Proposition 8 and Protection of The Definition of Marriage

By Joseph Delli Gatti

Until recently, marriage as a concept has slowly been eroded, and has become less and less defined by the general public.  This was recognized by various public entities, including the LDS church.  In an attempt to re-inform its own members and to re-assert it to world what marriage means, the LDS church leaders created a document entitled The Family: A Proclamation To The World (viewable at http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,161-1-11-1,FF.html).

Because marriage promotes the continuation and advancement of human life in society, the US government and other societal governing bodies around the world have recognized marriage through marriage documentation and have sought to support it through tax breaks and subsidies.  

Although homosexuals might like to make the current marriage issue into an issue of equal rights and discrimination, it’s not.  This issue is really about preserving a protected class – the married class.  Other protected classes found in the US are based on such things as age, handicap, sex, race, and even sexual orientation in some states.  These classes are protected through various measures of the government.  

For instance, handicapped people get the front parking spots at virtually every commercial location in the US, ramps and other accommodations for wheelchairs, brail writing in public buildings and in elevators, certain subsidies from the government, etc.  These measures are put into place, not to give physically impaired people an unfair advantage over everyone else or to discriminate against everyone else, but are to allow these people the opportunity to adequately function in society.  It’s to help them to be at less of a disadvantage.  

The NAACP is an organization put into place to ensure that people of color and other racial minorities are not disadvantaged in society.  Regardless of what some might think, the NAACP does not exist to ensure more rights to people of color over everybody else.  It’s stated purpose is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”  As a white person, the NAACP does not serve me or my race.  In fact, it discriminates against whites and caters most specifically to minorities.  

Imagine the NAACP fighting to ensure white-specific scholarships and providing legal representation for white people in the same cases as blacks.  It would become a pointless institution that no longer served its intended purpose – which would actually, in effect, hurt the class it was organized to protect.  Not everyone agrees in every instance with the NAACP, but it does serve a noble purpose.

Consider what would happen if we redefined “handicapped” as anyone who wanted to participate in the definition, gave them all handicap stickers for their cars, and let them park in the handicapped spots so as to not discriminate.  Now anyone could qualify as handicapped, nullifying the purpose for having those parking spaces up front in the first place.  Truly handicapped people would have a tough time finding parking spaces and would again be at a disadvantage.  Hence, we have discriminatory laws to protect certain classes of people.  We give additional assistance to these classes and write laws to help keep them on equal footing with the mainstream population.

Marriage is a protected class as well.  The government recognizes that marriage provides a unique service to society.  In a typical marriage, a man and a woman pledge to join together in an exclusive relationship, not solely as an expression of love, but to serve a greater purpose together.  This greater purpose is to create children together and to support each other in raising those children to adulthood.

A marriage provides a unique environment and foundation to children: it teaches them certain relationship and organizational skills and serves as an example for their own future marriages.  Marriage benefits not just children, but the government and society as a whole because of marriage’s unique core purpose.  So, it is subsidized through tax benefits by the government, and finds high status in society.

Some marriage situations do not perfectly serve the core purpose of marriage.  In some instances, straight couples are not able to physically produce children; however,these couples can adopt children and provide the same environment and example to those children in the same way that natural parents can provide.  So, these types of marriages should still be encouraged.

Some marriages are less than acceptable.  In some cases, spouses abuse one another or abuse their children and provide bad examples to their children.  In these situations, the couples are not forced to divorce, but do have the children removed from their home – especially when the children are neglected or abused. This not only seeks to reduce the trauma to the children, but also to eliminate from the child’s life the negative influence and bad examples of the parents.  

Some people qualify for marriage on paper, but not in spirit or deed.  The fact that some people abuse the system and take unfair advantage of tax payers and the government does not provide a good excuse to allow gays to participate in marriage.  If anything, marriage should be further restricted to prevent this type of abuse from happening.

Some people marry with no intention of ever having children.  While this is not the ideal situation for marriage, these people will often change their minds or eventually end the marriage so that one spouse can move on to a more productive relationship.  These marriages also often result in the accidental production of children and provide the same possibilities as marriages of people who can’t create children.  These aren’t ideal marriages, but are acceptable based on their potential.

Other benefits of marriage include protection from STDs, often some form of power of attorney, the piece of mind that a contractual relationship can provide, possible tax benefits, and higher societal status.  These are not primary reasons for marriage though – these are simply side benefits that occur in the accomplishment of marriage’s core objective.  Some of these associated benefits can be achieved or synthesized without a true marriage.

Some of the reasons I have heard from homosexuals about why they desire to be married include the desire for high status.  The high status associated from marriage comes from the long-term dedication and from engaging in the difficult task of creating and rearing children.

Another reason expressed by gays is to share love for, sexual relations with, and dedication for a loved one.  This is understandable but doesn’t require the enforcement of a marriage contract or a legal obligation.

To combine assets is another reason expressed.  People may currently combine assets through many various types of legal contracts for any reason desired.

Another reason is for hospital-visitation rights and for power of attorney.  Anyone can assign power-of-attorney to anybody they desire, regardless of sexual preference – it’s not exclusive to marriage.

Marriage provides tax breaks and subsidies by the government.  These efforts by the government have been put in place to promote marriage’s unique contribution to society and to compensate for the disadvantages and hardships associated with child-rearing.  In providing the same governmental “benefits” to homosexual couples (who cannot provide in the same way to society), it would in effect be like handing out handicap stickers to everyone who desires to participate in being handicapped.

Marriage, like many classes, needs the protection and benefits that only a new law can now secure.

While love, dedication to another person, tax benefits and subsidies, and exclusivity in sexual relations are all beneficial aspects of marriage, they have been put into place to promote and assist in the core purpose of marriage – a duty and responsibility of heterosexual couples to join together to create and rear children.

My family While marriage is an institution designed specifically for heterosexual couples and needs to be protected as such, equal opportunity in the workplace, in hospitals, in the community, and in situations dealing with basic human rights needs to be afforded to all people living in our country – including homosexuals.  While I am morally and religiously against homosexual sexual activity, I am not for unduly oppressing anybody in society.  Homosexual people justifiably feel the oppression and discrimination in many situations.  Issues of oppression need to be adressed and dealt with – however, not at the expense of attacking marriage.  My marriage and family needs and deserves protection that Proposition 8 provides. 

I hope this helps people to better understand why I support moves like Proposition 8.  If you agree, feel free to pass on this article.

Joey

Comments

  1. “Some people qualify for marriage on paper, but not in spirit or deed. … marriage should be further restricted to prevent this type of abuse from happening.” – Yes, I strongly agree with this!

    It’s comforting to know that some people who support Prop 8 don’t radiate overt hate for queers. On the other hand I didn’t hear any Prop 8 supporters take a stand against the message of hate, which feels like implicit endorsement.

    Your entire rational depends on the assumption that producing and rearing children is one of the most productive things an adult can contribute to society and people should be encouraged and supported in this endeavor. I agree that we need kids to support the generation before them but disagree that a marriage that can result in conception should be treated differently from one that can’t. As you say, society benefits when adults are in stable supportive relationships. The world faces a problem of too many children. I think it is great that two adults want to support each other for life, independent of if they can or do raise children.

    Power-of-attorney can’t grant you the right to visit your sick partner when a company policy or law only allows you to take time off for a family member: http://media.www.dailyillini.com/media/storage/paper736/news/2004/12/01/News/Carle.Receives.Guilty.Verdict-817463.shtml

    Telling a couple that the love and support they share is less important than another couple’s doesn’t make society better. Why should you use the law to impose your moral and religious views on others? I don’t think gay marriage is decreases the value of your marriage; that is your perception but it would not remove any rights or impose any new obligations beyond accepting the legitimacy of relationships that already existed. The number of gays who want to marry is so small compared to the number of heterosexual marriages that the “giving everyone a handicap sticker” analogy doesn’t work.

    I wish that the energy that went into the hate-filled campaign to prevent gay marriage had gone into something that more directly preserved marriage for people who are serious about supporting each other for the rest of their lives.

  2. Hi Joey,

    Thanks for your post. You seem to be open to an honest and rational discussion, which is great. I was looking for someone like you who voted for Proposition 8 because I am seeking to understand your point of view.

    So, here is a first question. You say:

    “Some marriage situations do not perfectly serve the core purpose of marriage. In some instances, straight couples are not able to physically produce children; however,these couples can adopt children and provide the same environment and example to those children in the same way that natural parents can provide. So, these types of marriages should still be encouraged.”

    I agree that a committed gay couple who wish to adopt children will not provide their children the experience of having a parent of each sex. I may even agree with you that that is not ideal. However, as you point out, many heterosexual couples do not provide an ideal experience either, in many different ways: they may divorce, they may be addicts, financially ruined, abusive, etc. I am curious as to why you would support the right of marriage to a bankrupt, addicted heterosexual couple and not to a stable, well-adjusted gay couple.

    Maybe you are going to say that a gay couple is not similar enough to the “ideal” heterosexual couple. It seems to me that this measure of “similarity” is fuzzy and based on your moral objections to homosexuality. If you consider it a serious sin, surely a gay couple is going to look radically different from a heterosexual couple. Given your moral beliefs, I can perfectly understand your point of view.

    However, it is important to keep in mind that such moral objections to homosexuality are, as far as I can see, based on religion, and therefore they cannot be enforced by the state. Other people’s beliefs see nothing wrong with homosexuality, making them similar enough to the ideal family for raising children you talk about. If you discard moral objections to homosexuality, then gay couples are similar enough to heterosexual couples and their marriage should be protected as well.

    I would love to hear from you on this.

    Best,

    Rodrigo

  3. Please make that:

    I am curious as to why you would support the right of marriage to a bankrupt, addicted, _sterile_ heterosexual couple and not to a stable, well-adjusted gay couple.

  4. “I am curious as to why you would support the right of marriage to a bankrupt, addicted, _sterile_ heterosexual couple and not to a stable, well-adjusted gay couple.”

    Thanks for your comments and question. I read both posts. I normally do try to take a rational approach to argument. Try not to hold it against me if I go beyond the rational or when our opinions of rationality differ.

    Personally, like you, I don’t support the right of marriage to abusive and addicted and otherwise harmful heterosexuals. Maybe that will be amended to Prop 8 in a few years (probably won’t be because there are enough married voters who fall into that category who wouldn’t want to be excluded). There is something to be said about financially irresponsible people being married as well. In fact, if you research the history of bankruptcy, part of the punishment in some countries, along with debtor’s prison, was having a man’s wife and children taken away from him.

    I am not completely against the idea of a well-off, stable, non-addicted, etc. gay couple raising a child in certain situations. In fact, it may be unavoidable in certain circumstances.

    If we approach marriage qualifications on a scale from very suitable for marriage and children at +10 to 0 (the line between acceptable and unacceptable) very bad -10, it might be easier to judge. There would be many factors that determine where a person is on that scale. I believe that a homosexual couple is on the “below 0” side of the scale of acceptability for marriage. That is also basically what Prop 8 says as well. There are plenty of heterosexual couples who are at -10 (seen them on shows like COPS). If it came down to a -7 couple, no positive spectrum couples were available, and a gay couple at -4, I’d rather see the children go to the gay couple. I should probably clarify this comparison as well. I’m not using the scale to say that homosexuals are -4 overall as people in every aspect of their lives – just in the specific qualification for marriage. I might personally be a -5 for a surgeon or bus driver because of my seizures, etc.

    In my opinion, parental rights, benefits, and government subsidies should be given to the couple to assist them in raising those children. This would not be called marriage though – because it still doesn’t fit the defining attributes of a marriage. Maybe guardianship or something like that would be an appropriate title.

    Marriage truly is an ancient paradigm that has survived to present day. The definition of marriage is actually the list of rules and requirements for it that cause it to function in a certain way so as to act as a finely tuned machine. When people choose to engage in marriage, and then don’t follow all of the rules, they have a weaker marriage that functions less-adequately. People who don’t follow any of the rules have no functionality associated with their marriage, regardless of a paper saying that they do. It’s like having a contract that isn’t upheld by the two of the parties involved in the contract. I’m less than thrilled when I see people abuse their marriage and take advantage of the title of marriage and basically steal from the government and reputation of marriage.

    Rather than making the requirements more lax, I am for making the requirements more strict for marriage. Balancing restrictions on marriage with societies over-all ability to populate society would bring us to the optimal balance in marriage, rather than the highest-quality or standard for marriage.

    Marriage, while associated with love and devotion to a loved one, is not actually to serve that purpose as an end. Those things are tools to ensure that the end purpose can be accomplished as smoothly as possible. Taking all emotion out of it and push marriage to its core intention: marriage is a contract engaged in by two members of the opposite sex (hopefully willingly) and God and/or the government.

    The idea is that the contract forces people to share in liabilities and assets (physical, emotional, and intelligent) in preparation for children. When the couple brings children into the world, they are already previously contracted to remain together and to share in the responsibilities of raising those children to adulthood. Divorce is especially ugly when children or a pregnant spouse is involved.

    In a married-family, the children are taught and informed how to engage in the same practice and responsibility when they grow up. Hopefully, the children will learn from the example and teachings and will have enough of a positive experience in observing the relationship of their parents, that they’ll choose to do the same when they’re ready and responsible enough to enter into that same contractual agreement.

    This system is what keeps our society alive. The higher moral standards, the better teachers, the better the examples, the more fertile, the more loving and nurturing, and the financially better off two people are, the more qualified for marriage they are. The more perfectly that these qualities of marriage are observed, the stronger and higher-functioning marriage will be.

    Gotta run. Thanks

    (edited Nov. 6, 08)

  5. Hi again Joey,

    I read what you say and I think I understand most of your position. I have just one remark and one question.

    The remark is about what you wrote: “Personally, like you, I don’t support the right of marriage to abusive and addicted and otherwise harmful heterosexuals.” I just wanted to clarify that I didn’t say I don’t support this type of marriage. I was just mentioning that not supporting gay marriage would seem to imply not supporting marriage of individuals without ideal conditions for raising children as well, so I wondered if you didn’t support them as well. Your answer makes your position more consistent to me, even if I don’t agree with it.

    The remaining question for me is the following. You say that you regard gay parents as “below 0” when it comes to qualification for marriage (for raising kids) in a scale from -10 to 10. It seems to me that this comes from your objections to homosexuality from a moral standpoint that derives from religion. Since one of the few consensus in the US seem to be the separation of state and religion, doesn’t that mean that the law cannot take this “below 0” into account?

    Thank you again.

    Rodrigo

  6. Again, just an addendum. My point was that the “below 0” you rate gay couples with seems to come from religious considerations, even though I said myself that not having a parent of each gender is not ideal. While I don’t think it is ideal, I wouldn’t say it is “below 0” either, or any grade that you be low enough to justify banning gay marriage. To give it such a low grade, it seems that one needs to bring religious considerations into account.

    Thanks,

    Rodrigo

  7. Here’s where we get more into philosophy, law, etc. Morality tends to be subjective, but carries the greatest civil and criminal punishments. Physical law and natural law provide their own consequences and don’t require enforcement (stuff like free markets and laws of inertia).

    About morality:
    Morality is often largely defined by religion – I agree. We do accept morality from other sources, but religion is probably the largest source. Government, science, religion, etc. tend to work together to enforce, explain, and create moral principles and laws.

    The government tends to regulate, promote, and suppress behavior to ensure that life and societal living are possible; however, it doesn’t usually go beyond that aspect into explaining why. Sciences do a good job of explaining how moral principles function and how to enact actions that enhance, sustain or destroy various behaviors.

    The “why” questions tend to be answered by religion and philosophy. If you ask yourself why it’s wrong to steal, you might decide that it’s because stealing takes from someone else who worked hard to earn what they have and you’d like to be treated the same way in being safe to keep what you earn. If you ask why again (why do I desire to work to possess things), you may decide that these things make life enjoyable and worth living. Why is life worth living or why is it important? If you end up wondering what the meaning of life is, then you may look to philosophy and religion. I’m not trying to be overly elementary with this, and I know I’m skipping a lot of the in-between questions that could be asked – I’m just trying to demonstrate the thought process.

    Society and laws promote life. My religion teaches that God promotes life because the same relationships that create and promote mortal life can last beyond this life and can exist in the afterlife. We believe that God wants us to “multiply and replenish the Earth” and that Adam and Eve are a metaphor for the responsibility of mankind. Without going into too much depth about religion, we come to Earth for two main reasons: to experience life and learn through making choices and to help God bring more life into the world so that our children can pass through the same learning experience. Homosexual sexual relationships don’t promote the creation of life in theory or in practice (by example). This is largely why, and in what way, I believe that a homosexual marriage would be “less than 0” on the scale mentioned earlier.

    We have government to regulate or protect marriage; we have sciences to explain how; we have philosophy and religion to explain why. I have taken classes dealing with law in college and found that nearly all law created by man is based on morality and is enforced by man when someone is caught in violation. We vote on laws and require a majority vote (except when legislated from the bench) to show that the majority of the people desire to live under a proposed law.

    Thanks for posting, sharing your opinion and for asking good questions.

  8. Hi Joey,

    Thank you for your reply. I am doing a careful and deep reading of what you say because I think that, at this point in time, it is important that people reach out to understand what the other side is saying. I think it is also good that the discussion is staying online for others to see and hopefully contribute to the general debate.

    I agree with you that sometimes we have to take the risk of sounding too simplistic and skip the in-between questions for the sake of keeping focus.

    I have read your article on your subjective perspective on gay marriage and I must say it really helped me understand your position better. It was like adding color to a photograph.

    In my attempt to fully understand your position, one question remains unclear to me. You say that gay couples are not ideal for raising children because children will not have role models from both sexes. You also bring up moral objections to homosexuality, some of them based on religion. I mentioned that religious objections should not be the basis of a law because the US seems set on separating law and religion. Is this something we are on the same page on? Do you agree that religious objections should be left out about this? If so, barring religious objections, what are the remaining objections to gay marriage, besides children not having a parental role model of each sex? I think this is an important piece that I am missing for understanding your position.

    Thanks again!

    Rodrigo

  9. I’ve had this question posed to me before about religion and morals imposing a standard on people. I think morals should be studied, both in concept and origin in order to determine their importance and relevance in our society. Oh, I use the word society a lot in here. Society, as I use it, is a functioning social and economic system made up of all the people who choose to live among one another to contribute to the system and their own enhanced ability to be provided happiness as individuals as a participant in the system.

    One of the biggest influences in culture, understanding, and conduct is morality preached in religious settings. Morality doesn’t just serve religious people who submit themselves to a form of deity. Morality helps us all to function together in society, religious and non-religious people – to care for one another and to respect certain agreed-upon rights of individuals. Without going into too much about my thoughts on morality, I’ll just refer you to the wikipedia article on “morality”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morality

    Some religions (and in my opinion, many Christian sects) focus on “because God says says it’s right or wrong” reasoning rather than on what purpose a given moral law serves society or why God would say that a moral principle is right or wrong. If God serves any purpose other than to just exist and oppress people, if He actually has a game plan or some objective purpose that should be accomplished, then the laws and religious morality would actually need to serve a purpose as well. Morality, in general, serves to benefit society as a whole, religious and non-religious. I think that a good religion will teach both temporally and spiritually. Religion, in an ideal situation, would teach strong societal moral principles and build on those principles to enhance and complement the base law within its membership.

    If the only answer a religious person can come up with for their reasoning as to why something is right or wrong is “because God says so,” then they either understand a lot or they lack all understanding behind the principle. In other words, some people might recite that answer; some people would acknowledge the benefits to society and possible benefits that reach beyond society; and, in the end, the benefits that reach beyond life and society are thought to be what serves God’s long-term purposes. If you ask why God has the goals and end game that He has, in order not to revert back to lower understanding for an answer, we just accept that God promotes and seeks to maximize life, love, and other principles because that’s just how He is – “because He says so.” I do think that when a lot of people say “because God says it’s right or wrong”, they all to often have no clue why or how beyond what a preacher tells them. I suspect that this is the religious environment that most people have discontent towards. It’s the ignorance (both willful and un-willful) and the hatred that is blindly served up that frustrates people seeking understanding. You can’t reason with that type of person.

    Religions and churches can do a great job of teaching why God would give a law and how the law can bless or punish us through obedience or rebellion (disobedience). They can explain the main societal benefits and how morals can stretch beyond the boundaries of society and life. I think that my church does a wonderful job of this. It’s still up to individuals to put forth the effort to learn and understand.

    At BYU (a private University), where I attend school, a quote is found in many places around campus: “The glory of God is intelligence” (or, in other words, light and truth). It says that God doesn’t just exist to exist, and that He doesn’t serve to oppress for some twisted kick. He truly has a higher purpose and things that we can learn about Him through His laws.

    Although homosexuals lack in, to varying degrees, sexual morality, that doesn’t mean that a homosexual has abandoned morality altogether. It doesn’t hint that a homosexual person can’t benefit or engage in morality. One violation doesn’t exclude someone from all morality. It doesn’t make morality their enemy. It doesn’t banish homosexuals completely from society either. I suspect that everybody falls short somewhere from being completely and perfectly moral in every aspect of their lives. If you fall short, you can either compensate, fix the moral shortcoming, and/or do nothing about it at all. Everyone takes a different approach. However, it’s not the weaknesses or the individual short-comings that make society strong. Society depends on moral strengths of individuals to allow it to be strengthened.

    Society is served largely through morals, morals that come from multiple sources. Morality comes largely from religion at its core and answers the question “why?” that many people might ask when seeking understanding for the law.

    After being very wordy about this, let me just say that morality has it’s place in laws and in society, regardless of whether or not the participants of society adhere to a particular religion or any religion at all. Morals serve society and enable it to function. We should never get rid of morality. I think more people need to understand moral principles from a more logical perspective though – something that a lot of people just don’t bother to explore.

  10. A real marriage provides stability for the spouses and any children. Society’s need for the stability provided by a partnership has not changed since ancient times but society’s need for it to produce children is falling. We still need healthy children but I think it is fine for adults to not procreate without penalty. In particular a partnership that can’t produce children should receive the same social support as one that probably can.

    There are already government benefits (dependency deduction, public eduction, etc) for children and these do not vary with the marital status of the parents. Removing a restriction on marriage does not change the incentives for having children. All adults should help pay for eduction; perhaps adults without children should pay more because they don’t need to get the kids to class 😛

    Saying that letting gays marry is making the requirements more lax is suggesting that their love and support for each other is less strong or real than that shared between a straight man and woman.

  11. Thanks for your input, Tom. As far as hospital visitations, etc., I don’t see why a person can’t have anybody they want visiting them – gay or straight. These are one of the better uses of that abt $70m to which I was referring. Rather than fight a straights-only marriage law, securing hospital visitation rights, and possibly co-ownership for houses, etc. would have been a better use of funds.

    I have gone back and read the article that was published in the wehonews.com. The editor didn’t display my article as I wrote it. Instead, he chopped bits and pieces of it into unreadable sentences and fragments from various communications we’d had. He loaded the page full of ads and pictures of religious people walking around with signs that say stuff like “homosexuals are an abomination to God” and some other things.

    When sooo much money was used in such an inefficient way, my article gets chopped to pieces, and LDS churches are being vandalized and picketed, it tells me that this issue was fought by anti-8 activists emotionally and without a logical or rational approach. These people don’t want reasoning and discussion. I value people like Rodrigo_braz and you who can engage in civil dialog using respectful language and rationality. It helps break apart the stereotype that begins to form with any observed trend in behavior.

    Thank you guys, I appreciate your comments on the subject, and I hope you also came away with better understanding on why this stuff is so important to me.

  12. I’m also happy to engage in sincere civil dialog with anyone who steps up to my picket sign. Not all who protest are guided only by emotion.

    Both sides painted the other as trying to manipulate the government to further their own agenda. It is hard to stay calm when you see people opposing you with “God hates fags” signs or vandalizing churches. I think the main benefactors of extremist actions are the media companies that sell campaign ads as the hype escalates and the chance of real progress decreases 🙁

    Re: hospital visitation
    The issue is an employee policy that treats time off to visit a spouse differently from time off to visit a partner.

    I think we agree that civil unions offer less protection and respect than a civil marriage. But disagree about the importance of possible procreation as a prerequisite to getting the full civil benefits of marriage.

  13. Hi Joey,

    Thanks for your reply. It took me a few days to write a reply because I had to carefully think of what to say. It seems that now we got to a level where we need to consider several branching arguments, and so it takes more work and care. I ask for your patience in following what I wrote below.

    I agree that the idea of morality can come from religious arguments, or society-functioning arguments. I see that you are claiming the ban on gay marriage is based on society-functioning arguments only, not on religious claims at all.

    Now I would like to better understand why you claim gay marriage would be immoral from a society-functioning point of view.

    From what you have written, I can so far gather two reasons for your claim:

    A) Gay marriage would not be similar enough to biological-offspring-producing couples. You say that heterosexual sterile couples should be able to marry because they “provide the same environment and example to those children in the same way that natural parents can provide” but that gay couples would not.

    B) They do not provide children with a parent of each sex. This is an argument I put forward for the non-ideality of gay marriage, with which you seemed to agree.

    Let me ask questions about each of those reasons separately.

    Reason A:

    I would like to better understand why you claim that a gay married couple would not provide the same environment and example to children as a sterile heterosexual couple would. Let me again divide in cases: “same environment” and “same example”.

    A1. Same environment: it seems to me that the environment would be the same, a nurturing, loving family unit. I can imagine two possible objections to that: that it would be an immoral environment (but this would be circular reasoning, since whether this is immoral or not is precisely what we are trying to decide), and that it would not have parents of both genders (but then see Reason B).

    A2. Same example: again, it looks to me as if they would provide the same example of a nurturing, loving family unit. They would not be an example of biological-producing-offspring union, but then neither are sterile heterosexual couples. They would not be an example of heterosexual union, but I am not seeing why that, *in itself*, would be relevant. Again, the “immoral union” reason comes to mind, but again it would be circular. Another reason would be a belief that children may follow the example and become gay themselves, but it seems that people do not turn out gay or straight based on examples. Maybe this is where we disagree? It does seem that a lot of people want gay marriage banned because they are afraid it would increase the number of their children “turning gay.”

    Reason B:

    I was the one who first mentioned gay couples would not be ideal because they don’t provide both gender roles to children. I mentioned that many other scenarios are also not ideal, like indebted or unstable, abusive people. I would add to that many other non-idealities, such as people who travel for work most of the time, or severely disabled people. Surely abusive people, maybe even people absent most of the time, have a more negative impact on children than not having parents of both sexes. You agreed with me and said that you are for the restriction of marriage. So I understand that you are for banning marriages which are not ideal, up to some margin of tolerance. For example, you would be ok with the non-ideal marriage of sterile people, but not ok with the marriage of unstable people. Is that correct?

    So, if I get it right, you want to ban all non-ideal marriage, and since Prop. 8 bans some of it, you support it. But it seems to me that it would be unfair to restrict it “in pieces” like that. It seems unfair to take away something from a group and not from others, using an argument that actually applies to all of them.

    With respect to the two-gender-role models, it would seem even more unfair, because this non-ideality is not as severe as many others that would be untouched. For example, it seems that someone who travels for work most of the time would have a much more negative impact on their children. So taking it away from a group (whose reasons for having that taken away are weaker than some other untouched group) seem unfair to me, especially when there is no talk of ever touching the other groups at all.

    Here is an analogy that may make this point clearer. Wouldn’t a measure banning smoking for women, under the argument that it is unhealthy, be very unfair and unworthy of support, even if one would like to see smoking banned in general for all men and women? From that analogy, wouldn’t it be unfair to ban non-ideal marriage for gays when there is plenty of non-ideal marriage around that is not being questioned?

    I realize this is a lot of points for a single message, but after much thought this was the simplest I could reduce it to. I guess it only confirms the subject is complicated and that much thought and dialogue is necessary, after all. I am glad we are doing it.

    Thanks again.

    Rodrigo

  14. I appreciate your approach to this.

    From a societal-based moral approach, I think that we could (without getting overly philosophical) look at the benefits that people hope to secure for themselves and for society by producing offspring within the bounds of a protected and governmentally regulated marriage.

    It’s physically possible to create children and rear them outside of marriage. It’s possible for gay couples to reproduce through artificial insemination, etc. There are many alternative possibilities for producing and rearing children. Marriage is the “approved” method for getting it done.

    Another way to look at this might be to observe something like the auto industry. Nearly anybody is capable of making a car or some kind of wheeled vehicle. Cars can function and can act as vehicles for driving people where they want to go. However, the government restricts which kinds of cars are allowed on public streets and freeways. Safety, emissions, and other qualifications must be met in order to legally drive a car on the road. That doesn’t mean that all cars allowed on the freeway are equally safe or equally equipped for travel, but the governmental regulations have been met. Marriage is similarly restricted, qualified, and regulated.

    From a religious standpoint, the reasoning is the same but also takes the afterlife into consideration. LDS people believe that a heterosexual marriage will continue into the next life and will serve an even greater purpose than it serves in this life. Procreation is considered a sacred responsibility. In the Biblical account of Adam and Eve, God put them together and commanded them that when they should leave their parents, they were to cling to each other and to become one flesh. This was the marriage commandment. The becoming one flesh from two people isn’t the physical joining of their bodies – it’s the creation of a child.

    Also in the beginning of the Bible, it describes a tree that sheds fruit. The fruit falls to the ground and the seeds raise up to become trees that grow and mature and bear their own fruit in the same manner. It’s the basic cycle of life deliberately symbolized through a tree. In fact, the entire book of Genesis focuses on the reproductive cycle, marriage, and its importance to God and mankind.

    If people are going to bring children into the world, shouldn’t they do it within the protective and facilitative bounds of marriage? If people produce children, they should act responsibly and provide equal assistance and support to each other in rearing their children. They join their assets, join their efforts, and divvy out responsibilities in an effort to provide the best environment possible for each other and for their (future) children. Adultery and other fornications are prohibited and discouraged because they could cause a child to be brought into the world without those protections and necessities.

    It would be more fair to ban all unacceptable marriage practices at once. There are several instances where it has taken decades to ensure that laws were considered complete and fair – women’s voting rights coming long after men’s being one of those things. While Prop 8 may not have included a lot of other unacceptable situations or practices, it did further protect marriage. A lot of other unacceptable practices such as adultery are already outlawed but are not truly enforced. Re-enforcing these laws should accompany an act like Prop 8. Some marriage laws that used to exist have been removed and deemed unconstitutional, etc. It’s my view that the possible punishments were possibly what was unconstitutional and not necessarily the restriction itself. I don’t study law in depth, but do remember a few. If we want to drive, we have to qualify for a license. If we stop qualifying or decide to break the rules, our driving privileges are taken away. I think that marriage should be dealt with similarly.

    Marriage is only about love insomuch as it love provides a means to further facilitate reproduction and child rearing. Affectionate, dedicated relationships can exist without marriage. Because I value marriage for its core purpose, and because the reproductive cycle has been instilled in me as being so sacred and vital for society, religion, family, etc., I would be hurt and sad if one of my children decided not to follow in my footsteps. It wouldn’t negate my love for them, but having this marital potential go unrealized would diminish the return on my and my wife’s personal and combined efforts. Regardless of whose fault it was, whether due to hormone imbalance or genetic disposition or lifestyle choice or abuse or whatever, it would still be tough on me as a father.

    When it comes to having children, the best case scenario and most acceptable would be for the child to be raised by a man and a woman who are married and who live the standard to perfection. Realizing that this may not always be the case (or possible in every situation), the level of acceptability declines from this point. In some cases, a less than acceptable situation would be desirable over a completely unacceptable situation – when an acceptable situation doesn’t exist. Marriage should be the definition of the ideal and vital situation for creating and raising families. That doesn’t mean that other people are less desired or valued based on their ability to marry – or based on their ability to own a drivers license for that matter.

    —-

    One final point is that when I was taking the necessary classes to obtain my real-estate license, we were taught about various forms of legal and illegal forms of discrimination. We talked about a religion’s (and other organizations’) ability to discriminate against certain classes of people. The idea was that if something was a choice (take eating chocolate for example) and was also a disqualifying quality, it wouldn’t be considered discriminatory. Someone can give up having sex as where a black person can’t give up being black. In this way, the institution of marriage can’t be considered discriminatory either. If a gay man and a gay woman decide to join together and obey the rules of marriage (hold true to the definition), then they’re welcome to participate in marriage. It’s not homosexuals who are excluded, it’s homosexual relationships that aren’t allowed in marriage. Just like married people are forced to give up former lovers and forsake outside relationships (even if more appealing), homosexuals would be forced to give up theirs. Some food for thought perhaps, anyhow.

  15. Hi Joey,

    Sorry for the long absence. I got really busy this past month.

    Here are my thoughts and a couple of questions on your last post.

    If I understand it right, you are saying that gay marriage is immoral because it is not ideal, and is not ideal because there isn’t a parent of each gender. Do you think that marriage of disabled people and people with large debt are also immoral? They seem to me more harmful than not having a parent of each sex. Do you support a ban on those specific types of marriage?

    Thank you,

    Rodrigo

  16. I just realized I did not address your final point about gays already having the right to marriage (only heterosexual).

    A heterosexual marriage is extremely inadequate for a gay person. So while they have the right to do that, the cost for them is enormous, much higher than for a heterosexual person to be in a heterosexual marriage. While the government can impose higher costs on a certain group, it has to justify that difference. From what you are telling me, I gather that justification is the immorality of gay marriage, which is what we are discussing in the other thread. So really it seems to me that this point is equivalent to that one, and that trying to clarify the morality issue would suffice to resolve both threads.

    Cheers,

    Rodrigo

  17. Also, I would like to clarify that the focus of my question from Dec 14 is on the *immoral* word. I wish I had simply written:

    “If I understand it right, you are saying that gay marriage is immoral because it is not ideal, and is not ideal because there isn’t a parent of each gender. Do you think that marriage of disabled people and people with large debt are also IMMORAL? They seem to me more harmful than not having a parent of each sex.”

    Thanks,

    Rodrigo

  18. Hi Joey,

    Happy New Year! 🙂 This is a friendly reminder about this conversation. Hope you can make it back at some point.

    Best,

    Rodrigo

  19. Thanks for your comments. I’ve been extremely busy with finals, health, family, etc. and haven’t been able to respond until now.

    To answer your question, morality (societal based) is not only about the ideal, it is about what the society deems as essential. Sound nuclear families are the core unit of society. These units require protection. The nuclear family, as a functioning unit, needs preservation as well. This unit is made up of a man and a woman (lawfully wedded and committed to support each other) and their children (to which the purpose of that commitment is realized).

    We could add certain physically handicapped people, cheating spouses, financial irresponsible people, and many others to the list of inadequacies or shortcomings of people who are allowed to marry. Because Prop 8 and this topic adresses homosexuality, that’s all I’ll focus on here.

    In some situations, some people who are married should not be allowed to be married. Some people could be ideal with just a little government assistance or by making a few changes. Homosexual couples fall outside of the realm of natural reproductive relationships.

    Morality can be a very interesting topic to study. In marriage, the phrase “marriage ethics”, which are morals relating specifically to marriage, may provide more understandable and relatable application to your question. People with large debt (myself included – I’ve got a ton of school debt) may be immoral if their debt effects their ability to provide adequate care to their children, etc.

    In some situations, people with too much wealth or focus on money may also be morally challenged when it comes to marriage and rearing children. Essential to natural reproduction is in fact having one parent of each sex. Children growing up with understanding taught through example and parental teaching is considered an essential part of marriage.

    In marriage, a set of moral guidelines established through law, society, and religion (God specifically) aren’t just regulations or rules for meeting arbitrary requirements of participation; these moral guidelines are thought of as essential instructions to creating a successful family. The laws and ethics (much like in math, chemistry, etc) provide a type of formula for creating a family.

    While people can add more to these principles to make family life more enjoyable or fulfilling, taking from those basic elements (ie. removing the part about man and woman) could diminish or completely destroy marriage’s functionality altogether.

    So yes, other aspects of marriage could and are often damaged by other issues besides homosexuality. While Prop 8 is a move in the right direction, it doesn’t, and wasn’t intended to, fix every flaw or challenge that marriage currently faces. I know Prop 8 must seem unfair because it doesn’t equally adresse every problem found in marriage. Hopefully we can soon arrive at that point: fixing other major issues that deteriorate marriage.

  20. Removing the part about marriage being only for a man and woman marginally diminishes marriage’s value. As you stated in your original post society gains in many ways when it supports a couple that wants to remain committed to each other, even if they can’t procreate.

    Everyone agrees that having a man and woman is essential for natural reproduction but the possibility of natural reproduction shouldn’t be a prerequisite for a civil marriage. I doubt laws that deny or grant the right to marry will have any impact on the birth rate so why should the need to produce children factor into the decision?

  21. Tom:

    There are also many ways and environments in which children are conceived and raised. Many people rear children on their own without a spouse or any additional support. Gay people rear children as well.

    Although all of the variable situations exist, marriage is a very specific way to accomplish procreation and child rearing. It’s not that alternative scenarios don’t or can’t possibly exist, it’s that marriage provides a very specific environment in which a nuclear family can benefit the most – some (including myself) would argue that it’s not just the ideal situation, but that it is an essential situation for a nuclear family to take place.

    The word “marriage” denotes a paradigm for a cycle of procreation. Many heterosexual couples qualify for marriage, get married, and then don’t (or can’t) fulfill their roles within that system – ultimately breaking the rules that make up the paradigm.

    Changing the definition of marriage is, in all reality, changing the rules of marriage so that it no longer becomes a system to benefit society through procreation. It then becomes a system of pointless government subsidies, baseless honor, and dedication to a team with no pro-creational purpose.

    Marriage is not about exclusivity in a relationship; it’s not about love (as an end); and it’s not about combining assets and/or benefitting from simple paperwork and government subsidies. These things are all tools used to ensure the best pro-creational relationship of any other pro-creational relationship or action. To me, this is worth preserving and protecting.

    There’s a reason that Mc Donald’s preserves their company name – why not just any hamburger company can put the Mc Donald’s logo on their restaurants. Mc Donald’s represents a specific paradigm for producing quality goods (whether you prefer them to Burger King is irrelevant). Mc Donald’s doesn’t allow other restaurants to hold its logo. It’s not that the others are bad chains or that they’re worth less, they just need to conform to the paradigm to be included and to warrant a Mc Donald’s logo and official stamp of approval.

  22. Hi Joey,

    Sorry for the long absence. I went home (abroad) for a couple of weeks and it was harder to find the time.

    Regarding your last reply to me, let me review our line of reasoning so far. We started by you saying that gay marriage would be unacceptable (rating “below 0” in terms of acceptability for marriage). Later, it seems that you based that on a notion of morality. Then I asked you what “moral” meant, and it seems to me that you based morality not only on religion, but on a notion of “ideal”. We agreed to leave religion out of the argument because law cannot be based on religion in the US, so we were left with the “ideal” characterization of morality. So I asked you why gay marriage would be less moral (less ideal) than other cases. You latest reply seems to be saying that it is less moral not because it is not ideal, but because it goes against what “society deems as essential.” But this sounds like saying it is unacceptable to society, which is where we started, so I am left with the impression that this is circular. Am I missing something?

    My questions so far have aimed at going deeper into the argument while trying to avoid “going back” and getting circular. I realize this is tricky because what may be two separate things for you may look like just a rephrasing to me, so it may sound like a sound argument to you while it may look like a circular argument to me.

    Do you think we could sketch a line of argument that clears any question of circularity? I think attempting this would help a lot.

    I can think of some candidate such arguments: “gay marriage goes against the foundations of society because it does not involve natural reproduction”, or “gay marriage goes against the foundations of society because it is not moral” or “gay marriage goes against the foundations of society because it does not provide a good example to children”. The first one does not seem satisfactory per se because we do not consider other unions lacking natural reproduction as going against the foundations of society. The other two seem incomplete. The “not moral” one seems incomplete because it is yet not clear why it is not moral (you dismissed the definition of “moral” based on “ideal”, so I am not seeing what you are meaning by “moral”). The “not a good example” one seems incomplete because I don’t see a non-circular explanation of why it is not a good example. Do you have any other candidates?

    Sorry if this is not clear enough. I would really appreciate if we could make the line argument more explicit.

    Best,

    Rodrigo

  23. When we use the term “ideal” we’re using it in a way that takes into account religion indirectly. So, we can’t discount it and leave it out together. However, we should also recognize that many religions exist (whether deity-based or not) and share common values. These macro values found among all religions or belief systems can be considered moral values. When more than 97 percent of the world’s population shares certain common religious values (such as thou shalt not kill or steal or lie, etc), those values become universally accepted, taught, and enforced by the majority.

    Regardless of whether you adhere to any specific religion other than the imaginings and whims of your own heart, in order to live among the other 97+ percent, you have to adhere to their rules and values.

    So, many of our laws are based on these universally accepted principles, are taught (even to non-religious people), and are enforced through various forms of policing efforts. The only way to avoid these laws and guidelines is to find somewhere to live where everyone else feels the same way or to find a place far away from the rest of society.

    Luckily for the minority groups (to which nearly everyone belongs because everyone has unique or rare attributes), one of the values of the majority is to reasonably accommodate or tolerate people who disagree with the majority. Some behaviors not tolerated, however, are ones that interfere with key principles upon which the society is founded. The people who commit these acts are punished, denied service or participation, or are assisted to meet the standards. Mental institutions, prisons, rehabilitation centers, and foster care centers are a few proofs of this concept.

    One of society’s greatest values deals with the creation, preservation, and continuation of human life. This is for religious reasons as well as for secular reasons. It’s a cornerstone of society’s survival and well being. For governments, businesses, environmental groups, families, and other societal organizations to exist, people must exist. While creating a baby isn’t difficult, creating a baby who will grow up following societal values and producing more offspring who will continue on in the same pattern is quite a bit more of a challenge. Trust me, as a dedicated father of three, I know.

    In order to ensure that these types of good child-rearing situations exist, society allows quite a lot of leeway and impropriety that it probably shouldn’t. It’s a lot like chumming to catch a big fish. The more bait you throw out into the water, the better the chance you have of catching a really big fish… until you realize that ALL the fish in the area (big and small) will be caught. By increasing quantity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can pick and choose the big fish, you have to weed through them to find the good ones. It’s inefficient and costs the fishermen (the govt. and society) a lot of money. By opening the flood gates for even more non-reproductive relationships, the problem will only get worse. Benefits and subsidies would be required to be spread more thin among more people.

    I keep falling asleep as I’m writing. I’ll try to finish this up tomorrow if I have time. Welcome back to the US. I hope your travels were enjoyable. I actually just won a free airline ticket to anywhere Southwest Airlines flies. I’m still deciding what we’ll do with it.

    I also may start a separate topic about morality and ethics. It seems as though this area is tough for many people to understand. They know it’s bad to kill, but don’t know why. If they know why, they don’t acknowledge the source of their reasoning. It could turn out to be a fun topic.

  24. Hi Joey,

    Thanks for the welcome back (I hope you figure a nice destination for that ticket) and your last message. I found it very clear, even if you were falling asleep while writing it. 🙂

    If I understood correctly, I asked you why “marriage being reserved for straight people” (let’s call that X for short) is essential/moral, and your answer seemed to be basically that “because a majority finds X essential/moral”.

    I agree with you on your point about the majority’s opinion. By living and participating in a society, I am implicitly agreeing to follow the procedures determining law, which is (roughly) determined by the majority. It would be immoral to just go against that majority/law (in general — I am ignoring extreme cases for simplicity). That’s fair enough. But then it is *following* the law that is essential/moral, and I as far as I can see this does not imply that the law *itself* is essential/moral. The majority/law can make mistakes.

    So, going back to your answer, I think your point ends up being about accepting to *follow* the majority’s decision. I don’t think we can answer “Why is X essential/moral?” with “Because the majority thinks it is essential/moral” since it begs the question; I can follow it with the another question: “Why does the majority think X is essential/moral?”.

    From what you wrote, it seems that your answer to that last question would be “Because the majority is informed by their religious values that X is essential/moral”. I agree with you that this is why the majority thinks that. However, this same majority/law agrees that they would not enact laws based on religious principles, and that leads me to conclude that, for that reason, this same majority should refrain from making that into law. Does this make sense?

    So either the majority thinks X is essential/moral because of religious values, or some other, non-religious values. You also talked about raising children. That seems non-religious enough. So an alternative answer could be “because we need to reproduce and raise children in good conditions”. Note the word “good”; the race seems to be reproducing as much as it needs. We are left to explain why X is needed for good child raising. This seems to be where we are at at the moment. I would appreciate an argument for that that does not use “because society thinks it is essential/moral”, “because children need good examples” (that would just beg the use of the word “good”), “because that’s the ideal case” (the last one would would require a reason as to why we allow so many non-ideal cases but not this one and, besides, something does not need to be ideal in order to be good).

    Yes, the topic about morality and ethics could be really interesting. I agree that most people don’t really know where theirs are coming from.

    Thanks again for the great discussion!

    Best,

    Rodrigo

  25. Thank you [edit] for your participation and for your conclusions. I hope that our dialog can inspire thought for others who happen upon this blog as well. I appreciate your level-headedness and sincerity.

    The greater good for society is determined by common consensus of opinion of the participants – unless you can believe that something (or someone) bigger than society gave us a purpose that reaches beyond our individual and mortal whims and self-centered desires. Adding the concept of God and a purpose that supersedes (although very often coordinates with) societal goals and personal happiness.

    As a member of the LDS church, I believe that ensuring these specific marriage relationships, specifically marital relationships that sustain solid cycles of reproduction, is not only what God desires for His own purposes, which stretch beyond the bounds of societal contentment, but also protects a very specific and regimented way for us to benefit society and to ensure society’s continuance while providing a source of personal happiness and joy in life to spousal participants. Many people contribute in many different ways to society, to their communities, and to their loved ones. I’m grateful for the vast and varying contributions of other people around me in my family, community, state, country, and world that I’ve recognized, and also feel blessed and honored that I have the ability and means to provide this specific service and to act in this capacity as well.

    Thanks again [/edit] and take care.

    Joey

  26. Hi Joey,

    Thanks again for your last reply. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get an answer to my latest question from it. I had asked the (non-religious) reasons supporting the majority’s position that gay marriage would be bad for society. From what I gathered from your explanations so far, we ended up with either “that’s what the majority thinks” or “this is based on religious values”; the former sounds circular and the latter sounds legitimate for an individual’s opinion but not for supporting US law. When we tried to go deeper on the “majority’s opinion” line, it seems that we hit the religious foundation again.

    Your last message sounded like you were rounding up the discussion. I have repeated that last question a couple of times now, and I don’t want to be pushy. I would just like to say that, from what I saw so far, it seems to me that your position is being derived from your religious beliefs and values, and I think you agree with me that this is not a valid basis for law in the US.
    I can’t guarantee I am right, but that’s how it looks to me.

    I really appreciate your time in talking to me and articulate your position further. I hope more people do it like that in the future.

    Sincerely yours,

    Rodrigo

  27. I think that it’s all tied together in a symbiotic cycle. That may be why it may seem circular. I made a rough chart as to my view concerning this.

    click here to see it.

    It’s sort of like government made up of people and created by people to serve people – people who in turn pay taxes and sustain the government. So is it people serving the government or the government serving people. It may seem circular, but it functions and serves the participants. The government serves the people who serve the government who serve society as a whole, which in turn benefits the people and government.

    When you get to the core of the issue, you find that it never ends. You either turn to your own desires as an end or to God or to some other greater function that you believe is greater than your own indulgence. Laws allow the maximum freedom possible for the most people possible (ideally), so that they can reach greater benefit than they otherwise could without participating in society and obeying the laws.

    Hopefully between the chart and the explanation, it’ll be clear enough. Marriage and the nuclear family is at the center of it all – it’s what allows any of this to be possible. In my mind, it’s worth defining and even restricting more than it currently is to ensure it’s strongest existence possible.