marry other blacks and whites had the same right to marry other whites, so inter-racial couples could not claim they were discriminated against. Bad argument then, a bad one now.

  • Andrew Ryan

    It is semantics to argue over whether a man wanting to marry his sister is ‘redefining’ marriage, or simply arguing that the right to marry should be extended to a wider group. You could equally argue that any occasion of widening a right was a ‘redefinition’ – that wouldn’t in itself be an argument against widening the right – whether it’s votes for women, or the right of a man to marry his own daughter. The case for each should stand on it’s own merits, apart from slippery slope arguments.

  • Ggodat

    Great, then using your reasoning we should also allow 50yr old men to marry 8 yr old boys and girls. We should allow people to marry houses and their cars. We should allow murders to carry handguns…. I could care less about what you perceive to be an unknown right, the issue here is, are they being denied the right to marry and the answer is no! They have the same right as any person. If we give a right to a special group then it is a special right because only that group is asking for it. I don’t see any heterosexual people lined up to marry a person of the same sex….

    You heinously belittle the civil rights battles of the past by claiming this to be in the same boat. Homosexuality is a choice just like rape, pedophilia, murder, and any other sin. Being black is not a choice!

  • Andrew Ryan

    “using your reasoning we should also allow 50yr old men to marry 8 yr old boys and girls.”

    Nothing in my reasoning suggests that. However, you seem to be saying if one can argue that an attraction is a ‘choice’ then it is logically on a par with pedophilia etc.

    “Homosexuality is a choice just like rape, pedophilia, murder, and any other sin. Being black is not a choice!”

    Analogy fail. If you can’t respond to the actual arguments I make, there’s not much point in your responding at all.

    I didn’t compare gay to race. I compared GENDER preference to RACE preference. In the times of anti-miscegeneration laws – which outlawed black and whites marrying each other – it was equally argued that it was a choice to be attracted to a different race. Thus an inter-racial relationship is, according to your logic, a choice like pedophilia, murder and any other sin.

    “I don’t see any heterosexual people lined up to marry a person of the same sex….”

    Right, which is why it is a facile argument to say that gays have an equal right to marry the other gender. “I don’t see gays lined up to marry a person of the opposite sex”.

    As an additional point – it’s a bit odd to argue that rape is a choice. Obviously it is, by definition, not the choice of the rapee. If it’s consented then it isn’t rape. I’m a little worried that you seem to miss this distinction…

  • Dedwarmo

    I will be voting against the amendment. Gay folks have been living together for years. Why not let them get married?

  • Todd

    As I’ve argued before, marriage is a social contract and the gov’t has no business sanctioning these religiously biased unions. Let people apply for civil unions to ensure their civil liberties from the government, then religion can wave magic hands, speak magic words, drink blood, stop glass, and discriminate against other humans until their cup runeth over in the privacy of their own tax-free buildings.

    However, in this post (and in the arguments I’ve heard to date) no one is offering a reason why this amendment helps NC. If the premises of this post is true to “create the best environment for raising children.” Why then does no one site proof that the statement is valid?

    How does this amendment protect “the rights of parents (and the church) to transmit traditional values”? Is there a law prohibiting that that this one overturns?

    What secular purpose does this amendment boast? If we were to put it against the Lemon Law, I think it would clearly fail all three criteria…

  • Andrew Ryan

    Anti-abolitionst Christians in the mid-19th Century that abolishing slavery was an attack on the church. And yet people are still allowed to defend the slavery passages in the bible all they want.

    In fact, abolitionists, including those who were Christian, were condemned as heretics and infidels for their apostasy. Rev. Benjamin Palmer of the First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans said in 1860:

    “The Abolition spirit is undeniably atheistic, The demon which erected its throne upon the guillotine in the days of Robespierre and Marat, which abolished the Sabbath and worshipped reason in the person of a harlot, yet survives to work other horrors, of which those of the French Revolution are but the type.

    Among a people so generally religious as the American, a disguise must be worn; but it is the same old threadbare disguise of the advocacy of human rights. From a thousand Jacobin Clubs here, as in France, the decree has gone forth which strikes at God by striking at all subordination and law. . . .

    This spirit of atheism, which knows no God who tolerates evil, no Bible which sanctions law, and no conscience that can be bound by oaths and covenants, has selected us for its victims, and slavery for its issue. Its banner-cry rings out already upon the air: “liberty, equality, fraternity,” which simply interpreted, means bondage, confiscation, and massacre. With its tricolor waving in the breeze—it waits to inaugurate its reign of terror. To the South the high position is assigned of defending, before all nations, the cause of all religions and of all truths.”

    The Southern Baptist Convention, the second largest denomination in the country, was formed for the purpose of defending slavery. The arguments in favor of slavery came straight out of the Bible, which endorses slavery over and over again in both the old and new testaments. The Texas declaration of secession could hardly be more clear:

    “That in this free government *all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights* [emphasis in the original]; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations…”

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    Please read the comments guidelines. Your comment has virtually nothing to do with the original post.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Todd, read the comments guidelines. Your comments about religion are disrespectful.

  • Todd

    Bill, I find my comments truthful. Everything in the statement I image you find disrespectful is related to a religious marriage ceremony in one or more religions.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “When the law defines marriage as between one man and one woman it does not prohibit any homosexual person from marrying, they would just have to marry in the same way that everyone else in society has to marry – they would have to marry someone of the opposite sex. This right is extended equally to all unmarried adults in the society.”

    Bill, could you answer a simple question. Do you accept the following argument:

    “Anti-miscegenation laws did not prevent inter-racial couples from marrying they could marry in the same way that everyone else in society could marry – they would have to marry someone of the same race. This right is extended equally to all unmarried adults in the society.”

    Setting aside that you already agree with inter-racial marriage, does the above strike you as a true and reasonable statement with regards to whether anti-miscengenation laws were DISCRIMINATORY?

    Please don’t say the question is irrelevant or insulting, I’m trying to establish whether you believe that the first paragraph above is actually a good argument in FORMAT.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Let’s take a closer look at what discrimination means. In any society, there are institutions (e.g., governments, corporations, non-profit’s) that convey benefits upon people of that society. Those benefits are only conveyed if the people desiring the benefit meet the requirements laid out by the institution. Institutions convey benefits only because they desire something in return, and that is why there are always specific requirements that must be met.

    So what is discrimination? Discrimination occurs when an institution denies a person a benefit, even though the person has met the requirements. Let’s look at a hypothetical example. I am a corporation and I am hiring an engineer. I interview an Asian woman who meets all of the requirements I have laid out for the job (the job is the benefit). But because I don’t like Asian women, I refuse to give her the job. This is clearly discrimination because she meets the requirements for the job, but I am refusing to give it to her merely because of her race.

    In the matter of marriage, the state is the institution conveying the benefits. The state, by recognizing the legality of a marriage, conveys benefits to the married couple. What are the requirements the state has laid out for marriage? There must be one man and one woman.

    So why is there a requirement that there be one man and one woman? To know that, we have to look at what the state gains from recognizing marriage. Here is a quote from Robert George:

    “Marriage as a union . . . takes its distinctive character from being founded, unlike other friendships, on bodily unity of the kind that sometimes generates new life. This unity is why marriage, in our legal tradition, is consummated only by acts that are generative in kind. Such acts unite husband and wife at the most fundamental level and thus legally consummate marriage whether or not they are generative in effect, and even when conception is not sought.

    Of course, marital intercourse often does produce babies, and marriage is the form of relationship that is uniquely apt for childrearing (which is why, unlike baptisms and bar mitzvahs, it is a matter of vital public concern).”

    The state recognizes marriage because it is THE relationship that produces children and that raises and civilizes those children. The state has a strong interest in both of these activities for the common good.

    So, is it discrimination to deny a gay couple state recognition of their relationship? No. They do not meet the requirements. Consummation of a gay “marriage” can never produce children. Therefore, the state has no compelling reason to give the benefit of marital recognition to gay couples.

    What about laws denying inter-racial marriages? Were these laws discriminatory? Yes. The consummation of an inter-racial marriage does produce children, in exactly the same way that an intra-racial couple does. They meet the requirement for marriage, and therefore to deny them the benefit is clearly discrimination.

  • Todd

    By your reckoning, “Let’s take a closer look at what discrimination means. In any society, there are institutions (e.g., governments, corporations, non-profit’s) that convey benefits upon people of that society. Those benefits are only conveyed if the people desiring the benefit meet the requirements laid out by the institution. Institutions convey benefits only because they desire something in return, and that is why there are always specific requirements that must be met.” – So if the institution (perhaps like it did in the 1800s) lays out that interracial marriage is illegal, blacks don’t get to marry whites. So that’s not discrimination?

    “Consummation of a gay “marriage” can never produce children.” So sterile heterosexual couples should not be allowed to marry? What about older couples past their childbearing years? Why is genitalia a concern in these relationships?

    “The state recognizes marriage because it is THE relationship that produces children and that raises and civilizes those children. The state has a strong interest in both of these activities for the common good.” Can you site any studies that show homosexual couples do not raise civilized children? There are plenty that demonstrate conclusively they do.

    To me, this is obvious discrimination perpetuated by majority rule, led from the pulpit by religious institutions with ancient (and erroneous) notions of morality.

  • Boz

    Disrespectful of a person, or disrespectful of an idea?

  • Andrew Ryan

    So Bill, would you by that reckoning support an amendment to prevent post-menopausal women marrying?

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    With all due respect to Robert George…

    Robert George: This unity is why marriage, in our legal tradition, is consummated only by acts that are generative in kind.

    Notice the careful choice of words—“in our legal tradition.” Although at one time, “consummation” was necessary for marriage (dating back to other legal systems) in many jurisdictions—including Michigan—it is not. You are married upon fulfilling certain requirements (license, ceremony, witnesses, etc.); sex is not one of them.

    In other words, marriage is NOT consummated by “acts that are generative in kind.” While a historical look at marriage may be informative, we need to apply the current law to our situation.

    Robert George: The state recognizes marriage because it is THE relationship that produces children and that raises and civilizes those children. [emphasis in original]

    Not correct. The state recognizes marriage because it confers certain rights to participants—widow’s share, dower, beneficiary, pension rights, insurance rights, and legal claims to name a few–regardless whether the persons have children! Trust me, watch the 89-year-old millionaire widower marry the 18-year-old hottie and watch the fur fly as to all the legal rights the 18-year-old gained over the widower’s children!

    Secondly, the state recognizes “THE relationship that produces children” (in George’s words) as sex and formal adoption. Parents have certain legal rights regarding children—specifically support, custody (both legal and physical), and parenting time–regardless whether the parents are married! Trust me, when two unmarried people have a child, the state does not shrug and say, “Only marriage is a relationship that produces children and since they are not married, there are no legal rights and/or privileges between these individuals.” Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    As it happens, marriage often produces children (both from sex and adoption) meaning there are rights between the two people’s rights as married people and the two people’s rights as parents—but it is not the “marriage” that makes it so.

    Bill Pratt: So, is it discrimination to deny a gay couple state recognition of their relationship? No. They do not meet the requirements. Consummation of a gay “marriage” can never produce children. [emphasis in original]

    I hope I have now clarified the problems with this statement. “Consummation” is no longer a requirement (therefore a gay couple could fulfill the requirements just like any heterosexual couple) nor are children necessarily a state interest in marriage.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    The one-man and one-woman relationship is the ideal that the state is promoting by recognizing marriage. It is a norm. There will always be exceptions to the norm, as in couples who choose not to have children or couples who are infertile. The exception, however, does not determine the rule, nor should it.

    It is simply an evolutionary and biological fact that one man and one woman are required to procreate. The state is simply recognizing this fact and institutionalizing it because it serves the state’s purposes (i.e., reproduction and child rearing).

    Why should the normative ideal of traditional marriage be modified for a sexual minority? What does the state gain by dropping the ideal of one man and one woman?

    If the purpose of marriage is simply to recognize love and commitment between people, then why aren’t deep friendships licensed by the state? Why shoudn’t the state recognize polygamous and polyamorous relationships?

    Once you drop the ideal of one man and one woman uniting for the purpose of procreation and child rearing, marriage becomes an empty shell.

  • Andrew Ryan

    I don’t think you’re addressing the point. You say it’s about procreation. ‘There will always be exceptions to the norm’ applies just as much to gay couples as to infertile ones. It’s special pleading to argue otherwise. What does the state gain by allowing ANY non-procreating couples to marry?

    Well, my answer is that the state shouldn’t be asking for its

  • Andrew Ryan

    Sorry, my iPod screen loses track of my paragraphs after a certain length.

    My answer (to what the state gains) is that from a small government point of view, the state shouldn’t be asking for personal benefit before granting rights. It needs a reason in fact to DENY the right.

    Another answer is that gay couples are PART of the state. Therefore if they are benefitting then by definition the state is benefitting.

    All that is even if we accept your ‘it’s about bearing kids’ answer, which someone else here has already disputed. Think it was tildeb

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Andrew, just a note about your comparison:

    The last time North Carolina amended its state constitution to deal with marriage was to outlaw interracial marriage. That was in 1875, and the ban lasted until Loving v Virginia struck down such laws in 1969.

    Your comparison – the making of an unjust law about marriage – is in fact fair.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Thanks – I thought so too! And polls after Virginia vs Loving showed that the ban would have remained had it been put to the public vote. That’s why minority rights shouldn’t be put to the public vote. We protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Exactly right. That’s why equal rights of autonomy in law are not justified by democratic vote but must constitutionally supersede any such popular appeal. Voters who do not understand this principle – and those in North Carolina are hardly unique – don’t understand they are also agreeing to make their own legal rights – like freedom of religion – subject to popularity… which works just fine until they face, let’s say, a muslim majority. Only then do they realize just how foolish and loose they have been with the hard-fought rights of autonomy in law in the name of piety. This is a social danger to everyone – believer and non believer alike – and yet another example of how religious belief brought into policy in the public domain is never, ever, a good thing.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Bill Pratt,

    Thank you very much for your response.

    Bill Pratt: It is simply an evolutionary and biological fact that one man and one woman are required to procreate. The state is simply recognizing this fact and institutionalizing it because it serves the state’s purposes (i.e., reproduction and child rearing).

    How do we determine “state’s purpose” in the legal system? Imagine claiming the “state’s purpose” by institutionalizing marriage is to provide better homes for pets. How do we support or disprove this claim? Fairly simply—we (1) look to marriage laws, (2) look to pet-ownership laws and (3) compare the rights, privileges, duties and benefits between the two. In doing so we discover no difference between the responsibilities and benefits of married-pet-owners and non-married-pet owners. Making this claim about “state’s purpose,” marriage and pet ownership unfounded.

    I understand Robert George and you are claiming the state institutionalized marriage for reproduction and child-rearing; however…simply re-phrasing the same claim over and over in different grammatically correct sentences does not make it true. We need to perform the same analysis: (1) look to marriage laws, (2) look to parenting laws and (3) compare the rights, privileges, duties and benefits between the two. As I tried to point previously, there is no difference between the responsibilities and benefits of married parents and non-married parents. Both, under the law, have the same rights and privileges regarding custody (physical and legal), parenting time and support. The only support Robert George brought to the table was consummation—an outdated law!

    Indeed, the differences we DO see between married persons and non-married persons—under the law—have far more to do with assts (real estate, dower, pension, widow’s share, legal claim rights) than child-rearing. From a neutral standpoint, in looking at the differences between married persons and non-married persons, the “state’s purpose” is much more attuned to assets than children.

    Bill Pratt: If the purpose of marriage is simply to recognize love and commitment between people, then why aren’t deep friendships licensed by the state?

    Again, “marriage” by the state is conforming to a certain set of requirements—license, ceremony, witnesses, etc. “Love” and/or “commitment” are irrelevant.* Deep friendships ARE “licensed by the state” in the form of marriage…if the deep friends adhere to the requirements.

    *As fraudulent marriages are prohibited, arguably one could state “commitment” at some very iota level is necessary. Or at least one must not be NON-committed to the marriage.

    Bill Pratt: Why should the normative ideal of traditional marriage be modified for a sexual minority?

    Because America is founded on the principle of a constitutional democracy—where we are NOT governed by whim of “majority rule” but enact laws specifically designed to protect those unable to obtain majority. To protect the minority, the non-normals, the small percentages. Why should the “normative ideal” of men voting be modified for a female minority? Why should the “normative ideal” of whites marrying whites be modified for a minority of whites and blacks who want to marry? Why should the “normative ideal” of some majority religion bend to accommodate a minority position?

    Our very core concept is founded that those who most need protecting—why do the “norms” and “majorities” and “ideals” need it if they are already in the majority?—are protected under the law, not by when the majority wants or desires.

    Bill Pratt: What does the state gain by dropping the ideal of one man and one woman?

    To cease discriminating against a minority group. What did states gain by losing separate-but-equal? What did states gain by dropping the ideal of people marrying within their color? What did states gain by dropping the ideal of people gender-preference hiring?

    Bill Pratt: Why shoudn’t the state recognize polygamous and polyamorous relationships?

    *shrug* Perhaps it will someday. Right now, our laws are not sufficient to cope with the legal niceties involved (If a man with two wives, divorces one, we have no mechanism to establish alimony in that situation, for example.) I suspect the bigger question is more along the slippery-slope lines—if we allow same-sex marriage, what is to stop people marrying their cats, etc.

    I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret secret. Every single law ever passed has slippery-slope implications. Every action prohibited provides for expanded prohibition. Every action allowed provides for expanded allowances. If we restrict the speed limit to 55 mph, what is to stop us from going to 50 mph? Or 40 mph? or 3 mph? If we allow the speed limit to 70 mph, what is to stop us from going to 150 mph? Or 1 million mph? If we allow women to vote, what prevents us from allowing pets to vote? If we drop the age of consent to 15, what is to stop us from dropping it to 5?

    Believe it or not, in reviewing our history, we manage to not take every single law and expand it to the extremes. In the legal system, we manage to actually muddle through and figure out there are limitations for certain reasons. Occasionally we even revert back, after finding out we went too far.

    Let me be clear, Bill Pratt. I fully support your right to be against same-sex marriage; I equally fully support your right to declare being against it. Personally, I think your best argument is that your God prohibits homosexual sex…and shouldn’t that be enough of a reason? But what I see are these attempts to justify being against same-sex marriage through means other than theistic, and in this case through claims regarding “state’s purpose.” And those claims just don’t hold water when we actually look at the law.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Dagoods,
    I don’t understand why you think the state should recognize marriage. I have given my understanding of why: to promote the ideal of the one human relationship which naturally produces children and provides the best circumstances for raising those children.

    You reject this. So why, in your opinion, should the state recognize marriage at all?

  • http://noapologiesallowed.wordpress.com/ Joshua

    Well said!

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bill: “Why, in your opinion, should the state recognise marriage at all?”

    I just read this in the NYT:

    “Mr [Jon] Huntsman, a former Republican presidential candidate and governor of Utah, said his position supporting civil unions hardened in 2007 after the gay partner of a close friend was barred from the emergency room as his friend’s son lay dying after a swing-set accident.

    “You can’t experience something like that without saying, ‘Where’s the fairness?’ ” said Mr. Huntsman, a Mormon, whose religion strongly condemns homosexuality.”

    Occasions like that make a strong argument to me for why the state should recognise gay unions, gay marriages and indeed straight marriage. You might have a couple who have been together for, say, 30 years, and yet when one is seriously ill, the other can’t even be by their side in the emergence room.

    If the state has to ask what it gains from allowing a dying woman to be comforted by her partner of three decades, I’d say the state is asking the wrong questions. Comparing gay marriage to people marrying their siblings is off too, as siblings already automatically get the right to be in that emergence room.

    I note too, that a standard response from apologists has been that Civil Unions offer all the same rights as a marriage. Aside from the fact that this has on many instances simply shown to be false, we now see the same apologists supporting the NC amendment, which also bans Civil Unions!

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bill, thanks for your long response of five days ago regarding discrimination. You explain at length why you think inter-racial couples should be able to marry while gays should not. But this is a separate argument to the specific one I was questioning.

    I asked you if you thought the following, on its own, is a good argument:

    “Anti-miscegenation laws did not prevent inter-racial couples from marrying they could marry in the same way that everyone else in society could marry – they would have to marry someone of the same race. This right was extended equally to all unmarried adults in the society.”

    This is exactly the same argument you made against gay marriage.

    May I suggest that if the argument only works if you are ALREADY against gay marriage for other reasons, then it’s not much of an argument.

    If you picked someone up on making that argument against inter-racial marriage, and that person defended it by making a DIFFERENT argument for why you should oppose it, then you’d be forgiven for saying “Why didn’t you just go straight to the second argument then?”.

    All that aside, you say:

    “Consummation of a gay “marriage” can never produce children. Therefore, the state has no compelling reason to give the benefit of marital recognition to gay couples.”

    As already pointed out, one could make exactly the same argument against post-menopausal women marrying. Would you accept the following as a good argument? Would you see it as insulting?:

    “”Consummation of a post-menopausal so-called “marriage” can never produce children. Therefore, the state has no compelling reason to give the benefit of so-called “marital” recognition to post-menopausal women. One might as well let a man marry his own sister or his dog than let him marry a woman who is, say, 55. ”

    Given that I know you would not accept that argument, it seems likely to me that your ‘No kids’ argument for opposing gay marriage is a post-hoc justification, and not your true one.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Bill Pratt: So why, in your opinion, should the state recognize marriage at all?

    Good question. I struggle with the word “should”—do I respond in an ideal fashion, as if I am creating a society, language and culture from scratch, or do I respond in a pragmatic fashion, understanding I am dealing with already built-in concepts such as language (‘Husband,” “Wife,” “Wedding,” “Married”, etc.) and societal perceptions?

    Perhaps to explain the difference…once parents are divorced, the children still need parental guidance. They need a place to stay, food on the table, interaction with both parents, schooling, etc. Ideally, the two divorced parents “should” get along and do what is best for the child, despite their own differences between each other. Alas, spend 1 hour in family court and you will see divorced parents fighting over everything regarding the children—what sport to be in, what church to go to, what time to go to bed, what clothes to wear—quite honestly, if you can imagine it, they have fought over it. In those situations, the state “should” step in and make the determination these irrational pseudo-adults cannot jointly make.

    Ideally, I think the state “shouldn’t” be involved in parenting; pragmatically (given our current societal make-up) the state “should” be involved in parenting. I hope I sufficiently explained the difference between an ideal “should” and a pragmatic “should.”

    To answer your question, ideally (if I was creating a society from scratch) I do not think the state “should” recognize marriage. However, we are not in an ideal society, nor will we ever be. We will always approach what we have with societal bias already firmly in place. Realizing this, I will answer from a pragmatic “should.” The State should recognize marriage as it confers benefits to the individuals married. Specifically, as outlined above, asset distribution, legal claims, pension benefits, as well as demarcation as to rights and responsibilities in life encounters. Who gets to visit whom in the hospital, if you will. Secondly, the State should recognize marriage as it already has in place a vehicle to confirm a societal perception as to depth of commitment. We, as a society (good or bad) recognize marriage as the ultimate form of people committing to each other in a relationship.

    Understand, I am NOT saying the State is confirming or even requiring such a commitment. What I am saying is such a perception is already in our society (we designate “married” in innumerable instances), and the state provides the means to make the determination as when someone is “married” and when they are not. It is the State’s laws implemented allowing us to know we were “single” one minute ago, and now we are “married.” (Just like it is the state’s law implemented allowing us to know we were “married” one minute ago and now we are “divorced.” With all the rights, privileges and responsibilities carried in those terms.)

    Bill Pratt: I don’t understand why you think the state should recognize marriage. I have given my understanding of why: to promote the ideal of the one human relationship which naturally produces children and provides the best circumstances for raising those children. [emphasis added]

    And it is fine if you want to promote this as the State’s purpose. I hope you understand it is NOT the current State’s purpose (based on the law) nor has it ever traditionally been the basis for marriage (although it is often a happy by-product.) You are carving out a whole new State purpose for marriage not implemented by any US government that I know. (Ironically, one often hears that same-sex marriage proponents are attempting to “change the definition of marriage;” this would be a far more radical change.)

    What would the State do in the following situations?

    1) People marrying who cannot naturally have children due to age or physical limitation).
    2) People who can naturally have children, but choose to not.
    3) People who can naturally have children, but choose to adopt.
    4) People utilizing a surrogate.
    5) People who will not raise the child in the “best circumstances.”*

    *This is a HUGE difficulty. Who determines “best circumstances”? The State? Statistics? Majority?

    Either the law (if it would stay consistent with purpose) must bar such marriages OR it must begin to make exceptions. If it makes exceptions, we run into three (3) difficulties;

    1) At what point do the exceptions eventually bring us right back to the current State purpose and law?
    2) At what point do the exceptions allow same-sex marriage, thus defeating this argument?
    3) At what point do we so narrowly tailor the exceptions it becomes obvious the ONLY exclusion is same-sex marriage, thus demonstrating an outcome-based law, and fully demonstrating discrimination.

    Again, I appreciate your desire for what marriage “should” be, and the resulting assertion that State purpose “should” follow your desire…what I am saying is that it currently does not. It legally historically did not. And modifying the current law to conform to this new “State Purpose” creates more problems than it resolves.

    If it is not the current State purpose, why must we change the State’s purpose to eliminate same-sex marriage? Isn’t that backwards? If same-sex marriage conforms to the current State Purpose, shouldn’t we allow same sex marriage at this time, and only upon changing the State’s purpose, review the issue whether same-sex marriage (and a multiple of other situations) should then be allowed?

    Obviously this only holds water if one is arguing same-sex marriage does not conform to the State’s purpose in marriage. If one is arguing same-sex marriage should be barred for theistic reasons, that is another barrel of monkeys….

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Dagoods: The State should recognize marriage as it confers benefits to the individuals married. Specifically, as outlined above, asset distribution, legal claims, pension benefits, as well as demarcation as to rights and responsibilities in life encounters. Who gets to visit whom in the hospital, if you will. Secondly, the State should recognize marriage as it already has in place a vehicle to confirm a societal perception as to depth of commitment. We, as a society (good or bad) recognize marriage as the ultimate form of people committing to each other in a relationship.

    I don’t see why it is necessary to legally recognize a gay relationship as a marriage if all you want to do is solve the issues of “asset distribution, legal claims, pension benefits, as well as demarcation as to rights and responsibilities in life encounters.” Surely there are ways to handle these things without marriage being involved. For example, I know that many companies aIready allow same-sex partners to be covered by each other’s insurance. There are also power-of-attorney rights that can be given to those other than a spouse.

    These kinds of things are merely ancillary to marriage, not essential parts of marriage. I think there are precious few couples that actually marry today for these reasons alone.

    I think your second reason for the state to recognize marriage is where the vast majority of gay marriage advocates agree – recognizing deep commitment between people. But of course there are problems with this. Where do you draw the line? With one-man, one-woman marriage, the line is fairly easy to draw. But how could you deny the right of multiple people who are dedicated to each other to marry, or two elderly aunts who are not at all sexually involved, but count on each other for support, or two widowers who are great friends, or any other group of two or more people who claim to have a deep commitment to each other?

    Again, with the traditional view of marriage, we have a firm ground for only recognizing marriage between one man and one woman. Your “recognizing deep commitment” view opens the doors to virtually an unlimited number of relationships, does it not?

    One final point. You have continuously repeated that my view of marriage is not the view of marriage witnessed to by the law. I do not agree. The “What Is Marriage?” paper that I linked to in my latest blog post makes a case for just the opposite. I will not rehearse it here, but I do ask you and our readers to go read that paper.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Andrew: As already pointed out, one could make exactly the same argument against post-menopausal women marrying.

    I agree that if the only people getting married were post-menopausal women, then the traditional view of marriage which I advocate would be greatly weakened. But the truth is that the vast majority of marriage ceremonies do not involve these kinds of women. They involve younger women who are coupling with a man to form a family.

    As I said in another comment, the exception does not make the rule. In addition, the primary reason that any post-menopausal women marry today is because they were in a failed first marriage which occurred prior to menopause! The epidemic of divorce also helps tear down the traditional view of marriage, and I am more upset about that than gay marriage.

    Further, even though a post-menopausal marriage cannot produce children, there is still intrinsic value in the organic union of a man and woman, and the intimate commitment this engenders. This organic union cannot occur in a same-sex relationship as they are missing the complementary organs needed for such a union to take place.

  • Andrew Ryan

    You say the line is easy to draw with one man/one woman, but less easy to draw in certain other circumstances. This is true, but one man/one man isn’t one of those circumstances. In fact the line is just as easy to draw as with one man/one woman.

    You ask why marriage is needed to cover the many dozens of different rights… Well why come up with some complicated replacement when we already have one uncomplicated, easily understood and recognised contract that covers them all – marriage.

  • Andrew Ryan

    What is that intrinsic value that is missing in gay couples? All you’re offering is that the two situations may (or may not) involve different sex acts, none of which in either situation can lead to conception anyway. What do you mean by ‘organic union’? Why is the gay couple any less ‘organic’ than an infertile straight couple having sex? There may be any one of a dozen or so sex acts that both couples share with the other anyway, none of which can lead to conception even among fertile couples.

    I don’t see how any of this is an objective argument against gay marriage.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Bill Pratt: You have continuously repeated that my view of marriage is not the view of marriage witnessed to by the law. I do not agree.

    But only you can answer this question: Do you disagree with me because you want your marriage view to be the one reflected by the law, or do you disagree with me because you have studied the actual laws [not an article relying upon Medieval English (!) Law]? I did see the article, read it, and commented on it. You may also notice, the article fails to cite a single law within the American legal system—not a statute, nor a case law—in support of the contention regarding coitus consummation. It buries the reference under centuries old (and centuries outdated) “legal tradition” from another country!

    This site provides an overview regarding marriage laws in America. I should note a few things about it:

    1) It is accurate regarding Michigan; I did not compare the claims with the actual laws in the other 50 jurisdictions.
    2) I could not find a single State making any requirement of marriage regarding “naturally producing children” or “best circumstances of the child.” Every single State researched indicated marriage was about two people performing certain requirements, regardless of children, potential children or children circumstances.
    3) Although I found opaque references to “a few states” require consummation, I could not find a specific state that did so, either currently or historically. Therefore, I could not look to the law itself.

    At some point, after researching and researching and researching, and not finding support for your position, Bill Pratt, I stop. I think it eventually becomes incumbent upon you to provide at least some support by citing at least one State law supporting your position. Again, I will note the article referenced failed to provide a single cite either.

    Bill Pratt: Your “recognizing deep commitment” view opens the doors to virtually an unlimited number of relationships, does it not?

    Yep. I thought I dealt with this already…the “slippery slope”…perhaps I was not clear. In the same way, your limitation of “one man, one woman” opens the door to virtually an unlimited number of restrictions, does it not? “One man of same race as One Woman.” (Whoops—we even have historical precedent for that!) “One land-owning male of the same race as One Woman.” (We have the same legal precedent for “consummation” as this.)

    Again, every single law invites enhanced restrictions or enhanced allowances. Every Single One. Always has; always will. We still enact laws, recognizing our ability to reign in wild, uncontrolled, hyperbolic chaos.

    By the way, Utah allowed polygamy way back before same-sex marriage was even contemplated. It is not as if same-sex marriage is the gateway to polygamy—it developed fine all on its own.

    Bill Pratt: Surely there are ways to handle these things without marriage being involved.

    Some yes; others no. Try filing a joint tax return with a “power of attorney.” Or eclipse a policy regarding hospital visitation with a “power of attorney.” In Michigan—we also have an amendment similar to North Carolina’s—governments are now barred from providing same-sex partners with benefits. It is not an option.

    Bill Pratt, you are free to not believe me. You are free to think whatever you want regarding the actual status of the law. Regardless what the law is…or was…I think you and I are realistic enough to know we are very, VERY unlikely to change the other’s mind regarding same-sex marriage. I equally suspect most lurkers have also made up their minds as well.

    This battle is fought at the age of youth—it is the younger generation who will make the decision to allow same-sex marriage. (The statistics are not in your favor.) All I can do is point out to the younger generation the errors in the arguments against same-sex marriage, and allow them to make the decision. Relying upon incorrect information regarding the law seems to be a fairly risky proposition. If they look up the law, and see I am correct and you have not provided any support….what do you think will be more persuasive?

    Frankly, the one argument beating me every time is that your God finds homosexual sex immoral. In the same way Christians probably should not enter the legal arena against those who know the law, atheists cannot enter the argument about what your God does or does not find immoral, since we are convinced no such God even exists. We are in no position to tell you how you are wrong about your God.

    Why is it Christians fear this will be insufficient? Why do I get the impression they are frightened their God is not….big enough?

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline