Sunday, August 14, 2005

Responding to Joe

Joe responds to my post in support of gay marriage by noting a part of Alfonso's original post that I left unaddressed:


That is a fair point, but it fails to address Alfonso's more potent argument (and the one he unfortunately seemed to stress less), which is that a man and woman close to one another in kinship cannot marry. To me, this is concrete, globally-accepted, and long-standing proof that we limit the definition of marriage at the expense of the happiness of an (admittedly small, but so is the homosexual set as a percentage) group of people. In this case, over a period of centuries we came to the conclusion that those who happen to fall in love with a relative ought not marry.

A brother and sister could theoretically have a long and joyous married life. Yet we forbid them to wed, and deny them that chance at happiness. Why? Forget religion; forget constitutionality. It is a decision that society has made in order to enforce a certain social order. In fact, we limit marriage to non-kin largely because of procreative and health issues, which is the chief reason many oppose gay marriage.

My argument does not stipulate that elected governments lack the authority to limit the definition of marriage at the expense of a small group of people. To be clear, I wrote:


Because I don't believe this is a constitutional issue, it is up to the states to define marriage and the legal privileges and responsibilities associated with it. Every state legislature should expand its definition of marriage to allow it to include two members of the same sex.
Holding the position that legislatures should exclude siblings from marrying while permitting same-sex marriages is not inconsistent. So the key question is the one Joe raises in his second paragraph above: against the loss of opportunity for potential members of same-sex couples, what would be the beneficial outcomes of not extending marriage to same-sex couples? Joe refers to procreative and health issues. I don't find either compelling as a reason to exclude homosexual unions in marriage given that the behavior is legal, but I haven't seen Joe's particular arguments.

Other blogs commenting on this post

3 comments:

Bibamus said...

you wrote:

Because I don't believe this is a constitutional issue, it is up to the states to define marriage and the legal privileges and responsibilities associated with it. Every state legislature should expand its definition of marriage to allow it to include two members of the same sex.

and also:

What part of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is enhanced for anyone by restricting the opportunities of homosexuals to participate in marriage in the same ways as heterosexuals? I do not believe that society is made better off when it goes out of its way to marginalize any group of people.

It is difficult for me to get my head around how one can believe these two things simultaneously. You argue that every state should expand its definition of marriage thusly, but at the same time you must know that all of them won't do that. What to we tell the gay people in Texas? "Move?"

Let's grant that you are correct that this is not properly a constitution issue - why not make it one and call for an amendment? If gay marriage is the right thing to do, it is the right thing to do everywhere. And having a Federal government means that sometimes States are going to get told what to do, whether they like it or not. We should not be afriad to use that power when individual liberties are at stake.

Andrew Samwick said...

You are right that a Consitutional amendment would be an appropriate course of action. And such an amendment would need to be ratified by 3/4 of the state legislatures. So, again, advocates need to get busy in the state legislatures.

ent lord said...

Marriage being both a civil and religious contract frequently tangles one with the other. In the past, we have seem polygamy outlawed while interracial marriages were finally allowed in the latter half of the century. At times, the state seems to have a compelling interest in the oversight of marriage but other times, the injunctions regarding who can marry whom are more based on religious reasoning rather than the state's needs.
If it is really a compelling state need to prohibit brother/sister marriages (and I am not championing that cause) it seems the states would require DNA testing to determine relationship. Sadly, not every child is raised by a biological parent and in some cases, children are raised, unaware of half-siblings.
Just for a nightmare, how many half brothers do marry half sisters, especially in earlier times with smaller communities and the chance of adultery or rape, in producing individuals who are biologically related but are not legally related. (As a side thought, if there is a biological reason for prohibiting sisters and brothers from marrying, why can't adopted siblings, who are legally but not biologically related, marry?)