Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?
Marriage should be between one man and one woman.
This may be a Q1 violation if you think certain moral or religious opinions shouldn’t be written into law, you think that law should not be based on tradition, or you consider choice of spouse to be a private matter.
This statement is not a Q2 violation so long as you allow others to define marriage using the same process you do, and you would allow laws regarding similar issues to be passed for the same reason.
There are two aspects of marriage that need to be considered as part of this discussion — marriage as a religious/social institution, and marriage as a legal entity. A couple’s marriage may be purely religious/social, purely legal, or (as in most cases) a combination of the two. In many places (e.g., the United States) the two types of marriage are often treated as if they are the same thing, but the fact that they are different is obvious when you remember that some religions disallow certain types of marriage (such as marriage after divorce) that are not disallowed by law.
Religious/social marriage is a traditional institution, carrying with it a number of customs and moral responsibilities. It can be argued that marriage as a religious/social institution is not something that can be changed by law. For example, many people would agree that law should not be able to force a church to perform same-sex marriages, any more than it should be forced to perform inter-religion marriages. But does a religious institution not recognizing same-sex marriage imply that same-sex marriage should not be recognized by law? By the same token, if a religious institution does not recognize divorce, should divorce not be recognized by law? If you believe that marriage is part of a divine command to "be fruitful and multiply," are you against marriage where children are not a possibility or are not intended?
Legal marriage is a contract between two people that affords them certain rights and responsibilities under the law. It is distinct from religious/social marriage in that it has no associated customs or moral obligations (other than the moral obligation to obey contractual obligations). Should marriage as a legal entity be restricted to marriage between a man and a woman? On what legal grounds? If there are not legal grounds, then what religious, social, traditional, or other grounds are sufficiently significant that they should be made into law? Is changing the legal definition of marriage to allow same-sex marriage any different from changing the legal definition to allow interracial marriage?
From a legal standpoint, should same-sex marriage be illegal if it causes no harm? If it does cause harm, then whom does it harm? If it could be shown that not allowing homosexual couples to marry caused them harm, would this make any difference? Would it matter if the law said that any married couple could adopt a child?
If you think that allowing legal same-sex marriage would imply that other types of marriage (plural marriage, child marriage, marriage to animals, etc.) should also be made legal, what is your basis for this thought? Thinking along the same lines, if the law was changed so that both men and women had to register for selective service (the draft), do you think this implies that children and animals would have to register for the draft? If not, then what is the difference?
If one state allows same-sex marriage, do you think that other states should recognize the marriage as legally valid? Thinking along the same lines, if one state allows a woman to be married to a man at age 15 with parental consent, should that marriage be recognized in a state where the minimum age is 17? If the two questions have different answers, why? And should the U.S. recognize marriages performed in other countries?
Thinking about social marriage and legal marriage as distinct entities, which (if any) of these should be legal?
- A man marries a woman in a church, gets a divorce, and marries another woman with a judge presiding (because his church doesn’t recognize his divorce as legitimate, even though it was legal).
- A man legally marries a woman, then has ceremonies at his church to religiously marry him to two other women as well. All four people consider themselves spouses and live together.
- A man legally marries a woman; then the couple invites two women to move in with them. All four people consider themselves partners and share household duties equally.
You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.