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Same Sex Marriages

2003-08-04

Category: politics
Click Here for a disclaimer.

There has been a great amount of debate over the subject of same sex marriages. Everyone seems to have an opinion, as is their right, but opinions are not always the best reasoning for policy. If we apply reason to most situations we can usually find a solution to the problem.

To begin with, we must be sure that we have the same definition for the words and phrases we are using to argue. In this case, the concept of same sex seems to be fairly clear. Given that humans tend to be one of two genders, for the purpose of discussion here, we can same that same sex means that both individuals are of the same gender. Duh.

The Word "Marriage"

The problem comes with the word ‘marriage’. At first glance it would also appear to be obvious. People have been getting married through recorded history and the practice is fairly universal. But that general definition is not what the debate is about.

We know that many Christian churches oppose gay marriage. Indeed, many oppose homosexuals all together. Still, some few churches allow gay marriage, the Unitarians for example. Some states allow gay marriage as well. Most still do not. But how does this lead to confusion about the definition of marriage?

Simply put, we are discussing the difference between a religious marriage and a state recognized marriage. If a homosexual couple are married in a Unitarian church in a state where such marriages are not allowed, did a marriage take place. Religiously yes, civilly no. If a the same couple were to marry in a state which allows for it would the Catholic church still see the couple as married? Probably not.

That’s the point. There are two versions of marriage for the purpose of this debate. There is the church version, depending on one’s faith, and there is the civil marriage, depending on one’s geopolitical location. If we’re going to have this argument at all, we must be clear on our language.

Religions and their denominations have various reasons for believing what they do. I will not and cannot try to argue them here. The reasons are so varied as to be impossible to address broadly. Further more, there may be some reasons with which I agree and some with which I disagree and it would be far to complex to sort that all out at one sitting. So I will focus mainly on the secular version of marriage.

Secular Marriage

To the state, marriage represents the formation of a household. What does that mean? That’s from the field of Economics. A household is a unit that consumes end goods and provides labor and land, etc…, for the continued functioning of an economy. Other functions of a household include stability of civic order and regulation of behavior for the public good and general peace. This definition of a household is very broad but will suffice for this writing.

So how is this different from the religious marriage? Well, the religious marriage usually centers on the usual practice of males and females getting together for the purpose of producing offspring. Typically the religious group will cite their writings or deity of preference when defining the protocols of marriage. The state doesn’t care about any of that.

Our nation was set up with an eye toward minimizing the effect of any one particular religious belief on the law. The argument about same sex marriages is an argument about law. Will the state recognize the formation of one of these economic household units if the persons involved are of the same gender?

Does the Same Sex Marriage perform the Functions Of a Household?

From a state point of view, the only legitimate question is: Does a same sex household function the same as a traditional household? If the homosexual household does perform the same functions then the state has an interest in allowing it. If the same functions are not performed or if clear and specific harm will definitely result, then the state has an interest in disallowing it. All that remains is to see if a homosexual domestic arrangement performs the functions of traditional homes.

My suggestion is that it does. You would have two people with a vested interest in maintaining a domicile. They would provide labor to the economy and would spend their money. But, you might argue, they could do that living single as well. True, but as a household, they can pool their resources and buy larger things. Furthermore, as a household they will buy more durable goods such as appliances and furniture. From an economic standpoint, this is very good.

The other functions of a household have to do with social order. The critics of homosexual lifestyle often try to portray them as deviants who live chaotic, unordered lives. Well, legalized domestic unions would definitely curb any such wildness. Legalization would encourage such persons to form orderly homes and to live monogamous lives. For the critics who complain about the spread of disease in alternative lifestyle communities, they have to agree that monogamy is a good thing.

Just on these general points, it is clear that the state has an interest in allowing such domestic arrangements.

What About Other Complaints?

As for other criticisms, I can understand how you may feel. As a heterosexual male myself, I’m really creeped out by the idea of homosexuals “being involved”. I deal with it by not thinking about it. It’s none of my business what other people do together unless it directly affects me. I strongly recommend that you take the same stance. If your religion opposes the idea of same sex marriage, then don’t marry them. Most religions say The Divinity will handle wrong-doers so you can go about your business content with that. Even if states allow for these domestic household arrangements, it doesn’t mean that your church is going to be destroyed or that you personally are going to be infected with "gayness".

When it comes down to it, this world is getting more crowded everyday. We really have to try harder to get along, even if you don’t like each other. The only alternative is war and most people are disinclined to that. On the issue of homosexual marriage there is only one logical solution. Acknowledge that it is only about the state recognition of domestic partnerships and not about the sanctification of matrimony.


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