Homosexual Marriage

I don’t care much if homosexuals, a small percentage of the population, gain the right to marry. (The right to marry? What kind of a right is this?) In general, I don’t like the idea that an activist minority can use the armed power of the state to force a cultural change at all, on a well identified majority. (Why no thave a court decree that lies are now included under the definition of “truth,” subject to fines and even to jail terms for recidivism?) I also don’t get all that agitated by the realization that civil union contracts can achieve the same objective, concrete ends, as marriage without hurting deeply the many.

At the same time, I think that both fear of the new and a simplistic reading of the Bible motivates many opponents of homosexual marriage. (By the way, given the California large majority vote on Proposition Eight, it has to include many Democrats, not just Republicans.) I am no theologian but I have trouble imagining a God who loses sleep over the fact that some men love men (and act upon it) or that some women love women (and act upon it). After all, that was His indifferent design that did it.

I am not much concerned either about the example it will set if the right to homosexual marriage becomes the law in the whole country as it is already in several states. I don’t think we are on the eve of seeing a woman marry her two Chihuahuas, one male, one female, for example. The spread of polygamy is a greater possibility. One form, polygeny, might turn out to be OK because there is a shortage of functioning males, I hear. I do believe in slippery slopes though. I have to because I am a three-times former smoker.

Whichever way the Supreme Court decision comes down, I will easily live with it. My friendship for the homosexuals of both sexes I have known and who care about the decision makes this acceptance even easier. (That’s the way it is: Principles regarding abstractions tend to melt a little in contact with the warmth of flesh and blood of real people.) Homosexual activists are not, however making friends with me by their insistence of having the Court (or the courts) overturn the results of a well established democratic process. I mean California Proposition Eight (against which I voted).

Deep inside my brain, there is also a vague notion that the issue does not reduce to morality or to tolerance. It has to do with some very basic structures of human thought based on dualities. I don’t have a good grasp of this. I will wait until I do to discuss the topic (unlike some visitors on this blog who will say anything twenty seconds after it comes to mind.)


4 thoughts on “Homosexual Marriage

  1. Jacques, we keep asking the wrong question. The real question is why the state is involved in marriage at all.

    In most churches, marriage is a sacrament (or the equivalent). No church should ever be forced to marry someone. On the other hand, centuries ago we elected to tie many civil rights and privileges to marriage. Of course, in this period, women were considered chattel, often couldn’t own property, oppose their husbands, vote, ad nauseam.

    You are correct in that civil unions could accomplish the same thing. But why differentiate and make some people, rightly or wrongly, feel like second-class citizens? Napoleon got it right when he wanted to marry Josephine and was already encombered with a wife. He separated the sacrament of marriage from the civil provileges and entitlements. A Frenchman, to be properly married, had to be married in both the church and the civil court. But the civil marriage was sufficient to establish legitimate parentage, inheritance, and so on.

    Let’s get the state out of marriage decisions and establish civil contracts as the basis for all oof these complicated partnership things that marriage currently provides entitlement for. It should be simple enough to grandfather in exisitng marriages as including the civil contract. Then churches can marry whom they please, and everyone’s rights are protected.

  2. Marianne is right: the state shouldn’t be involved in marriages. But even if the day should come when the state pulls away, which isn’t likely any time soon, we would each be left with a choice of how to regard homosexual unions. I would not regard them as having equal standing with traditional marriage which after all is rooted in the institution of the family, and that institution is central to human life. I just wish they’d stick with the term “civil unions” and leave marriage alone.

  3. Warren, thank you for your very civil comments, but I feel as if I failed to get my point across. The way we employ marriage to certify certain civil expectations and entitlements is, as far as I know, the only place in our society in which civil law and religion intermingle. The controversy around this only amplifies the wisdom of our (primarily) Deist forefathers in specifying that church and state must remain separate.

    How you choose to regard homosexual (your word) marriages should be a matter for you and your church. But it should play no part in civil law. My “traditional” marriage should not be used by the law to determine right of inheritance, hospital visitation, legitimacy of offspring, or any other purely civil matter. That should be determined by a “civil union,” which is, in fact, implicit today in every marriage. That civil union should be expressly empowered to determine those things that are often today specified as “benefits” of the marriage contract.

    If we do this, the problem goes away. Everyone who establishes a lifetime commitment has a civil union. Those who also want to be married for spiritual reasons need only find a religious institution to marry them, and there seem to be plenty of those, except for the fact that in most locations the state prohibits them from performing the marriage and the contract isn’t recognized by the federal government.

    In a more perfect world, civil law would deal with citizens on the basis of civil contracts and churches would be free to marry anyone they chose. If you didn’t like your church’s approach to “homosexual marriage,” you of course would be free to find a spiritual community that more closely mirrored your beliefs.

    Once again, thank you for the civility in your comments. I was speaking with friends at lunch today about the dearth of open and civil discussion, and I mentioned this site as an example of what was possible.

  4. I like your point that civil union contracts can achieve the same, if not better, objective. I wrote an article titled, “Marriage; Why is it Protected by the Law”, after a lot of thought on the subject. My question is why would you want the Government to make a one size fits all decision, about same sex marriage, when civil union contracts would allow each couple to make a contract concerning their relationship any way they mutually agree to. There could be as many different contracts as there are same sex couples. After years of saying you want Government to stay our of your bedroom, why would you now want Government not only in your bedroom but involved in defining your relationship?


Please keep it civil

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