Sunday, August 11, 2013

Homosexual Marriage


This page features a range of rebuttals to common heterosexist arguments against same-sex marriage.


01) Legal vs Religious Marriage
02) Is Marriage Already Equitable?
03) Is Marriage Redefinable?
04) The Burden of Proof
05) Procreation and Marriage
06) Marriage vs Civil Unions
07) Why Not Vote on Marriage Equality?
08) Marriage Inequality Promotes Prejudice
09) Religious Marriage

01) Legal Versus Religious Marriage:

- Legal and religious marriage are two separate and independent forms of marriage.
- Some countries, such as China, have no religion yet people still get married.
- Even some "Christian nations" have more civil than religious marriage ceremonies.
- Churches are not legally required to marry anybody and never will or should be.
- Homosexual couples should be entitled to the 1,138 legal rights of marriage, such as hospital visitation.

Office for National Statistics (ONS):
"Since 1992 there have been more civil ceremonies in England and Wales than religious ceremonies. In 2009 civil ceremonies accounted for 67 per cent of all ceremonies, an increase from 62 per cent in 1999."

According to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO):
"Research identified a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges."

02) Is Marriage Already Equitable?

Some people argue that homosexuals already have the same rights as heterosexuals because they can get married (heterosexually) too:

A good counter example to this claim is provided in robtish's video. 1:30

- A homosexual can not have a loving heterosexual marriage.
- As such, a law allowing heterosexual marriage does not give a same-sex couple equal opportunity.
- Neither love nor procreation are essential requirements for marriage and vice versa.
- Formal acknowledgement of love is however already recognised as a legitimate and perhaps the primary reason for heterosexuals to marry one another, irrespective of their fertility or plans to procreate.
- The above points necessitate a same-sex legal equivalent of marriage, at the very least.

Poncel et al. 2010, Health Affairs, 29(8), 1539-1548, DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0583:
"The exclusion of gay men and women from civil marriage and the failure of domestic partnership benefits to provide insurance parity contribute to unequal access to health coverage, with the probable result that more health spending is pushed onto these individuals and onto the public."

03) Is Marriage Redefinable?

Conservative groups often worry about "defending the natural family" and are vehemently opposed to attempts to "redefine marriage":

- There is nothing intrinsically evil about redefining a word.
- Ironically, people voting to illegalize same-sex marriage are redefining it.
- Language has always evolved naturally over time, see the KJV Bible or Shakespeare for examples.
- Up until the 1950s, marriage was defined as being between a man and a women of the same race in America in the form of anti-miscegenation legislation.  Redefinition improved it.
- Another example of marriage's historical redefinition is the practice of polygamy, which was common and is sanctioned within the bible, such as in Exodus 21:10 and Deuteronomy 21:15–17.
- Polygamy has legal status in almost 50 nations today, representing the diversity of "marriage" definitions.

United Kingdom Parliament:
"In 1929... Parliament raised the age limit to 16 for both sexes in the Ages of Marriage Act".

Religious and conservative groups similarly express great trepidation and apprehension towards what they describe as "the destruction of traditional marriage":

- Marriage has already been repeatedly redefined and tradition repeatedly violated, often with great benefit.
- Homosexuality is no threat to heterosexual marriage as it does not require the divorce of heterosexual couples or loose them any rights, just as women's suffrage did not reduce the rights of men.
- Marriage has existed for far longer than modern religion and it was only in the 12-13th century that the Roman Catholic Church formally redefined marriage as a sacrament.
- Same-sex marriages appear to have been relatively common in ancient Rome until Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans issued a prohibition of it in the Theodosian Code (9.7.3) in 342 AD (Kuefler, 2007, DOI: 10.1177/0363199007304424).

McSheffrey, Shannon (2006). Marriage, Sex, and Civic Culture in late Medieval London. University of Pennsylvania Press:
"By the end of the thirteenth century the sacrament of marriage had come to be defined... Marriage vows did not have to be exchanged in a church, nor was a priest's presence required. A couple could exchange consent anywhere, any time" (page 21).
"Our best data come from the highest reaches of late medieval English society, the aristocracy, where women first married while young, between thirteen and eighteen, and men often only in their mid twenties or later (although some men, especially orphaned heirs, married very young)" (Page 17).

04) The Burden of Proof

In the US supreme court case that overturned anti-miscegenation laws (Loving v. Virginia, 1967), two of their findings were that:
"The Equal Protection Clause requires the consideration of whether the classifications drawn by any statute constitute an arbitrary and invidious discrimination."
"If they (anti-marriage laws) are ever to be upheld, they must be shown to be necessary to the accomplishment of some permissible state objective".

- As indicated in the above quotation, the burden of proof lies with those that seek to restrict rights and freedoms, not those who are subject to those restrictions of freedom.
- To restrict any liberty without sound justification, especially when it is granted to those that seek to impose that restriction, is by definition, arbitrary and invidiously discriminatory.
- The segregation enshrined by relationship legislation based upon the constituent partners' gender appears no less arbitrary than that based upon their race.

05) Procreation and Marriage

Heterosexists frequently assign "reproductive ability" as the essential criterion for marriage, overcoming the existence of married infertile heterosexuals through self-delusional semantics. They typically claim that infertile couples still represent the union that is responsible for all human life, which is why they are permitted to marry:

- This counts infertile heterosexual couples and fertile heterosexual couples as the same, or rather, identifies the heterosexuality as a validating factor of marriage, because it allows for procreation, and ignores the infertile aspect of it, which discounts the possibility of procreation.
- This is no more justified than ignoring the homosexual aspect of a homosexual couple's relationships, which is what effectively discounts their possibility of reproduction.
- The false premise is therefore that heterosexuality always equates to reproductive ability.
- The idea that "reproductive ability" is essential to marriage is itself unjustified in the first place.

An alternative wording of the above flawed heterosexist argument is provided by Allen Keyes. 2:01

- He disguises his distinction between fertile and infertile heterosexual couples using the semantics "In principal" and "incidentally", which is still not a logically justified distinction.
- He refers to an apple with a worm in it as a metaphor for an infertile heterosexual couple.
- He does so in the context of reproductive ability though and within this context, the worm (the infertility), is no less relevant than the homosexuality of a homosexual couple.
- A more thorough critique of his argument can be found here.

06) Marriage vs Civil Unions

It is unclear why legally equal SS "unions" should not simply be termed "marriages":

- Especially as legalizing same-sex legal "marriage" would only affect homosexuals seeking it, the burden of proof is upon those who oppose it to provide legitimate reasons for doing so.
- Particularly as they claim that legal equivalents, such as civil unions, are "equal but separate", there is no basis at all upon which to argue that the two should remain distinct in terms of the word "marriage".
- Any suggestion that negative consequences could arise from same-sex "marriage", that do not arise from legally equal "civil unions" would only serve to prove the inequality of the two different institutions.
- To understand many of the reasons why same-sex couples want "marriage", simply ask opposite-sex couples what motivates them to get married.

The below video features interviews with two same-sex couples who wish to marry 5:10

The notion that permitting marriage equality presents a threat to heterosexual marriages is not only unevidenced but also contradicted by a nationally representative UK study of more than 15,000 people, for example, which found that intolerance of marital unfaithfulness increased as acceptance of same-sex marriage increased.

Mercer et al. 2013, The Lancet, 382(9907), 1781-1794, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62035-8:
"Acceptance of same-sex partnerships and intolerance of non-exclusivity in marriage increased in men and women in Natsal-3."

07) Why Not Vote on Marriage Equality?

It is sometimes suggested that same-sex marriage simply be put to a vote:

- Despite the 2013 Gallup poll showing that 54% of Americans were in favour of SS marriage and only 43% against, equality is not something that is decided by a vote but is instead an inalienable human right.
- There have been multiple cases throughout history where votes on equality have led to clear injustices.
- In 1879, a state-wide referendum passed by 99.4% of voters in California, banned Chinese people from employment by the state, citing the "burdens and evils arising from (their) presence".
- In 1915 the men of New Jersey voted to deny the women the right to vote.
- The 1964 Californian constitutional amendment, "Proposition 14" was put forward to allow white landlords to refuse to rent to black people and it was passed by a 65% majority vote (Wolfinger & Greenstein, 1968, The American Political Science Review, 62(3), 753-769).
- Interracial marriage would not have become legal in 1967 if voted upon.

California Secretary of State's Office, Article XIX, Section 3 California Constitution 1879:
"No Chinese shall be employed on any State, county, municipal, or other public work, except in punishment for crime."

New Jersey Women's History, 1915 Suffrage Referendum:
"The referendum was held in October 1915, when the proposed amendment was defeated by the male voters."

Gallup, International Pollster, 16/08/2007:
"In 1958, only 4% of Americans said they approved of marriages between whites and blacks... Approval gradually increased over the next few decades, but at least half of Americans disapproved of black-white unions through 1983."

Gallup, International Pollster, 21/05/2014:
"In the latest May 8-11 poll, there is further evidence that support for gay marriage has solidified above the majority level... now at 55%".

08) Marriage Inequality Promotes Prejudice

A state endorsed segregation of relationship institutions not only constitutes unequal treatment of citizens but additionally acts as a psychological legitimization of heterosexism, encouraging and reinforcing it.  Laws can promote or discourage stigmatization and prejudice:

UNAIDS, HIV Related Stigma and Discrimination:
"At a national level, discrimination can reflect stigma that has been officially sanctioned or legitimized through existing laws and policies, and enacted in practices and procedures."

Ritchie et al. 2010, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, (12)6, 622-629:
"Relatively little consideration has been given to the potentially negative, albeit unintended, consequences of smoke-free policies within different social and cultural contexts, in particular the increased stigmatization of smokers".

Amnesty International, Choice and Prejudice, Discrimination against Muslims in Europe:
"The achievement of women’s equality and the fight against all forms of gender-based discrimination would be better served by improving implementation of... existing legislation instead of supporting general bans on specific forms of dress, which is likely to further stigmatize women from ethnic and religious minorities".

The Wiener Library, The World's Oldest Holocaust Memorial Institution:
"From 13 March 1942, flats that had Jews living in them also had to be marked by a Star of David.  This publicly visible stigmatisation and humiliation denoted the final step in the process of social exclusion of the Jews which began in 1933".

09) Religious Marriage

Redefining religious marriage is actually, ironically much less of an issue than legal "marriage":

- Religious freedom is part of the International Bill of Human Rights.
- Currently established religion's do not have a monopoly on god-concepts or the word "marriage".
- If people are entitled to their own religious beliefs then a gay Christian or member of any other religion is entitled to believe that their God(s) will bless their same-sex marriage.
- Either the gay Christian can find a church that will marry them or simply make their own church.
- Religious marriage appears to be a non-issue and is only usually regarded as one due to the mistaken belief that it can only take the form of a Christian marriage, within a denomination that opposes same-sex marriage.

Gallup, International Pollster, "USA Today" Poll, 05/12/2012:
"Americans who oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, 46% of the adult population, are most likely to explain their position on the basis of religious beliefs".

Frequently this stems from the misconception that they have a monopoly on marriage because it was created by their religion. Even in the case of genesis, the Jewish origin of marriage, Bible scholars widely agree that the book of genesis was constructed between 330-540 BC (1), which is massively pre-dated by the Code of Ur-Nammu, the oldest law code that regulates marriage, constructed c.2100 BC (2). As demonstrated by the numerous alterations to the definition of marriage throughout history, its application is not constrained by its origin anyway.

(1) J. Blenkinsopp & J. Barton, 1998, The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation, Cambridge University Press, page 184.
(2) J. Finkelstein, 1966, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 86(4), 355-372.

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