Homosexual Marriage

Homosexual Marriage

A Chapter by Debbie Barry
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An essay on the morality of homosexual marriage. These are not necessarily my views now. Written for PHI 103: Informal Logic.

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Homosexual Marriage


6/25/2010


 

Thesis:

          Homosexual couples should be allowed to marry in the United States, and around the world.  Marriage, even for heterosexual couples, is more intimate and binding than non-marital cohabitation.  Homosexual couples should have the same right to that increased intimacy that heterosexual couples have had since the beginning of human history.  In addition to being more personally binding than cohabitation, marriage is more legally binding.  Homosexual couples deserve to have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.

          Marriage is about a great deal more than having unlimited access to sexual intercourse with one’s partner.  It is about more than sharing a physical address.  Marriage is also more than sharing finances with a partner, or even about raising children with a partner.  All of these things are available to any couple, whether homosexual or heterosexual.  “The purpose of marriage, as a form of heavily obligated cohabitation[is] to protect the economically weaker cohabitant from a form of exploitation that would reflect opportunistic behavior emanating from an asymmetry in the life cycle of men compared with women” (Dnes, 2007, para. 12).  What this means is that marriage is a legal construct that keeps a financially stronger partner from taking advantage of a weaker partner.  Traditionally, that has meant that a dependent wife has been protected from certain kinds of abuse by a husband who controls the family’s financial and material resources.  Practically, it has meant that a widowed wife was legally guaranteed an inheritance, and that a divorced wife was legally provided with an income or a financial settlement to support her and any children the couple had.  In today’s world, the final phrase, “of men compared with women” (Dnes, 2007, para. 12), is rendered relatively obsolete by the fact that many women earn as much as, or more than, their husbands earn.  It is not so unusual, today, to find a dependent husband with a supporting wife.  Still, regardless of which spouse is supporting and which is dependent, the simple fact that a couple is married provides legal, financial protections for the spouses.  Homosexual couples deserve to have the same protections that are enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts.  If a homosexual partner dies, his or her surviving partner deserves to inherit.  If a homosexual couple separates, the dependent partner deserves to have legally provided support.  To this end, homosexual couples should be allowed to be legally married, with all of the legal protections associated with marriage.

          To be sure, not every homosexual couple desires marriage, just as not every heterosexual couple desires marriage.  That does not negate homosexual couples’ right to have the same opportunity as heterosexual couples to make the choice about whether or not to marry.  It is wrong to grant one group of humans protection under the law while denying that same protection to another group of humans.  Each and every person deserves to have exactly the same protection under the law.  A couple’s sexual preference should have no bearing on that couple’s right to enter into a legal marriage.

 

Antithesis:

          Many people, particularly members of various Christian faiths, hold that homosexual couples should not, under any circumstances, be allowed to marry.  This belief has found its way into the laws of the United States.  In 1996, “Congress pass[ed] the Defense of Marriage Act … deciding that ‘the word 'marriage' in all acts of Congress means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife’” (Miluso, 2004, para. 2).  Under the act, no homosexual couple can be legally married, because the two partners are not of different genders.

          In a 2009 article in The Weekly Standard, Schulman (2009) states that “[g]ay marriage is not so much wrong as unnecessary” (Schulman, 2009, para. 2).  Homosexual couples may cohabit at will.  They are allowed to open joint bank accounts.  They are able to adopt children, and to raise any children either partner might have from past relationships.  Given that, and the fact that homosexual couples do not procreate together, there is no need for them to be able to marry.

          The Vatican, widely recognized even by most Protestants as the voice of authority on matters of faith, issued a statement in 1992 that “officially rejected the concept of lesbian and gay "human rights," asserting that there is "no right" to homosexuality” (Tatchell, 2001, para. 8).  An article in Conscience went a step further, saying that “[m]arriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law” (The Church and State, 2003, para. 1).  Homosexuality is seen as “immoral” (Bidstrup, 2000, para. 23), and so homosexual marriage “violate[s] the sacred institution of marriage” (Bidstrup, 2000, para. 23).  In the eyes of the church, homosexual couples live together in violation of God’s will for mankind.  Homosexual couples have no rights in the church, and are excluded from the sacramental joining of their lives in marriage, which is “[r]estrict[ed] … to heterosexual couples” (Shell, 2004, para. 32).

          As well as being unholy, “[g]ay sex is unnatural” (Bidstrup, 2000, para. 45).  Sexual union exists for procreation, and homosexual sex is biologically incapable of resulting in offspring.  Marriage is a legal means of “ensuring the continuation of the species” (Bidstrup, 2000, para. 24), and bishops of the Roman Catholic church state that “same sex unions cannot be given the same status as marriage because they ‘do not express full human complementarity and because they are inherently non-procreative’” (The Church and State, 2003, para. 2).

          Beyond the immorality of homosexuality, as defined by the Church, and the unnecessary nature of having a sexual union that is not intended to produce children, there is a belief that “[s]ame-sex marriage would start us down a ‘slippery slope’ towards legalized incest, bestial marriage, polygamy and all manner of other horrible consequences” (Bidstrup, 2000, para. 28).  As Susan Shell (2004) writes, “gay marriage represents a direct assault on the grounding authority by which life at its most serious and intimate is lived” (Shell, 2004, para. 2).  Many people fear that creating a law that allows one deviation from the safe and comfortable norm of traditional family life will, by necessity, lead to more laws that will allow more and more deviant behaviors to erode and destroy the lives of decent people.  If homosexuals are allowed to marry, then sooner or later siblings will be allowed to marry, or fathers will many their daughters and mothers will marry their sons.  Worse, some may take advantage of such laws and combine legal homosexual marriage with legal incestuous marriage, thus allowing a father to marry his son, or allowing a man to marry his brother.  This is a deeply rooted fear, and the possibility of such a future inspires violent revulsion.  To prevent such abominations, it is believed, homosexuals must not be allowed to marry.

          Homosexual marriage not only opens the possibility of other perversions of marriage, but it also causes uncomfortable changes in other aspects of traditional family life.  If homosexuals are allowed to marry, then they will raise children who believe that homosexuality is normal.  The children will grow up with two mothers or with two fathers, or even with a mother and a father who are both of the same gender.  Such practices will confuse children, and will confound their understanding of what makes a family and of what parents are in the structure of a family.  It is not unreasonable to think that some of these children will even grow up to have homosexual relationships.  Some, who are naturally inclined to be heterosexual, but who grow up surrounded by homosexuality, may even be so confused as to practice polyamory or polygamy as adults.  These are very troubling thoughts for anyone who believes that traditional, heterosexual marriage is the only right, proper, and acceptable way of life.

          Preventing homosexual marriage is necessary to be in harmony with God and with the Church.  It is necessary to ensure a natural pattern of procreation, and reliable continuation of the species.  It is also necessary to avoid the spread of any number of perversions and abominations.

 

Synthesis:

          Despite a great deal of rhetoric against homosexual marriage, the fact remains that homosexual couples should be allowed to marry, both in the United States, and around the world.  Sexual orientation should not be a consideration in deciding whether or not a couple should be allowed to marry.  Likewise, the genders of the partners should not be an issue in such a decision.  Where the Defense of Marriage Act stated that marriage is “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife’” (Miluso, 2004, para. 2), the language should be changed to a legal union between two consenting adults as mutual spouses.  In a world where a postal employee is a mail carrier, not a mailman; and where a member of Congress is a Congress person, not a Congressman; it is right that gender should also be removed from the subject of marriage.

          It has been stated that “[g]ay marriage is not so much wrong as unnecessary” (Schulman, 2009, para. 2).  That may be true but, if it is, then the same can be said of heterosexual marriage.  It is not unusual in the modern world for unmarried heterosexual couples to cohabit, to produce children, and to share finances.  Most people, however, still agree that heterosexual marriage is socially, emotionally, and economically desirable, and heterosexual couples are generally expected to marry.  Since marriage is equally necessary or unnecessary for both homosexual couples and heterosexual couples, the choice to unite in marriage should also be equally available to both groups.

          The many religious objections to homosexual marriage sound strong and convincing on the surface.  These objections are not held in common by all belief systems, however.  They do not take into account that not every couple belongs to, or subscribes to the beliefs of, the particular sects that are making the objections.  In the United States, the federal government cannot base its laws on religious theory or on religious doctrine.  It is true that a particular church or clergy person may refuse to perform or to recognize any given marriage, but the government is constrained against such behavior by the separation of church and state.  No matter what the Vatican, or any other religious group, may say about there being “absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions … [in] God's plan for marriage and family” (The Church and State, 2003, para. 1), homosexual marriage should be equal to heterosexual marriage under civil, secular law.

          Bidstrup (2000) calls “[g]ay sex … unnatural” (para. 24), and Edward Vacek (2003) states that “homosexual unions … violate human nature and the common good” (Vacek, 2003, para. 7).  These are statements that trigger fear in many people’s minds, but they are not true.  As Bidstrup (2000) tells us in the same article, “gay couples … [are] loyal to their mates, are monogamous, devoted partners. They value and participate in family life” (Bidstrup, 2000, para. 12).  The devotion of homosexual partners to their mates seems to be in line with the common good, not at odds with it.  Monogamy, too, appears to promote the common good, especially in an age where diseases are passed on through indiscriminate sex, and where approximately half of heterosexual marriages end in divorce.  Fostering strong, devoted, monogamous relationships by allowing the partners to marry, regardless of gender or sexual preference, is a natural response that the government needs to make.  Such a move promotes stable families, and helps to stabilize the society at large.

          It has been stated that allowing homosexuals to marry will lead to the legalization of numerous perversions and abominations.  This suggests to many that allowing homosexuals to marry will somehow cause, or increase the occurrence of, these atrocities.  Such an idea is simply silly fear-mongering.  Homosexual marriage has no bearing on the perversions and abominations in the world.  As far as “incest, bestial marriage, [and] polygamy” (Bidstrup, 2000, para. 28) are concerned, we need only return to my original rewording of the Defense of Marriage Act.  If marriage becomes defined as a legal union between two consenting adults as mutual spouses, then those concerns are automatically excluded.  The requirement for two prevents polygamy.  The requirement for consenting prevents bestial marriage, since animals cannot give consent.  The requirement for adults prevents most instances of incest, as children cannot marry.  Currently existing laws, such as Michigan’s Manual on Michigan Marriages, which “prohibits marriages up to 2 generations apart (up to grandparents; down to grand-children), and also prohibits many but not all ‘in-law (e.g., son's wife and wife's mother, but not brother's wife or wife's sister) and ‘step’ unions (e.g., stepmother)” (Manual on Michigan Marriage, 2003, para. 18), prevent other incest cases, since siblings and parent-child pairs are not allowed to marry.

          Homosexual couples already raise children, whether born to one or the other of the partners or adopted by the couple.  This removes any validity from the argument that homosexual marriage will teach children that homosexual relationships are acceptable.  This already happens without the benefit of homosexual marriage.  Allowing homosexual couples to marry would not taint the children of homosexuals; it would teach their children the importance of making a commitment through marriage.

          Allowing homosexual couples to marry, and to have all the rights and privileges of marriage that are currently enjoyed by any heterosexual couple that chooses to marry, is the right thing to do.  As Susan Shell (2004) states in Public Interest, “gay marriage is … a celebration of the individual's heroic struggle to find love and validation in a hostile world … [and] it is no one else's business” (Shell, 2004, para. 3).  When a heterosexual couple marries, the community celebrates with the newlyweds.  Even relative strangers celebrate the marriage of a heterosexual couple.  The same should be true for every homosexual couple that chooses marriage.  Every couple, regardless of gender or of sexual orientation, should be allowed to experience the special joy and intimacy of marriage.

 


References


Bidstrup, S.  (2000).  Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives.  Retrieved June 21,      2010, from http://www.bidstrup.com/marriage.htm


“Church and State, The.” (2003). Conscience, XXIV(3), 8.  Retrieved June 21, 2010, from           ProQuest Database.


Dnes, A.. (2007). “Marriage, Cohabitation, and Same-Sex Marriage.” The Independent       Review, 12(1), 85-99.  Retrieved June 21, 2010, from ProQuest Database.


Manual on Michigan Marriage Law.  (2003, February 18).  Retrieved June 25, 2010, from           http://courts.co.calhoun.mi.us/book012.htm


Miluso, B..  (2004). “Family ‘De-Unification’ In the United States: International Law           Encourages Immigration Reform For Same-Gender Binational Partners.” The George           Washington International Law Review, 36(4), 915-946.  Retrieved June 21, 2010, from    ProQuest Database.


Schulman, S.  (2009, June 1).  "The Worst Thing About Gay Marriage: It isn't going to           work."          The Weekly Standard, Vol. 14, No. 35.  Retrieved June 21, 2010, from           http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/533narty.asp


Shell, S.M..  (2004). “The liberal case against gay marriage.” Public Interest,(156), 3-16.           Retrieved June 21, 2010, from ProQuest Database.

Tatchell, P..  (2001). “Stop the Vatican's Anti-Gay Crusade.” Conscience, 22(3), 22.         Retrieved June 21, 2010, from ProQuest Database.


Vacek, E.C..  (2003). “The meaning of marriage.” Commonweal, 130(18), 17-19.     Retrieved June 21, 2010, from ProQuest Database.




© 2017 Debbie Barry



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Debbie Barry
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Debbie Barry
Debbie Barry

Clarkston, MI



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I live with my husband in southeastern Michigan with our two cats, Mister and Goblin. We enjoy exploring history through French and Indian War re-enactment and through medieval re-enactment in the So.. more..

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