Gay Marriage: A Review of the Contemporary Debate
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Gay marriage, like it or not, has become the foremost agenda item in civil rights today. Not to be outdone, race relations have flared up in Ferguson and Baltimore, and sexism has never gone away either. But the Supreme Court is currently evaluating the constitutionality of Gay Marriage. The last three years have brought on a drastic upheaval in public opinion about homosexuality broadly and gay marriage specifically. 37 States have now legalized gay marriage. The American public has grown quite friendly to the idea, a significant majority now. It looks like the verdict on gay marriage is almost in, and the “debate” is basically over.

But wait, there’s another side of the story. Whatever the current trend may be, we should not casually foist a grand-scale social experiment on society without weighing it carefully first. The question at issue here is should gay marriage be legalized federally for all U.S. states? First let’s consider the pros before attending to the cons.

1. People have a (civil and/or natural) right, broadly, to choose to romantically love whomever they want–including homosexuality.
2. People have a (civil and/or natural) right, broadly, to conduct their private affairs, including homosexual relations, without undue Government intrusion.
3. People have a (civil and/or natural) right, broadly, to marry and choose whom they want to marry.
4. Homosexuality is relatively harmless, or at least, not significantly more harmful than heterosexual relations.
5. Bans and restrictions on homosexuality are practically unenforceable.
6. Bans and restrictions on homosexuality are religious in nature and so, cannot be implemented federally without problematically merging church and state.
7. Statistics may suggest a higher rate of some STD’s among gay people but those can be improved/offset by allowing gay marriage (reducing the degree of promiscuity).
8. Traditional marriage is pretty flawed; maybe society should let gay marriages give it a shot and see if they can do better.
9. Love is blind. This point is a general one, difficult to summarize, but there seems to be an “openness” about love to where people can and do love in surprising ways and it’s difficult if not impossible to try to “rein it in.” Love acts and operates in such a tumultuous and stormy way that we cannot hope to contain such it’s rambunctious spirit in a single boxy definition like “traditional” marriage.
10. One should not force religion on others through government mandates.

1. Marriage already has a universally and historically established definition–across most every religion, every land, every culture, and many non-religions. This definition, termed here as “traditional marriage” or the “traditional definition of marriage” is recognized in  Black’s Law Dictionary, 2d. ed. (1995) which says,  “. . . the civil status of one man and one woman united in law for life, for the discharge to each other and the community of the duties legally incumbent on those whose association is founded on the distinction of sex” (see also, Farlax, Oxford, and Webster’s Dictionaries). It’s not been sufficiently established that this definition is merely a conventional, arbitrary, or disposable definition. But when it comes to societal institutions and foundational matters like this, the burden of proof is on the “revolutionary” to show that the traditional definition is now outmoded.
2. Many alternative “definitions” of marriage have already been tried–concubinage, polygamy, communal marriage, etc.–and have broadly failed to achieve the success of traditional marriage.
3. The definition of marriage is not necessarily a conventional thing, subject to revision and redefinition. It’s at least possible that the definition of marriage is found (not fabricated) in the course of humankind’s search in our own nature, our own gender, our own social needs, etc.
4. This definition does NOT discriminate against gay people. Instead gay people “discriminate” against it opting not to marry the opposite sex–even though they have full and equal protection under the law to marry whomever they please. Remember, though, that to “marry” the same sex is not marriage (see #1).
5. Gender differences are real, largely innate, very natural, and quite powerful; it’s a dangerous social experiment to tweak and tamper with nature’s ways (in man and woman) as if nature permits indiscriminate change like that.
6. When it comes to such a societal foundation as traditional marriage–i.e., traditional marriage has always been the majority norm in every culture across history–there is too much at stake to allow for a wide range of alteration, especially if the incidence of homosexuality hinges heavily on socio-economic success and relational stability.  For that reason. . .
7. Gay marriage has the potential to normalize homosexuality like never before thus compromising the very trunk and root system by which the “branch” of Same Sex Attraction (SSA) draws its life. If traditional marriage is pressed too far and “breaks” then there society would come undone at the seams. Gay marriage, were it practiced universally would destroy a civilization literally since there would be no procreation. Hence, homosexuality survives only as a luxury of societies that are built up from procreative norms, and traditional marriage specifically.
8. Gay “marriage” is a privilege–a disputed one at that–and not necessarily a right. 12 Year old’s don’t have a “Right” to marry. Nor do siblings, or parent-child relations, or threesomes, or bigamists, etc.
9. Children deserve a mother and a father.
10. You get more of what you promote, but even a moderately increase in gay marriages would be enough to harm traditional marriage norms–for example, weakening the perceived value of marriage, weakening confidence and understanding about gender distinctions (and why they matter), denting the birth rate, impacting health insurance rates (i.e., gay people tend to have shorter life spans, obesity related ailments, and higher venereal disease rates).
11. Marriages/Families in America are struggling enough already, they don’t need more pressure considering how important it is to have strong healthy married families.
12. There is no historical precedent of long-lasting successful culture which normalized gay marriage.
13. Homosexual intercourse incurs a higher incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.
14. Slippery Slope: the justifications for SSM are so open they permit other groupings, which SSM advocates probably don’t want in, such as bigamists, polygamists, and incestuous couples.
15. Logically speaking, more same sex marriages (SSM)–> more children raised in SSM –> more children raised to favor, support, and even practice SSM –> increased numbers of homosexuals in subsequent generations.
16. Regarding Pro10 above, the definition of Traditional Marriage is neither unique to a particular religion, nor innately religious. There are at least some gay people, gay rights advocates, and secularists who admit that marriage should be treated in its traditional sense. Traditional marriage is so widely held, so historically rooted, and so culturally fundamental, it should be considered part of our human nature.
17. It may further be asserted that the USA has a Christian heritage such that it’s a “Christian country,” though respecting broadly “freedom of religion” (aka: “separation of church and state”). Traditional marriage can abide as the ethical and legal norm for society so long it is not asserted in an unjust, malicious, or otherwise harmful manner (see above). It seems odd/inconsistent to enjoy the benefits of a (broadly) Christian culture without accepting at least some of it’s most special institutions as part of the cultural fare of America.

That’s a good bit of the debate. There’s a lot more that could be said, specifically with regard to the views of different religions. And the deliberation between different political theories and political parties on this issue. But, overall, we should not take this marriage debate lightly nor as a foregone conclusion. There is a lot left to discuss and discover in this treacherous territory of societal experimentation.

For more on this subject, namely, my own position, see here: The Case Against Gay Marriage.

2 thoughts on “Gay Marriage: A Review of the Contemporary Debate

  1. If religion does not want to sanction marriage then that is it’s right just as it can discriminate against performing services for members of other religions . However, when the religion seeks to assert it’s claims in the political arena then it loses it’s authority over its own religion. It now seeks political power to determine the arrangements of others by it’s standard. Arranged marriages (fairly common to all religions), denigration of the bride (proofs of virginity, dowry, social standing, etc) are all common to religious traditions. Marriage may be of ultimate concern here but what about the failure of marriage: divorce. I am pretty sure that the “traditional” leaves women in a sad situations and it was only by liberal secular intervention that religions were forced to change their “attitude”. Jesus himself spoke little about marriage but was fairly harsh on the divorce. If for no other reason it was a virtual death sentence for a woman to be “sloppy seconds/used” in his culture. Now ..not so much so the church has already accepted dramatic “social experimentation” with marriage. Polygamy not only did not fail it is still widely practiced where children are viewed (as in the Bible) as wealth if not survival and propagation of the race . Which is a lot less important with Billions (and growing) on the planet. Marriage has always been about ownership, survival, wealth, propagation and sometimes even romantic love. Before science gave us testable proof of the sperm donor and contraceptives marriage was (still is in many places) an intense burden on the female. That alone has been a dramatic “social experimentation”. Most of your points of “cons” and some “pros” about marriage equality are simply based on the desire of one group of folks to determine the lives of others. Much the same as interracial or even inter-faith marriages (more social experimentation) . Every time religion attempts to keep social actions held to a standard based on it’s religion based social control it comes out the loser. Or maybe you like my grandfather (Pentecostal minister) still believes that interracial marriage violated God’s law about mixing with the accursed descendants of Ham? Except now it is because two adult American citizens of the same gender now wish to have social benefits that you take for granted. SCOTUS of course has since made it a fait accompli! Yet now the religious wish to continue the exercise in political power (as they did less successfully after the abolition of denial of interracial marriage) in refusing to accept other citizens rights based on their faith. Why single out same sex couples. Why should a Muslim want to serve a Hindu, A Catholic serve a Protestant, A Protestant serve a Mormons.

    1. Did you read the article? It doesn’t sound like you are really responding to the article but rather to the general theme of “a religious apologetic against Gay Marriage.” Is there a particular point in my post that you would cite and explain why you take issue with that? That would help me know where my reasoning might be flawed.

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