Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Tucker on Marriage

David Tucker ponders the effects of the ruling that has allowed Massachusetts to start issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples and asks:

"Is this revolution as good as the last one that Massachusetts led? Are its principles as sound?"
Read the article and see what he concludes.  

Discussions - 13 Comments

In reading the article to a friend the question was raised of the legitimacy of birth control use for one who would hold such a position. The main argument of the article hinged on the supposition that the pleasure of sex should not be divorced from the making of babies. Would it be inadvisable by this logic then for heterosexual couples to use birth control?

This cuts to the heart of the argument; the connection between the pleasure of sex and the function of procreation was severed a long time ago, and not by gays. There’s also the fact that heterosexuals can and do engage in the same sorts of practices that gays and lesbians do, either because they enjoy it or because they specifically want to avoid having children.

The whole history of language is one of flux. The meanings of words change, as do the purposes of institutions. As Benjamin Constant wrote in the middle of the 19th century, even such a fundamental term as "liberty" meant something very different to the ancients than it does in the modern age. Why should marriage hold some special status in this regard?

Mr. Tucker’s position seems to rely on the unsupported implication/assumption that marriage for a gay couple is about sex, not love. The validity of the assertion that same-sex marriage is so detrimental that it should be banned on the basis that it sends a message that "the pleasure of sex is an end in itself" can only be sustained if marriage of heterosexual couples incapable of having children is banned. In fact, a message of sexual pleasure as "an end in itself" would actually be diminished, and sex being within the institution of marriage reinforced, by allowing same-sex marriage. Additionally, Mr. Tucker asserts that marriage of infertile heterosexual couples is of value as "a vote in favor of marriage" should be equally applicable to same-sex couples wishing to be married. It can’t be positive in one case and negative in the other, Mr. Tucker.
Others have touched on the issue of birth control within marriage and that sexual practices of heterosexual couples not being solely for procreation. Mr. Tucker’s commentary has some obvious flaws in logic, including false assumptions, double standards and a fundamental omission of the "love factor" in the desire for marriage for both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

Rick Derrig

The meanings of words change, as do the purposes of institutions. Why should marriage hold some special status in this regard?

Yeah... I can’t wait til babys hop out of the womb and start walkin’ right away, too. And like when are we humans gonna get rid of that hideous "institution" called "food," and of having to eat all the time, too?

To Derrig:
You are wrong because you are arguing this entire issue from a simply material viewpoint, as if sex was simply animal copulation, or family were a culturally convenient contract, an arbitrary arrangement of atoms subject only to the will of people or worse The People.

Admittedly it is easy to dismiss arguments for sterile couples when it is couched in weak political terms like "a vote for marriage". It is not a vote, it is a compliance with nature. It is a recognition of the rightness and naturalness and goodness of man and woman together in spite of the unfortunate reality of sterility. (Leaving off, for now, the possibility of a miracle or inexplicable change in fertility status) The child bearing ability as requirement for marriage is absurd. The essence of your argument goes like this:

"You say that sex cannot be for pleasure alone AND you say marriage is for kids, but now you’re saying it can be for pleasure if you allow infertile couples. You can’t have it both ways..."
--Who says it can’t be both? You? As if an action or thing can’t be good in two ways? Illogical. Throw it out.

"...so no infertile couples should be aloud to marry because it is inconsistent."

Inconsistent with what? Your erroneous assumption that homosexual relationships are just as healthy, happy, and stabilizing as heterosexual marriages? And while on the topic of consistency, does it not seem a little backward to come down on a 3000 year old institution for a lack of consistency? Doesn’t it seem at least gauche to use the standard of inconsistency at all when one considers the contorted verbal gymnastics of the "gay" community, of "gay" "marriage", of "homosexuality", and of the entire premise that this lifestyle is in anyway good for those who embrace it and die so terribly young?

Sorry to unload the full clip, but I am growing impatient on this point. The number of logical fallacies in this argument are so numerous it becomes tiresome to point them all out. Part of me thinks that is the game plan of those in support of "gay marriage" or (to be consistent) sodomy incorrectly labeled by the state as a relationship between a man and a woman, hopefully engendering children.

Could anybody suggest another article which makes an argument against homosexual marriage without the flaws present in this one? I would agree with Tucker’s statement that in order to oppose it today one would need an argument which stands on it’s own and not on the basis of tradition or revelation, and would be interested to read another attempt at justifying the position in such manner.

See my blog entitled "Steele Contra Sullivan on Same-Sex Marriage," which calls attention to Shelby Steele’s New Republic article on the subject.

So the crux of the argument is that we can’t allow state authorities to recognize gay and lesbian marriages because other folks -- and I suppose kids in particular -- might get the wrong idea about the purposes of sex. This is kind of a marriage-related equivalent of the old Hicklin test in obscenity law. If kids and the mentally incompetent could be corrupted by any aspect of the policy, then it can be prohibited.

Well, at least it’s an argument, and a useful one at that. It allows me to avoid having to justify the prohibition to those who are actually engaging in the behavior in question. After all, it’s not their views that count, only the views of vulnerable members of society who might get the wrong ideas in their heads about things that I don’t like. And who speaks for those vulnerable members of society. Why, me, of course.

The problem with this article is that it starts out so rationally, then quickly falters by not carrying it through for the whole argument. A synopsis of his argument makes this clear:

-The morality of homosexual marriage may not be judged on religious grounds or in respect to tradition.

-Sex has two worthy functions, procreation and emotional bonding.

-Since only heterosexuals have sex for these two reasons, only heterosexual marriage is valid.

First off, the idea that straight sex is for emotional bonding and gay sex is for pleasure is simply ridiculous. It’s a mixture of both for both gays and straights. Claiming otherwise is just ridiculous. So, this leaves only the procreation aspect of the argument. Unless the author likewise condemns all birth control methods, as someone else rightly pointed out, his argument fails at this point. If he does, then at least it’s an internally consistent argument, albeit a poor one.

I am a baby boomer. I grew up during a time when divorce was something only Hollywood folks could afford. I came of age just at the time when middle America began to afford the same stuff only Hollywood folks could once afford. Yet, strange as it might sound, I came of age at a time when my elders decided there wre too many mouths to feed. The new credos was heard loud and clear when I was coming of age. Paul Ehrlich put the credo into words:

"The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now."

So, when I was coming of age, the elders who had produced the baby boom, yet now could afford divorce for everybody, decided we baby boomers could abort our kids so there might be less mouths to feed. So we did. And we, too, divorced ourselves from any meaningful memory of what a family was or meant.

Yet I would caution anybody who might think we baby boomers are gonna just continue this trend into cultural destruction. The so-called "Greatest Generation" was not so great when we baby boomers were coming of age. Nuthin’ agin ’em, mind ya, but forced school busing of a black or white kid clear across town, just to make that generation feel "great," was not my idae of the American dream come true. Niether, on second thought, was the destruction of the American family.

In summary, what goes around comes around. Putting this rotten crap back in the bottle where it belongs is something we baby boomers can understand. After all, we grew up at a time when only Hollywood folks could afford to mess with family life.

Why would the argument fall apart with the birth control argument? Heterosexual sex within a marriage that is respective of the natural law, i.e., the purposes of sex - unity and procreation - would certainly mean that birth control violates the natural law and is thus immoral. It is human- and self-centered and does not respect the purposes or responsibility of making love, which just might include having babies. Only in our post-modern, utilitarian, individualistic society has birth control become legal, by judicial fiat and making up rights not in the Constitution, I might add. So, I will agree with one of the first comments that many heterosexuals are just as guilty as homosexuals of violating the purposes of sex which God has given us as a beautiful gift in a marriage to create a new family.

Say, perhaps the GOP can make that its 2004 campaign slogan--"first gay marriage, then birth control." Wouldn’t John Kerry love that!

I wasn’t talking about politics. I was talking about objective morality. I DO think that a political party should support what you mention and an end to abortion on top of that. But, increasingly our society over the last forty years, usually by judicial fiat, has seen it right to overturn what is right for individual "liberation" from conventional morals as it becomes more "enlightened." Politicians have usually decided to ignore the pursuit of the just, the noble, the good, the beautiful - and the right - for what is feasible or self-interest. I don’t blame them because politics is also about virtues like prudence. That is why my kingdom is not of this earth - humans are flawed. The problem is that we’ve not only forgotten that after millenia, but we’ve also decided to endorse that corruption in public policy and law.

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