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A bad argument against bad arguments against same-sex marriage

I received an email touting this piece that works hard to demolish straw men. Jon Chait simply assumes that choice is always good, but gives no consideration to what might happen if we, in effect, apotheosize choice, thereby, among other things, utterly severing the connection between adult self-fulfillment and childrearing. If it’s all about choice, why can’t I choose a plurality of mates, without any regard for the welfare of the children who may happen to be associated with the arrangement.

Yes, marriage isn’t just about children and childrearing, but our understanding of it--however badly articulated by some proponents--naturally begins there. Chait’s, er, argument is so focused on the fulfillment of individuals who seem selfish or self-centered by definition (they’re choosers, not bearers of responsibility) that he can’t see the force of that point of departure. He diminishes our responsibility for the sake of our freedom.

To be sure, the proponents of same-sex marriage aren’t alone in making this argument and they’re just following in the footsteps of other "possessive individualists." The real argument isn’t about same-sex marriage, it’s about what it means to be a responsible member of a community, about whether our burdens must be accepted or are only legitimate if they’re freely chosen.

Discussions - 8 Comments

Socially-sanctioned marriage is also about regulating the relationships between men and women. Anything that damages our ability to stabilize the legal and social balance of responsibilities between the genders is going to be counterproductive and, perhaps, deeply corrosive to our culture. Relegating marriage to a form of strictly personal fulfillment has been a terrible error, and one we are continually paying for in broken families, poor psychological development, and destroyed wealth (just to mention a few). Disposable marriage has been a complete disaster for our society, and gay marriage only accelerates the damage.

I read with humor the repeated conservative argument if gay marriage is allow, why not extend the favor to those wanting to marry multiple partners or animals, or whatever.

There are currently many millions of gay people loudly clamoring to get married. I have not seen a single person seeking the right to marry an animal. Where are the triads and polygamists asking for their marriage rights?

Only gay people have sufficient numbers and political organization to make gay marriage a serious issue. Let's leave the silly beastiality and polygamy issues out of the discussion. They only make the reader seriously question the intelligence of the author.

Chait also conveniently ignores the likelihood of a gender black market that could be another tactic the gays will use to destroy the sanctity of marriage.

@ Robert:

So are you implying that gays have always had the required political organization and numbers to protest for marriage rights? Decades ago, this wasn't imaginable. And it is more than simply polygamy; it is incest, etc. Have you ever heard the phrase, "expect the unexpected?"

And, so that you won't "seriously question" my intelligence, let us assume that you are correct, and that there is no wave of polygamy, or whatever it is today. In twenty years as the political clime changes far beyond our feeble powers of perception and some group of polygamists does "loudly clamor" for their marriage rights, on what grounds will marriage homo or hetero marriage be defended? Are those who advocate same-sex marriage to say that they are morally superior to polygamists? Then what is the deal with the argument that it is "all relative" today?

Howdy Robert
We already have groups like Yearning for Zion and Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints who practice polygamy just below the radar. They are likely to ask -- nay, demand -- the right to practice marriage as they see fit. People who associate sexually with animals probably aren't lining up for marriage in any case, but an animal can't agree to a contract.
I believe in my libertarian heart that adult relationships are the business of the adults in question. The slope is slippery and gay marriage does open a gate to polygamy. That's fine with me. Let's just recognize that it's true.

A gay person makes two choices- to be gay, and to live with a gay partner. If I love my Father, or Brother, or friend, and chose to live with him, then I have the right to Marry him and live on his social security?
The gay argument always presents the pair as a "loving" pair, and therefore like a loving married couple, deserves Marriage.
They never claim that they have a sexual attraction, and therefore are entitled to marriage. The word prostitute and Gay or Homosexual is defined by their special sexual choices. A married couple is defined by their loving relationship, and sex and children are a result.

These arguments seem to go on and on ad nauseam...perhaps I am naive but, as someone once said - it is -- what it is!! I don't think anyone ever made a conscious decision: "gee-- I think I'll be homosexual!" One either is or isn't homosexual.

Of those who are, the most problematic issue with which they deal is: whether or not they will live that life or not.
Either way - these need our prayers and support as best we can.

“It has yet to be scientifically proven that homosexuality is either a choice or not a choice. Basing an argument on this belief makes the argument weak. Also, by stating that homosexual couples are only looking for tax breaks in lobbying for same-sex marriage rights, you are narrow-mindedly exaggerating this reason as the only reason gays want marriage rights.

Stating that homosexual relationships are based solely on sexual attraction is improvable, just as is saying that all heterosexual relationships are based on love alone. Both of these arguments fail to prove whether same-sex marriage is permissible or not permissible.”

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