Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Marriage and diversity

Julie Ann Ponzi has a sound opinion on the homosexual marriage question. She argues that "diversity" in nature is a good thing, and that should affect how we view what marriage really is: "The coming together of man and woman in marriage is one of the most beautiful and highest achievements of human nature. In this union between a man and a woman we create something greater than the sum of its parts. A husband and wife are not just roommates. They are a microcosm of what society can be. We can learn to live with diversity. We can overcome even the most incredible differences. We can make something even more beautiful together than we can on our own or with those who are just like us. Marriage is the ultimate test laboratory for tolerance. But it is also a helluva lot of work. And maybe that’s the rub.

It is ironic, is it not, that liberals who clamor for diversity in every other aspect of human relations, now argue for homogeneity in marriage. For, ultimately, that’s what homosexual marriage is. It is a redundancy."
  

Discussions - 14 Comments

Um, how is expanding the kinds of relationships that should be recognized as deserving of the title "marriage". . .against "diversity"? This is a real stretch.

I think her notion is that there should be "diversity" within a marriage, i.e. both genders should be represented. You are suggesting that "diversity" in marriage can only be achieved when marriages are diverse. Ms. Ponzi is saying that the only diversity that needs exist in marriage is within each individual marriage.

So she wants to limit one form of diversity, which you can’t accuse advocates of same-sex marriage of doing (no one is saying that marriage shouldn’t include heterosexual couples).

This lays bare the problem with most of the attacks on same-sex marriage--they amount to defenses of heterosexual marriage. That’s fine; I agree that heterosexual marriage is a Good Thing. However, no one has made a convincing case (at least to me) that same-sex marriage places traditional marriage in jeopardy.

I guess that it’s all in how you view homosexuality in the first place. Proponents of same-sex marriage like to portray homosexuality as being on par with being black or latino. It’s simply a matter of genetics and nothing more, thus limiting homosexuals from marrying is on par with the laws against inter-racial marriages that existed into the 50s and 60s.

However, many of us believe that homosexuality is a perversion. That it is unnatural and immoral. Many would say that those of us who hold those beliefs are bigots. I disagree. If we concede the point that homosexuality (in most cases) is something that individuals are genetically pre-disposed to, I don’t believe that that automatically grants them a free pass in terms of morality. There is strong evidence to suggest that alcoholism is something that people can be pre-disposed to as well. Yet, I sincerely doubt that many people would suggest that we encourage such people to drink to their hearts content, particularly not via our legal system. Such behavior is dangerous to themselves and potentially others as well. Pre-disposition or not, it is something that an individual should strive to overcome, not celebrate.

Such is the case with homosexuality. I don’t believe that we should outlaw homosexual activity. Not at all. I oppose sodomy laws, for instance, on the grounds that that sort of thing is not the business of the government. However, legalizing same-sex marriage begins to knock down the moral distinctions that have existed in this culture for centuries. It takes any sense of shame that exists among homosexuals and tosses it aside. To me, that is unacceptable.

Mr. Moser - actually, I think that the burden of proof is on you to prove that a "union" of two people that violates the natural law is somehow sanctioned by the objective moral law and is somehow equivalent to a "traditional" marriage. I’ve never been explained by any of your postings what you think is the necessary basis for a marriage. Homosexual "marriage" violates "traditional" marriage in the same way that a distorted union of a mother and son or polygamists do. A circle can’t be a square no matter how much we would like to think that we can make it one.

Mr. Williams, I think the burden of proof is on you to prove that homosexuality is a violation of "natural law." Homosexuality exists in the natural world, and has always been present in human society. Moreover, I deny that there is anything natural about marriage of any sort; the concept is a social creation, and is therefore subject to change.

So you are asserting that anything that exists in nature is natural and not a violation of natural law?

As for social creations, I was under the impression that we, as humans, seek to find that which is best. Certainly social creations are subject to change. Government, another social creation, is and always has been quite subject to change. However, I sincerely doubt that you would argue that all governments are morally equal or, in fact, equal in just about any sense.

Such is the case with marriage. It certainly is subject to change, but that does not mean that any change is an acceptable change. Marriage, as it stands now, is as you said, a Good Thing. I think Mr. Williams is right that the burden rests on upon those who wish to change its nature to convince society that a change is warranted.

So you are asserting that anything that exists in nature is natural and not a violation of natural law?

My idea of natural law is bound up with natural rights--life, liberty, property. That which violates natural rights is a violation of natural law. I fail to see whose natural rights are violated by homosexuality. I want to know why one’s sexual preference comes laden with more moral value than, say, one’s choice of ice cream flavors.

As for social creations, I was under the impression that we, as humans, seek to find that which is best. Certainly social creations are subject to change. Government, another social creation, is and always has been quite subject to change. However, I sincerely doubt that you would argue that all governments are morally equal or, in fact, equal in just about any sense.

I would not. Governments that violate natural rights are morally inferior to those that do not.

It certainly is subject to change, but that does not mean that any change is an acceptable change. Marriage, as it stands now, is as you said, a Good Thing.

Which brings me back to my original point--no one has shown to my satisfaction that extending the institution of marriage to homosexuals would deligitimize traditional marriage. As for why the change may be warranted, my response is that society would be marginally happier, in the sense that the happiness of straight couples would not be reduced (can anyone demonstrate for me how this would not be the case?), while that of gay couples would be increased.

Mr. Moser - murder exists in the world, adultery and lust after many women in the world exists, stealing has always been with us, etc., etc. Does that make something morally licit? I think my wife might have a problem with me committing adultery even though I have lots of "natural" desires for other women. And, it’s not just because it might "harm" her but rather because she also knows that it violates the sanctity of our marriage and our promise to God to respect His Law. As a rational being with self-control, I would like to think that I can govern, or at least attempt to govern, my passions and desires when they are out of harmony with what is right or wrong. Of course, in our relativist age when nothing is "considered" by us to be right or wrong, everything is permissible. I guess that why we’re even having this debate. Dostoevsky was right.

murder exists in the world, adultery and lust after many women in the world exists, stealing has always been with us, etc., etc. Does that make something morally licit? I think my wife might have a problem with me committing adultery even though I have lots of "natural" desires for other women.

This is why nature is a poor guide for moral behavior. And why no one ought to be quick to denounce homosexuality on the grounds that it is "unnatural."

And, it’s not just because it might "harm" her but rather because she also knows that it violates the sanctity of our marriage and our promise to God to respect His Law.

From the government’s point of view, it would grant her grounds for divorce, just as no one is bound to abide by any contract once the other party has broken it. As for God’s law, there is no law against taking the Lord’s name in vain, refusing to keep holy the Sabbath, or failing to honor one’s parents--not to mention all of those other Biblical injunctions that Christians ignore, like keeping Kosher. Are you arguing that there should be?

My idea of natural law is bound up with natural rights--life, liberty, property. That which violates natural rights is a violation of natural law. I fail to see whose natural rights are violated by homosexuality. I want to know why one’s sexual preference comes laden with more moral value than, say, one’s choice of ice cream flavors.

So anything that does not violate one of the three natural rights is morally acceptable to you? Society should not promote any morality which is not solely based on natural rights?
One could argue that bestiality does not violate any of those three natural rights. Does that mean that having sexual relations with a donkey is morally neutral in your book?

I, too, have many libertarian tendencies, thus my stance against sodomy laws. But I also believe that preserving the moral fabric of the nation is a reasonable goal of government as well. The traditional family structure served this country well for decades. It has been on the decline for many years now. I believe that homosexual marriage will only hasten that decline and that, indeed, is injurious to heterosexual marriage and society as a whole. One’s choice of ice cream flavors certainly does not affect society. One’s choice of spouses, in many ways, does.

As for God’s law, there is no law against taking the Lord’s name in vain, refusing to keep holy the Sabbath, or failing to honor one’s parents--not to mention all of those other Biblical injunctions that Christians ignore, like keeping Kosher. Are you arguing that there should be?

And no one is suggesting (at least no one on here), that homosexual activity should be illegal. But just allowing an activity to occur is far different than legitimizing that activity via our legal system. I know of no proposals to grant specific rights to people for the sole reason that they like to be mean to their parents or that they work extra hard on Sundays.

As for why the change may be warranted, my response is that society would be marginally happier, in the sense that the happiness of straight couples would not be reduced (can anyone demonstrate for me how this would not be the case?), while that of gay couples would be increased.

So you aren’t even making a civil rights argument here? If happiness is your best case, what about the happiness of the 60% of Americans who poll as being against such marriages? I think you have a hard time making a case for society being generally happier when a clear majority of Americans oppose a change in marriage.

Society should not promote any morality which is not solely based on natural rights? One could argue that bestiality does not violate any of those three natural rights. Does that mean that having sexual relations with a donkey is morally neutral in your book?

As far as the state should be concerned, that is correct. Any of us is free to denounce such activity, and to try to persuade those who engage in it to abandon it, but I see no grounds on which to declare it illegal.

I, too, have many libertarian tendencies, thus my stance against sodomy laws. But I also believe that preserving the moral fabric of the nation is a reasonable goal of government as well.

I assume that your "moral fabric" is predicated on the Judeo-Christian tradition. If government’s role, then, is to uphold God’s law, then how can you justify your opposition to sodomy laws? What’s the moral difference, in your mind, between sodomy and bestiality, which you seem to think ought to be illegal? Or for that matter, between them and taking the Lord’s name in vain? At least that one made the Ten Commandments, which is more than can be said for sodomy and bestiality.

I believe that homosexual marriage will only hasten that decline and that, indeed, is injurious to heterosexual marriage and society as a whole. One’s choice of ice cream flavors certainly does not affect society. One’s choice of spouses, in many ways, does.

I seem to recall that this was the challenge I posed at the very beginning of this debate. I’ve been waiting for someone to demonstrate how homosexual marriage (as opposed to simple homosexuality, which I understand that you believe should remain legal) is harmful to heterosexual marriage and society. So far I’ve heard it repeatedly asserted, but never explained.

If happiness is your best case, what about the happiness of the 60% of Americans who poll as being against such marriages? I think you have a hard time making a case for society being generally happier when a clear majority of Americans oppose a change in marriage.Well, polls suggest that a similar percentage thinks that there ought to be stricter controls on gun ownership, but that doesn’t mean that Congress passes them. The problem with polls is that they don’t indicate the intensity of the preference. I suspect that most of that 60% aren’t all that interested in the debate; most people, I find, are not terribly interested in things that don’t directly affect them personally.

But in a sense this is a moot point, because I never suggested that I support the way gay marriage is being advanced right now--through activist courts and renegade local governments. My point was that I cannot understand the philosophical objection to it.

As far as the state should be concerned, that is correct. Any of us is free to denounce such activity, and to try to persuade those who engage in it to abandon it, but I see no grounds on which to declare it illegal.

I never suggested making it illegal, though I suspect many animal rights supporters would. What I asked you was whether bestiality is morally neutral in your book. Not as far as the state is concerned. As far as you are concerned. Or is the only morality that matters the morality that the state pursues via its legal system? Again, I am not saying that bestiality should be illegal, but I am saying that our legal system should not reward those who engage in it by granting them rights based on that behavior. Gay marriage would do just this for those who engage in homosexuality.

I assume that your "moral fabric" is predicated on the Judeo-Christian tradition. If government’s role, then, is to uphold God’s law, then how can you justify your opposition to sodomy laws? What’s the moral difference, in your mind, between sodomy and bestiality, which you seem to think ought to be illegal? Or for that matter, between them and taking the Lord’s name in vain? At least that one made the Ten Commandments, which is more than can be said for sodomy and bestiality.

Well, the "Judeo-Christian" tradition is one that I think most Americans are fairly comfortable with, so it’s a reasonable guideline to use, though it isn’t all that clearly defined. In any event, in a general sense, yes, the Judeo-Christian tradition is a fine model for America’s moral fabric.

I never said that government’s job was to uphold God’s law, though it would be nice if it didn’t oppose it either. Basically, I think that our government should maintain some moral structure to our society. Not by making everything that violates the J-C tradition illegal, but by making certain assumptions in the way it does business. One of these assumptions is that marriage will be between a man and a woman.

And as I mentioned earlier, I never suggested bestiality should be illegal, just that I believed it was clearly an immoral act. In my mind, morality and legality are two separate, though often overlapping, issues.

I seem to recall that this was the challenge I posed at the very beginning of this debate. I’ve been waiting for someone to demonstrate how homosexual marriage (as opposed to simple homosexuality, which I understand that you believe should remain legal) is harmful to heterosexual marriage and society. So far I’ve heard it repeatedly asserted, but never explained.

I just gave you that explanation, to which you responded that you have yet to see an explanation...

To reiterate, the traditional family structure served this country well for decades. It has been on the decline for many years now. I believe that homosexual marriage will only hasten that decline and that, indeed, is injurious to heterosexual marriage and society as a whole.

I don’t have a study to prove that my fear is true on this point. But, as I asserted previously, it is your side of this debate that wishes to alter one of society’s oldest institutions. The burden rests with you folks to convince the rest of us that a change is warranted. I have yet to be persuaded.

Well, polls suggest that a similar percentage thinks that there ought to be stricter controls on gun ownership, but that doesn’t mean that Congress passes them. The problem with polls is that they don’t indicate the intensity of the preference. I suspect that most of that 60% aren’t all that interested in the debate; most people, I find, are not terribly interested in things that don’t directly affect them personally.

I never suggested that we should become a pure democracy and pass any measure that is supported by 50.1% of the nation. I just said that when 60% of the nation opposes something, making the argument that society generally would be happier if the issue that is opposed by that 60% were made legal is fairly unsupportable. We can ponder how strongly that 60% supports their position, but all we will be doing is speculating. Given that your whole basis for why homosexual marriage should be permitted rests on society being happier, I think you need a bit stronger evidence for it than a supposition on your part that the opposition is fairly disinterested.

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