Insightful Essay on Same-Sex Marriage

Here is an insightful essay on the debate over the legality of same-sex marriage: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/07/5884/. The author, Robert P. George, explains that the “religious liberty” argument against same-sex marriage is ultimately a poor one since it does not attempt to refute the assumption made by same-sex marriage supporters that all sexual relationships between adults — whether heterosexual or homosexual — are equivalent. Consequently, no “grand bargain” can be reached in which those with religious objections to same-sex marriage can decline to recognize such “marriages” on the grounds of religious liberty — religious objectors are simply branded as “bigots” or “homophobes” and suffer the stigma that is rightly applied to racists.

More importantly, the author makes a good case that the conjugal view of marriage is far more consistent with our existing legal description and requirements for marriage:

Since most liberals and even some conservatives, it seems, apparently have no understanding at all of the conjugal conception of marriage as a one-flesh union—not even enough of a grasp to consciously consider and reject it—they uncritically conceive marriage as sexual-romantic domestic partnership, as if it just couldn’t possibly be anything else. This is despite the fact that the conjugal conception has historically been embodied in our marriage laws, and explains their content (not just the requirement of spousal sexual complementarity, but also rules concerning consummation and annulability, norms of monogamy and sexual exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence of commitment) in ways that the sexual-romantic domestic partnership conception simply cannot. Still, having adopted the sexual-romantic domestic partnership idea, and seeing no alternative possible conception of marriage, they assume—and it is just that, an assumption, and a gratuitous one—that no actual reason exists for regarding sexual reproductive complementarity as integral to marriage. After all, two men or two women can have a romantic interest in each other, live together in a sexual partnership, care for each other, and so forth. So why can’t they be married? Those who think otherwise, having no rational basis, discriminate invidiously. By the same token, if two men or two women can be married, why can’t three or more people, irrespective of sex, in polyamorous “triads,” “quadrads,” etc.? Since no reason supports the idea of marriage as a male-female union or a partnership of two persons and not more, the motive of those insisting on these other “traditional” norms must also be a dark and irrational one.

I think it is much more effective and appropriate to argue in favor of conjugal marriage than to argue against same-sex marriage on the grounds of religious beliefs.

H/T to Wintery Knight.

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