Tom Gilson

Wrong Questions About Same-Sex “Marriage”

We’re continually asking and answering the wrong questions about same-sex “marriage.” Defenders ask, “what’s wrong with it?” Opponents answer by pointing out its various moral and social ill effects. Defenders deny that those effects happen or that they make any difference.Then they ask, “Since you can’t show it’s doing any harm, why not allow it?”

Why not instead ask, “what good does it do?” More than that, “What good does it do for anyone other than the participants?” (I do not thereby concede that it is good for the participants, but for the sake of argument I would propose setting that aside for at least a moment.)

“What good does it do for anyone other than the participants?” I ask again. And I would be willing to bet that at least some readers’ reflex answer is, “Why do you ask? Does that make any difference? Marriage is for the participants, after all.”

And here I have found myself tempted to follow the usual path of defending traditional marriage over against same-sex “marriage.” I actually wrote an entire paragraph before I realized I was answering the wrong question, even while I was warning us all against it.

The problem, friends, is not gay “marriage.” The problem is the attitude, “I’m going to do what I want unless you can prove to me it’s hurting someone else”—with the standard for such proof set impossibly high, by the way.

An approach like this is rights-oriented instead of responsibility-oriented; it is about wanting what one wants when one wants it, and getting upset if anyone else gets in the way; ultimately it is self-centered and self-excusing. One grants oneself full permission to take offense if anyone else takes offense. Everyone else’s offense is regarded as wrong and bigoted, while one’s own is fully condoned and sanctioned as the right kind of offense to take.

But it’s not just about gay rights. It’s about an attitude toward rights in general, one that regards individual liberty as the highest good. It could be (and has been, obviously) equally expressed in the form of corporate greed, racial bigotry, peddling drugs and smut, or any of the common forms of individual crime.

It can even be expressed within a traditional man-woman marriage relationship. In my own marriage I’ve often been guilty of focusing on my own needs and my own “rights.” The difference is that marriage was not originally designed nor intended just for the sake of expressing individual liberties. Its purpose is broader, richer, and more demanding than that by far.

Therein lies the real danger of gay-rights activism. It is its incessant focus on individual rights, and its utter lack of attention on what builds stronger societies and better people in this generation and the ones to come. “Better people? What’s that? Isn’t it awfully bigoted to consider one person better than another?” Maybe so, in many cases. How about this, though: what would build me to be better than I otherwise would be?

The question is not what’s wrong with gay “marriage.” The better question is one that I fear is bound to provoke some upset and anger. It must be asked nevertheless. The better question is, “why do you continually focus on such a self-oriented question?”

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31 thoughts on “Wrong Questions About Same-Sex “Marriage”

  1. I think the perfect question might be “What’s wrong with a square circle?” Answer: “Nothing, except that it does not exist.” Same for “homosexual marriage”.

  2. With this logic blacks and women were “self oriented” as well!

    Perhaps it has something to do with that piece of paper called the Declaration of Independence.

    “That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

    Perhaps it is also related to the fact that the United States Supreme Court, in Loving vs Virginia said:
    “Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man”

    Have a wonderful day.

  3. ““I’m going to do what I want unless you can prove to me it’s hurting someone else””

    This is not the actual question that concerns people who are arguing for the right to marry someone of the same gender. The question they are asking is why they cannot love the partner they choose and have that recognized as valid by the state with the privileges that apply thereto? Why is that kind of relationship not recognized by the state as a heterosexual relationship is recognized? That is the primary question.

    To that degree, the best arguments in favor of state recognition of same gender marriage do indeed make claims that “what builds stronger societies and better people in this generation and the ones to come” is the state recognition of same gender marriage.

    What I would favor is a better distinction between state recognized unions and thus limiting marriage to religious recognition. This allows religions the freedom to deny covenanting of any union they do not discern as fit and it ensures that any such partnering regardless of gender can be given due privilege by the state. The issue here is thus about equal representation and legitimacy – not about individual rights since marriage is not even a right.

    I think you are right that some arguments focus on rights, but those are not very good arguments in my judgment.

  4. If you think marriage is good for society, gay marriage is good for it for the same reasons. “Gay marriage vs. straight marriage” is a false dichotomy — gay people aren’t going to magically become straight if gay marriage remains illegal. They just won’t be able to get married. I fail to see how anyone who thinks marriage is a good idea would prefer gay people including gay parents to remain single.

  5. Jim,

    You are presenting an absurd tautology that does nothing to address the question. “Is” does not necessitate an “ought”. Its non-existence is precisely the problem being addressed.

  6. Drew,

    The question they are asking is why they cannot love the partner they choose and have that recognized as valid by the state with the privileges that apply thereto? Why is that kind of relationship not recognized by the state as a heterosexual relationship is recognized? That is the primary question.

    I answered this question in the other thread but will do it again here.

    a) they CAN love the partner they choose and have it recognized as valid by the state
    b) the privileges are the EXACT same as a marriage
    c) it’s called a domestic partnership

  7. Don’t you recognize benefits to society from straight marriages? Why would there be any less benefit from gay ones?

    People don’t talk about the benefits of gay marriage so much because it’s so obvious what the benefits are. They’re EXACTLY the same benefits bestowed on society as straight marriage’s.

    That’s why the focus turns to, well, why shouldn’t gays be allowed to marry? And ultimately, as far as I can tell, it comes down to a fundamentally religious objection, which is not a valid legal justification for discrimination.

  8. JA,

    And ultimately, as far as I can tell, it comes down to a fundamentally religious objection, which is not a valid legal justification for discrimination.

    I’m purposely making a non-religious argument because it’s clear that religious arguments aren’t needed in this case.

    That’s why the focus turns to, well, why shouldn’t gays be allowed to marry?

    Your question should be worded, why shouldn’t a gay couple be legally referred to as married? The opposing question applies equally, why should they? The answer to both questions is there’s no reason they *should* since heterosexual couples are not the same as homosexual couples (hence the different words). That doesn’t mean they aren’t legally equal – they are equal. It means you aren’t *required* to refer to two different things by the same name.

  9. If conservatives all got on board with domestic partnership, I’d start believing that line of argument was genuine. However, most conservatives oppose both gay marriage AND equivalent domestic partnerships.

    The opposing question applies equally, why should they?

    Because to call it something else diminishes those relationships and those families.

    The answer to both questions is there’s no reason they *should* since heterosexual couples are not the same as homosexual couples.

    It is *exactly* the same thing. It’s just that the two parties happen to be of the same sex vs. the opposite sex. The people are different, the institution is the same.

    The only thing calling it something else accomplishes is a stigmatization of those families.

  10. JA

    However, most conservatives oppose both gay marriage AND equivalent domestic partnerships.

    Doesn’t matter. Nothing illegal about disagreeing with a law for moral reasons while obeying it in practice.

    Because to call it something else diminishes those relationships and those families.

    The social perception of a term is different than the legal perception. If legally everything is equal then it makes no difference what term you use so long as the term is not an obvious and undeserved degradation of character. You shouldn’t legally refer to a people group as ‘retards’ for obvious reasons, but ‘handicapped’ seems to be acceptable.

    Nothing degrading about being called a domestic partnership as opposed to a marriage. Same sex couples can legally change the term to a more flowery (pun intended) term if they like, but they have no legal right to be called married.

    BTW, I also have no *legal* right to be called married. It’s what I prefer to be called and it’s why we are voting on it.

  11. Nothing degrading about being called a domestic partnership as opposed to a marriage.

    So what exactly is the point of using two words for one institution? I’m not trying to argue that it’s ILLEGAL to use a different term for gay marriage (although it does seem to be somewhat analogous to the old “separate but equal” idea.) I’m arguing that it’s damaging and unnecessary.

    Maybe we should have a separate word for all contracts involving gay people. A “contract” is an agreement between straight parties. A “legal pact” is an agreement between gay parties. Does that make any sense to you? What’s the difference between this and marriage?

    Should interracial marriages have a third distinct term? “Domestic pacts?” Should Christians have “Sacraments” instead of “marriages?” Should Jews get “Kedushin?”

  12. JA

    Should interracial marriages have a third distinct term? “Domestic pacts?” Should Christians have “Sacraments” instead of “marriages?” Should Jews get “Kedushin?”

    From a legal standpoint there is no *should* in any of this, including the right to be associate with the term married. I said that at the end of my last comment. Society can get by with the generic word ‘union’ for everything from couples to families to polygamists if it wants.

    The bottom line is it’s up to the voters to decide what they want. The other bottom line is the charge of inequality and rights violation that some people are making is unwarranted. I have moral and religous reasons for rejecting same sex relationships. I think they should not be endorsed or encouraged. However they should also not be denied their individual rights, and it’s not an individual right to be recognized by the government – just ask the alligator wrestlers out there. 😉

  13. @SteveK

    However they should also not be denied their individual rights, and it’s not an individual right to be recognized by the government – just ask the alligator wrestlers out there.

    I agree that it is not an intrinsic right. The fact is that no marriage is an intrinsic right. Marriage is a union that has privilege from the state divested to it.

    But where you are inconsistent or at least not clear is that one kind of marriage should continue to be recognized by the government, but that any other form of marriage should not. On what basis do you make this claim? This seems like an arbitrary assertion without warrant.

    Moreover, why do we maintain the distinction between marriage on the one hand and domestic partnership on the other? It seems that this distinction, on which much of your assertions are founded, is also arbitrary and inconsistently applied. That is to say, why is this distinction not equally applied to both cases and on what grounds is this just?

    While it is true that the California Family code recognizes domestic partnerships including same gender according to the same rights as a married couple, the rights conferred to the domestic partnership are not recognized by the federal statutes according to DOMA. Thus, if I am in a domestic partnership in California, those rights do not transfer to another state unless that state has the same definition in their code. While in CA, for instance, there is an equal regard in terms of the tax code, death, children, etc. those same rules would not apply if I was transferred by my job to say, Texas or even FL (assuming Amend 2 will pass). So it is clearly not an equality of merit or rights that this distinction levies in the wider scale.

  14. I don’t understand the fuss.

    Homosexual “marriage” is not marriage. The only argument I can discern among these posts is that “domestic partnership” is not called “marriage”.

    Legally, domestic partnership has the same ‘rights/priveliges’ as marriage. The fight is about social perception. So campaign for domestic partnership awareness or whatever. And if the social perception is the problem, changing the name of ‘domestic union’ or allowing ‘homosexual-marriage’ (though that is an impossible term) alone is not going to alter it. If the state doesn’t recognize it, campaign for ‘domestic partnership’. It isn’t marriage (ruled out by definition) and thus cannot fit under those wings.

    ===

    Point of Interest: down here in Australia, the Aboriginals lived in isolation from the world for 40,000 years in small, often warring tribes with conflicting customs, and they STILL defined their ‘marriage’, inter-tribally, as “union of male and female for life”. Not homosexual. Tribes often only declared a couple fully married when they bore their first child.

    Marriage = man + woman for life (it seems to just be one of those things, like that inexplicable absolute morality).

    To go back to the first post’s wisdom (evidently ignored):

    “What’s wrong with a square circle?” Answer: “Nothing, except that it does not exist.” Same for “homosexual marriage”.

  15. Not calling it marriage is not recognized by federal law. Thus, either call it marriage or repeal federal definitions that define marriage as between man and woman. However, it is doubtful that a federal law would change unless enough states redefine marriage first. The point here is unequal representation under federal guidelines since domestic partnerships are not represented under the law. So yes it is about definitions, but the law is all about definitions. Human behavior is governed by definitions. Perhaps the first comment was ignored due to its apparent lack of wisdom.

  16. Times change. Marriage was originally a union between one man and one OR MORE women. That’s what it was in the bible, and that’s what it was in much of our history. It often involved buying a young girl from her father without her consent. Times change, thankfully.

    For many Americans, and probably for the majority of young Americans, the word “marriage” already includes gay marriage. In twenty years, people are going to look back on your side of the debate the way we now look back on those who opposed interracial marriage. Two consenting adults who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together shouldn’t be kept apart (legally) by the federal government.

  17. “Homosexual “marriage” is not marriage. The only argument I can discern among these posts is that “domestic partnership” is not called “marriage”.

    Legally, domestic partnership has the same ‘rights/priveliges’ as marriage. The fight is about social perception. So campaign for domestic partnership awareness or whatever. And if the social perception is the problem, changing the name of ‘domestic union’ or allowing ‘homosexual-marriage’ (though that is an impossible term) alone is not going to alter it. If the state doesn’t recognize it, campaign for ‘domestic partnership’. It isn’t marriage (ruled out by definition) and thus cannot fit under those wings.”

    So we should treat people unequally if society doesn’t treat them equally? How is that fair or moral, much less legal?

    “Point of Interest: down here in Australia, the Aboriginals lived in isolation from the world for 40,000 years in small, often warring tribes with conflicting customs, and they STILL defined their ‘marriage’, inter-tribally, as “union of male and female for life”. Not homosexual. Tribes often only declared a couple fully married when they bore their first child.”

    So infertile people can’t get married?

    “Marriage = man + woman for life (it seems to just be one of those things, like that inexplicable absolute morality).”

    And male domination, and sexism, infanticide and tribalism… you aren’t helping your case with the fallacy of appeal to nature.

    “To go back to the first post’s wisdom (evidently ignored):

    “What’s wrong with a square circle?” Answer: “Nothing, except that it does not exist.” Same for “homosexual marriage”.”

    Give me a curved surface and I can give you a square circle.

  18. “The fight is about social perception.”

    No way. The state recognizes the relationship, but the federal tax code does not. That is taxation without representation. Clearly if a state calls the relationship what it wants, it does not have any legitimacy that is transferable or recognized by other political entities (except MA and CT right now). It is thus clear that there is no equal regard for marriage and domestic partnership once you get outside of CA state lines (and that definition changes often dramatically with each state by the way).

    But it might be a moot issue anyway. This will all be different in 10 years since on Prop 8 younger voters were overwhelmingly against it. That cohort, I predict will hold.

    The rest of your assertions are red herrings.

  19. Sorry for pushing the expression beyond its use. Same gender unions, partnerships, etc. are not recognized equally under the tax code and other civil liberties and are thus taxed (literally and figuratively) without equal representation as married couples. This is consistent from either merit or equality arguments.

  20. Drew Tatusko @ 2008-11-05 7:54 am
    Not calling it marriage is not recognized by federal law. Thus, either call it marriage or repeal federal definitions that define marriage as between man and woman… The point here is unequal representation under federal guidelines since domestic partnerships are not represented under the law.

    You seem to miss the third (and really only option, lest squares become circles, yellows become blues – unless all definitions are relative): campaign for Domestic partnership to hold equal rights as marriage. Why is this not the path taken?

    But then, this (my original post included) is way off topic anyway. The real question is “what is the purpose of marriage, and what is our attitude towards it”? To get taxation benefits? Because we deserve it? It is owed to us? To quote the original topic:

    {Tom Gilson}…the problem is the attitude, “I’m going to do what I want unless you can prove to me it’s hurting someone else”—with the standard for such proof set impossibly high, by the way.

    An approach like this is rights-oriented instead of responsibility-oriented…

    I quite agree.

    JewishAtheist @ 2008-11-05 8:27 am
    Times change. Marriage was originally a union between one man and one OR MORE women. That’s what it was in the bible, and that’s what it was in much of our history.

    If you are going to appeal to the Bible, at least do it correctly. Marriage was originally “…a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” {Genesis 2:24). Your fallacy is the attitude “it appears in the Bible, or this person did it, therefore God thought it was okay”. Question: did God ever pronounce polygomy good? No. By that logic, because Israel rebelled time and time again from worshiping God, that also was okay by God. Again, No.

    For many Americans, and probably for the majority of young Americans, the word “marriage” already includes gay marriage. In twenty years, people are going to look back on your side of the debate the way we now look back on those who opposed interracial marriage.

    Either marriage is a relative moral question (relative morals have been debunked logically everywhere, and Tom has posted on it many times, but I can link for you if you like), or it is not a moral question (obviously I think it is). Is marriage a moral question, or just a preference? If it is just a preference, can someone marry a girl of five? Or are there boundaries of what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’?

    Re: “in twenty years…”. I am not sure the comparison works, for in the Bible Moses was married to a woman from Cush (black), and God defended him against Aaron and his wife who took offense to it. Forbidding/disparaging interracial marriage = unbiblical. But I do hope we can look back on it in twenty years and think with such 3000+year old common sense, and recognize that the stable, perfectly complimentary union is between a man and woman (even the anatomy agrees…).

  21. Samuel Skinner @ 2008-11-05 1:49 pm

    Legally, domestic partnership has the same ‘rights/priveliges’ as marriage. The fight is about social perception. So campaign for domestic partnership awareness or whatever. And if the social perception is the problem, changing the name of ‘domestic union’ or allowing ‘homosexual-marriage’ (though that is an impossible term) alone is not going to alter it. If the state doesn’t recognize it, campaign for ‘domestic partnership’. It isn’t marriage (ruled out by definition) and thus cannot fit under those wings.”

    So we should treat people unequally if society doesn’t treat them equally? How is that fair or moral, much less legal?

    Am I advocating unequal treatment of people? No. If you read what I wrote, I said that “domestic partnership is not marriage – you should campaign to have it equally recognized legally (it is, bar some taxing issues) and socially, not try and redefine it. How is this unequal?

    And I am not arguing from the perspective of “I want”. What is this modern day perspective that everything must be “fair” = “I should be allowed it”? What ever happened to “some things just are”?

    I am arguing from the perspective that marriage is a moral question – or whether it is – as the rest of my post should reiterate ad nauseum.

    “Point of Interest: down here in Australia, the Aboriginals lived in isolation from the world for 40,000 years in small, often warring tribes with conflicting customs, and they STILL defined their ‘marriage’, inter-tribally, as “union of male and female for life”. Not homosexual. Tribes often only declared a couple fully married when they bore their first child.”

    So infertile people can’t get married?

    Nice. A shallow attack. If you have a problem with that, direct your objection to Aboriginal culture – that is not my view. I mention it to emphasize their culture’s feeling towards the matter (despite tribal differences in other matters).

    Notice how I stated “Point of interest: in Aboriginal history…”. Why is it that after 40,000 years of segregated history, Aboriginal culture still maintained and arrived at the same concept of marriage? You will notice that my argument is not an argument per se.

    Forgive me, but I was trying to provoke thought into why does a culture 40,000 years segregated still view marriage the same as has always been traditional in european/middle eastern culture.

    Again, is it an absolute, that marriage is woman + man is good, like how generosity is good (why?), and lying is wrong (why??)?

    Or is it just a flip of the coin, a preference?

    “Marriage = man + woman for life (it seems to just be one of those things, like that inexplicable absolute morality).”

    And male domination, and sexism, infanticide and tribalism… you aren’t helping your case with the fallacy of appeal to nature.

    Again, another shallow “aha!” response. But again, you mistake what I said. Did I offer nature as proof (“point of interest:” a.k.a. “THINK ABOUT THIS!”)? No. I wanted to know why a segregated society holds the same value of marriage as european/middle eastern culture has taught.

    Was it coincidence?

    If they hold the same value, should we begin to question whether marriage falls under the scary grounds of ‘absolute morality’?

    Or is it again merely a preference?

    (I would be interested in the history of the Aztecs and North American Indians, as to if they also had marriage – this would be an example of ‘convergent evolution’ applied socially; but I am not advocating evolution, and this/I am already off the posting topic!).

    “To go back to the first post’s wisdom (evidently ignored):
    “What’s wrong with a square circle?” Answer: “Nothing, except that it does not exist.” Same for “homosexual marriage”.”

    Give me a curved surface and I can give you a square circle.

    I am not sure you understand what the quote means. It says that just because you call something another name, doesn’t mean it is.

    ***

    Perhaps one question will suffice for all my rambling:

    Is marriage governed by morality, or a preference?

    And if it is goverened by morality (“whaddayamean I can’t marry my sister?!”) then whose morality? (…but that’s two questions… :/)

    -Tristan Ingle.

  22. “You seem to miss the third (and really only option, lest squares become circles, yellows become blues – unless all definitions are relative): campaign for Domestic partnership to hold equal rights as marriage. Why is this not the path taken?

    But then, this (my original post included) is way off topic anyway. The real question is “what is the purpose of marriage, and what is our attitude towards it”? To get taxation benefits? Because we deserve it? It is owed to us? To quote the original topic:”

    Seperate but equal… where on Earth have I heard that before?

    “Question: did God ever pronounce polygomy good? No. By that logic, because Israel rebelled time and time again from worshiping God, that also was okay by God. Again, No.”

    Abraham, Father of Israel and choosen by God himself did it. I’m pretty sure there were non-polygamous canidates available.

    “Either marriage is a relative moral question (relative morals have been debunked logically everywhere, and Tom has posted on it many times, but I can link for you if you like), or it is not a moral question (obviously I think it is). Is marriage a moral question, or just a preference? If it is just a preference, can someone marry a girl of five? Or are there boundaries of what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’?”

    Or it is a choice and preferance. It isn’t like liking the color red is wrong. It is only bad when you start killing people for “more red paint”.

    Or have you ignored the constant “informed consent” people have repeated about sex?

    “Re: “in twenty years…”. I am not sure the comparison works, for in the Bible Moses was married to a woman from Cush (black), and God defended him against Aaron and his wife who took offense to it. Forbidding/disparaging interracial marriage = unbiblical. But I do hope we can look back on it in twenty years and think with such 3000+year old common sense,”

    He was talking about religious people in the US. And Moses wasn’t exactly white you know.

    “and recognize that the stable, perfectly complimentary union is between a man and woman (even the anatomy agrees…).”

    So does the anatomy of 10 year olds. We don’t have sex with them.

    As for stable and perfectly complemtary, don’t tell me you buy into that “seperate spheres” BS.

    “And I am not arguing from the perspective of “I want”. What is this modern day perspective that everything must be “fair” = “I should be allowed it”? What ever happened to “some things just are”? ”

    Well, you seem to be saying that other people shouldn’t have rights… because you like having a word have a certain definition.

    “I am arguing from the perspective that marriage is a moral question – or whether it is – as the rest of my post should reiterate ad nauseum.”

    Contracts are not moral questions.

    “Nice. A shallow attack. If you have a problem with that, direct your objection to Aboriginal culture – that is not my view. I mention it to emphasize their culture’s feeling towards the matter (despite tribal differences in other matters).”

    I’m following your own logic. You have not said HOW it is not consistant, just name called.

    As for “their cultures feeling” we DON’T do relativism here.

    “Forgive me, but I was trying to provoke thought into why does a culture 40,000 years segregated still view marriage the same as has always been traditional in european/middle eastern culture. ”

    Perhaps it is the same reason guys were always hunters? Some of us HAVE taken sociology you know.

    “Again, is it an absolute, that marriage is woman + man is good, like how generosity is good (why?), and lying is wrong (why??)? ”

    Because people live in societies. There isn’t anything magic about it.

    “Again, another shallow “aha!” response. But again, you mistake what I said. Did I offer nature as proof (”point of interest:” a.k.a. “THINK ABOUT THIS!”)? No. I wanted to know why a segregated society holds the same value of marriage as european/middle eastern culture has taught.”

    You dodge the point that such thinking justifies such behavior.

    “If they hold the same value, should we begin to question whether marriage falls under the scary grounds of ‘absolute morality’?”

    You do realize that multiple modern countires hold differant views? Guess it isn’t so absolute.

    “I am not sure you understand what the quote means. It says that just because you call something another name, doesn’t mean it is. ”

    Actually it does. If you call something a differant name, it adopts the new label. Its features don’t change, but the label does. Which is the whole point.

    “Is marriage governed by morality, or a preference?”

    Preferance. There isn’t a “moral choice” for who to marry- it is who you want… well, who will agree.

    “And if it is goverened by morality (”whaddayamean I can’t marry my sister?!”) then whose morality? (…but that’s two questions… :/)”

    You do realize, non-moral behavior is still governed by morality? Playing a board game is not a moral or immoral act, but stabing another player would be.

    In this case we are dealing with consent. Which is required for legal contracts. As for marrying your sister, the main objection is that it leads to birth defects.

    Of course, differant places have differant views- look at cousin marriage in the US!

  23. “You seem to miss the third (and really only option, lest squares become circles, yellows become blues – unless all definitions are relative): campaign for Domestic partnership to hold equal rights as marriage. Why is this not the path taken?

    But then, this (my original post included) is way off topic anyway. The real question is “what is the purpose of marriage, and what is our attitude towards it”? To get taxation benefits? Because we deserve it? It is owed to us? To quote the original topic:”

    Seperate but equal… where on Earth have I heard that before?

    You did not answer the question, rather making a snippet again.

    Why is the third option not chosen?

    “Question: did God ever pronounce polygomy good? No. By that logic, because Israel rebelled time and time again from worshiping God, that also was okay by God. Again, No.”

    Abraham, Father of Israel and choosen by God himself did it. I’m pretty sure there were non-polygamous canidates available.

    You did not answer the question. Was it pronounced good? Again, as I said before, you make the mistake of thinking that because it appears in the Bible, God approves. But, if you read, Abraham was justified before God by his faith.

    I think the POINT of the Bible is yes, that people aren’t perfect, and need some rescuing!

    “Either marriage is a relative moral question (relative morals have been debunked logically everywhere, and Tom has posted on it many times, but I can link for you if you like), or it is not a moral question (obviously I think it is). Is marriage a moral question, or just a preference? If it is just a preference, can someone marry a girl of five? Or are there boundaries of what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’?”

    Or it is a choice and preferance. It isn’t like liking the color red is wrong. It is only bad when you start killing people for “more red paint”.

    Or have you ignored the constant “informed consent” people have repeated about sex?

    Again, you have not answered anything. Is marriage a choice and preference (I meant “preference” interchangeably with ‘decision to…’)?

    “Re: “in twenty years…”. I am not sure the comparison works, for in the Bible Moses was married to a woman from Cush (black), and God defended him against Aaron and his wife who took offense to it. Forbidding/disparaging interracial marriage = unbiblical. But I do hope we can look back on it in twenty years and think with such 3000+year old common sense,”

    He was talking about religious people in the US. And Moses wasn’t exactly white you know.

    I know he was. And my point was not what “people thought” but what is true. To use an example, Bush can say “God wanted me to be president”, but that doesn’t make it true.

    “and recognize that the stable, perfectly complimentary union is between a man and woman (even the anatomy agrees…).”

    So does the anatomy of 10 year olds. We don’t have sex with them.

    As for stable and perfectly complemtary, don’t tell me you buy into that “seperate spheres” BS.

    So sex and marriage are governed by morality then? If it is mere choice and preference, then how dare you tell someone they cannot sleep with 10yr olds.

    If we’re going to make quips, then don’t tell me you think that man-man/woman-woman are better complementary than man-woman? You do realize that in homo-sexual relationships one person acts more feminine and the other more masculine (seriously, talk around). Why is this?

    “And I am not arguing from the perspective of “I want”. What is this modern day perspective that everything must be “fair” = “I should be allowed it”? What ever happened to “some things just are”? ”

    Well, you seem to be saying that other people shouldn’t have rights… because you like having a word have a certain definition.

    How so? I have, for the umpteenth time, stated that domestic partnership should campaign for equal social perception, taxation benefits, ETC.

    I am giving you the rights, but not the word. Because it is not the word. Why does it need to be called ‘marriage’?

    Why is it a problem that I cannot accept something being called what it is not? Square circles again… some things ARE.

    “I am arguing from the perspective that marriage is a moral question – or whether it is – as the rest of my post should reiterate ad nauseum.”

    Contracts are not moral questions.

    …again, so someone can marry a 10 year old? As you say, a contract is not a moral question. For that matter, an assassination contract is not a moral question?

    Perhaps you meant something else?

    “Nice. A shallow attack. If you have a problem with that, direct your objection to Aboriginal culture – that is not my view. I mention it to emphasize their culture’s feeling towards the matter (despite tribal differences in other matters).”

    I’m following your own logic. You have not said HOW it is not consistant, just name called.

    As for “their cultures feeling” we DON’T do relativism here.

    My own logic is that marriage is a question of absolute morality – it is not debatable, just like theft.

    You logic seems to be that it is merely a choice and preference, yet you adhere to it some morality such as “can’t marry 10-yrolds”.

    Which makes me ask, what is the source of your morality on this issue? Is it just from what society deems acceptable, and subject to cultural sways? If that is true then you cannot rule out that in a century “marriage” to livestock would be acceptable, nor wedding 2-yr olds.

    Again, you miss the point. See my next comment/questions.

    Again, for the 2nd time you have missed the point. Why did marriage “evolve” in the same manner, man-woman only? In a society 40,000 years segregated, no less.

    “Forgive me, but I was trying to provoke thought into why does a culture 40,000 years segregated still view marriage the same as has always been traditional in european/middle eastern culture. ”

    Perhaps it is the same reason guys were always hunters? Some of us HAVE taken sociology you know.

    ? By that logic (I assume you mean “male = stronger = dominate woman, not man”), then why isn’t the herd pattern of horses reproduced = one male per herd with a dozen or so females?

    Why monogamous? Why man-woman?

    “Again, is it an absolute, that marriage is woman + man is good, like how generosity is good (why?), and lying is wrong (why??)? ”

    Because people live in societies. There isn’t anything magic about it.

    See the comment above for the problems with relative morality.

    “Again, another shallow “aha!” response. But again, you mistake what I said. Did I offer nature as proof (”point of interest:” a.k.a. “THINK ABOUT THIS!”)? No. I wanted to know why a segregated society holds the same value of marriage as european/middle eastern culture has taught.”

    You dodge the point that such thinking justifies such behavior.

    How did I dodge the point? I never presented an argument from nature to justify anything. I said “why did they hold the same values towards marriage throughout segregation”? Read “point of interest”.

    You have not answered any of the questions I presented.

    “If they hold the same value, should we begin to question whether marriage falls under the scary grounds of ‘absolute morality’?”

    You do realize that multiple modern countires hold differant views? Guess it isn’t so absolute.

    … does “absolute” mean “defined by the masses”? No. That is relativism.

    Again, you miss the point. Why did a society 40,000 years removed hold the same values towards marriage? (I am going to be sick if I repeat that one more time:/ I sound like a politician jamming a catch phrase over the airways).

    “I am not sure you understand what the quote means. It says that just because you call something another name, doesn’t mean it is. ”

    Actually it does. If you call something a differant name, it adopts the new label. Its features don’t change, but the label does. Which is the whole point.

    … you have refuted yourself with your own words:

    I said: “just because you call something another name, doesn’t mean it is.”

    You said: “its features don’t change, but the label does. Which is the whole point.”

    I know.

    “Is marriage governed by morality, or a preference?”

    Preferance. There isn’t a “moral choice” for who to marry- it is who you want… well, who will agree.

    Again, you have refuted yourself:

    I said: “Is marriage governed by morality”

    You said: “it is who you want… well, (those) who will agree.”

    If it is preference, then why does it matter if someone consents or not? If you care about consent, immediately it becomes a moral situation. Which you say it is not.

    “And if it is goverened by morality (”whaddayamean I can’t marry my sister?!”) then whose morality? (…but that’s two questions… :/)”

    You do realize, non-moral behavior is still governed by morality? Playing a board game is not a moral or immoral act, but stabing another player would be.

    In this case we are dealing with consent. Which is required for legal contracts. As for marrying your sister, the main objection is that it leads to birth defects.

    Yikes! Obviously I think it is not the birth defects, but the fact that it is a blood relative (though legal relative too is immoral), but…

    …if it could be proven (in the distant future) that the marriage of a certain brother and sister would not lead to birth defects, then it would be morally acceptable to do so?

    But this is causal thinking. Since protected sex between a brother and sister produces no ill, it must be morally good, correct? That is what that logic dictates.

    Casual thinking (to use a relevant example) then dictates in this situation that having offspring with someone that will produce birth defects (perhaps they have a hereditary disease) is amoral. So it is not just blood-relationships, but also relationships with anybody that has hereditary disease… and soon enough we have eugenics rolled out, where people are either “fit to breed” or not.

    Far be it from me to be the one denying people’s “rights”!

    ***

    I would like to know what your source of morality is?

    {note that I am not implying you are amoral, just questioning where you go to find ‘moral sense’).

  24. You did not answer the question, rather making a snippet again.

    Why is the third option not chosen?

    Because it is following the logic of Plessy vs Fergusen which was over ruled by the Supreme COurt of the United States of America as a violation of the 14th amendment which guarentees equal protection under the law.

    Or in short my “snippet” answered the question- it is seperate but equal, which is NEVER equal.

    You did not answer the question. Was it pronounced good? Again, as I said before, you make the mistake of thinking that because it appears in the Bible, God approves. But, if you read, Abraham was justified before God by his faith.

    I think the POINT of the Bible is yes, that people aren’t perfect, and need some rescuing!

    So polygamy is okay if you are really pious? Where is your absolute morality now?

    Again, you have not answered anything. Is marriage a choice and preference (I meant “preference” interchangeably with ‘decision to…’)?

    A choice. Like all other agreements and contracts.

    So sex and marriage are governed by morality then? If it is mere choice and preference, then how dare you tell someone they cannot sleep with 10yr olds.

    Marriage isn’t a moral issue- rape is. You aren’t an American are you? Here in the states we take rape VERY seriously.

    If we’re going to make quips, then don’t tell me you think that man-man/woman-woman are better complementary than man-woman? You do realize that in homo-sexual relationships one person acts more feminine and the other more masculine (seriously, talk around). Why is this?

    Maybe because it isn’t my job to run others people life for them? It is called freedom and it makes America great. Not the best, but good enogh to die for. It means that if I want to do something and it doesn’t hurt other people or cause problems by virtue of the action, it is NONE of your business.

    As for “gays act male and female”…. do you know ANY gay people? Because the ones I come in contact with DON’T act that way.

    How so? I have, for the umpteenth time, stated that domestic partnership should campaign for equal social perception, taxation benefits, ETC.

    I am giving you the rights, but not the word. Because it is not the word. Why does it need to be called ‘marriage’?

    Why is it a problem that I cannot accept something being called what it is not? Square circles again… some things ARE.

    So unlike every other time in human history where seperate but equal turned out to be unequal, this time will be differant? And maybe Marxism will work if we give it a try one… more… time.

    As for “how things are”… your justification is…? Oh right- your sayso.

    …again, so someone can marry a 10 year old? As you say, a contract is not a moral question. For that matter, an assassination contract is not a moral question?

    Perhaps you meant something else?

    Contracts, by themselves are NOT moral questions. They are simply agreements to fullfill certain criteria or face penalties.

    An assassination contract is wrong because the subject of the contract is immoral.

    Making an agreement with another person is NOT a moral question. It is merely a question of getting that person to agree. In the case of marriage contracts, they are an agreement between two individuals and the state. The reason the state is involved is it provides some of the benefits.

    You logic seems to be that it is merely a choice and preference, yet you adhere to it some morality such as “can’t marry 10-yrolds”.

    Because, contracts aren’t a matter of morality. Their subject can be… but only if it is immoral. You have yet to show that sex between consenting adults is immoral. It is widely accepted that is the case with children.

    Which makes me ask, what is the source of your morality on this issue? Is it just from what society deems acceptable, and subject to cultural sways? If that is true then you cannot rule out that in a century “marriage” to livestock would be acceptable, nor wedding 2-yr olds.

    Blacks were considered livestock two centuries ago. Do you realize when you say something so stuningly offensive?

    It is interesting to note that there WERE marriages in the past to people as young as the ago of two… and they occur in the present.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/world/middleeast/29marriage.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    Interestingly in a place that also believes in an absolute morality quite like your own.

    The thing is that gays can give consent, but animals and kids CANNOT. Gays are NOT children or livestock and comparing them to those is incredibly demeaning.

    My own logic is that marriage is a question of absolute morality – it is not debatable, just like theft.

    Wow. I guess you wouldn’t steal food to feed starving people. Remember- principles are MORE important than human life or suffering.

    Again, for the 2nd time you have missed the point. Why did marriage “evolve” in the same manner, man-woman only? In a society 40,000 years segregated, no less.

    For a simple and obvious reason- kids. Of course, this isn’t the first time gay marriage has occured- it happened in the Roman Empire.

    However, appeal to tradition is a logical fallacy.

    You logic seems to be that it is merely a choice and preference, yet you adhere to it some morality such as “can’t marry 10-yrolds”.

    For the same reason that talking on the internet is merely a matter of choice and preferance, but joining up with a neo-Nazi site is immoral.

    ? By that logic (I assume you mean “male = stronger = dominate woman, not man”), then why isn’t the herd pattern of horses reproduced = one male per herd with a dozen or so females?

    Why monogamous? Why man-woman?

    It is. It is called polygamy. It doesn’t occur in tribal groups because unlike horses, humans are smart enough to kill the alpha horse if the group is small enough. Bigger and he gets more power and can get away with it, bigger still and it gets rejected by mainstream society.

    See the comment above for the problems with relative morality.

    I’m not arguing relative morality. My morality is quite absolute. I’m just not a totalitarian- some items are merely personal preferance.

    How did I dodge the point? I never presented an argument from nature to justify anything. I said “why did they hold the same values towards marriage throughout segregation”? Read “point of interest”.

    You have not answered any of the questions I presented.

    I have answered them repeatedly.

    For example you consistantly ask why I am against 10 year old marriage but for gay marriage. Could it be that children are too young to marry because they don’t have the maturity, while adult homosexuals do have the maturity? Or that non-human animals don’t have the ability to communicate with us and make decisions?

    … does “absolute” mean “defined by the masses”? No. That is relativism.

    Again, you miss the point. Why did a society 40,000 years removed hold the same values towards marriage? (I am going to be sick if I repeat that one more time:/ I sound like a politician jamming a catch phrase over the airways).

    The same reason societies married outside the tribe. Or they killed outsiders. Or they fought using ambushes and trickery. Because it enabled them to survive. If you look at history and current tribes, there are oddities that didn’t take. Take a sociology or human anthropology class if you are curious.

    … you have refuted yourself with your own words:

    I said: “just because you call something another name, doesn’t mean it is.”

    You said: “its features don’t change, but the label does. Which is the whole point.”

    I know.

    No you don’t. We want marriage to include gays. It DOES actually change the meaning of what gays get- it is recognized on a federal level, in other countries and provides more benefits.

    Your objection is… that we can’t change words meanings. Because… you don’t give any reason whatsoever. You simply assert it.

    Again, you have refuted yourself:

    I said: “Is marriage governed by morality”

    You said: “it is who you want… well, (those) who will agree.”

    If it is preference, then why does it matter if someone consents or not? If you care about consent, immediately it becomes a moral situation. Which you say it is not.

    Consent is needed for contracts. It is a requirement and NOT a moral one.

    Without it, the contract is one that was taken by force and is invalid.

    Yikes! Obviously I think it is not the birth defects, but the fact that it is a blood relative (though legal relative too is immoral), but…

    …if it could be proven (in the distant future) that the marriage of a certain brother and sister would not lead to birth defects, then it would be morally acceptable to do so?

    But this is causal thinking. Since protected sex between a brother and sister produces no ill, it must be morally good, correct? That is what that logic dictates.

    So your objection to it is… you object to it. Which is why we shouldn’t do it. You know, your absolute morality would be more absolute if there were actual reasons for ANY of your positions. But you didn’t give any!

    And actions that are not morally wrong don’t have to be good- they can be neutral.

    On the gripping hand… the less you know about rule 34 the higher your sans score. A more mainstream example is Heinland.

    Casual thinking (to use a relevant example) then dictates in this situation that having offspring with someone that will produce birth defects (perhaps they have a hereditary disease) is amoral. So it is not just blood-relationships, but also relationships with anybody that has hereditary disease… and soon enough we have eugenics rolled out, where people are either “fit to breed” or not.

    Eugenics is an attempt to improve the human genepool. This is an attempt to prevent children coming into the world that have less than 50-50 chances of seeing their first birthday. Given they can’t have children anyways (they won’
    t live long enough), it isn’t eugenics.

    Far be it from me to be the one denying people’s “rights”!

    Except for marriage. Because you want them to be seperate and equal because you feel like it… which is somehow absolute morality.

    I would like to know what your source of morality is?

    {note that I am not implying you are amoral, just questioning where you go to find ‘moral sense’).

    My “source” is part of my brain. Further investigation will reveal what part, but I believe studies show it is in the frontal lobe. My justification is human happiness. You seem to have NO moral justification, merely asserting things are right or wrong… because.

    The problem with absolute moral rules is that people will find ways to screw with you. Killing is wrong… except in the military. Theft is wrong… except when we sieze mobsters assets. Or when people refuse to donate to the common pool and free ride. The police aren’t going to pay themselves!

    You seem to buy into the libertarian belief that taxation is theft… which is ironic because you also are against gay marriage. I guess you don’t see the irony supporting no regulation AND a police state.

  25. Okay. Seriously, I can’t keep replying to all this. You have demonstrated over and over again that you have no understanding of basic logic and concepts such as Absolute Morality and Relative Morality (and in other posts as well on other topics). You might think “aha he can’t answer back” – go ahead. I have tried and you have not listened. It is evident from other posts that you do not give ground, do not change your mind when presented with contradicting logic, etc. So why bother?

    ===

    I’ll just try a single one, rather than wasting 30mins on a post.

    So your objection to it is… you object to it. Which is why we shouldn’t do it. You know, your absolute morality would be more absolute if there were actual reasons for ANY of your positions. But you didn’t give any!

    And actions that are not morally wrong don’t have to be good- they can be neutral.

    Nup. You still don’t understand what absolute morality means:

    Absolutism -> wrong and right are inherent in certain actions. The reason it is wrong is because it is wrong. THAT is what “absolute” means – it doesn’t need justification, it stands by itself.

    Absolute morality doesn’t need reasons – it is.

    Causal thinking -> nothing is wrong until it produces harm/evil. Actions are dependent on their effects to be evil/good.

    Thus, by causal thinking, we say that secretly planning to kill someone, but never carrying it out, is not wrong, because it does no damage. Therefore, plotting to kill someone is morally “neutral” – its okay!

    Absolutism says that wrongness is inherent in the action of plotting to kill someone, regardless of whether it is known, unknown or carried out. It is wrong because it is wrong.

    Is that a fair representation?

    The unfortunate thing about causal thinking is that you have already presupposed absolute morality in the basis of that thinking.

    In the aforementioned example, using causal thinking:

    A man murders another man. It is wrong because he has taken life/inflicted harm/hurt that family/etc.

    …why is taking life wrong? Why is inflicting harm wrong?

    In the end, causal thinking still dwindles back to absolute morals -> assuming that taking/harm is wrong.

    Why?

  26. Okay. Seriously, I can’t keep replying to all this. You have demonstrated over and over again that you have no understanding of basic logic and concepts such as Absolute Morality and Relative Morality (and in other posts as well on other topics). You might think “aha he can’t answer back” – go ahead. I have tried and you have not listened. It is evident from other posts that you do not give ground, do not change your mind when presented with contradicting logic, etc. So why bother?”

    You are defending immoral actions based on your personal opinion and calling it abolute. It is common amoung libertarians to think that rights and morality are absolute and think the government is wrong to mess with them, ignoring the fact that moral questions generally occur when two principles collide.

    Absolutism -> wrong and right are inherent in certain actions. The reason it is wrong is because it is wrong. THAT is what “absolute” means – it doesn’t need justification, it stands by itself.

    Absolute morality doesn’t need reasons – it is.

    Than it isn’t absolute because it has no justification. ANYTHING can be choosen. I could say Gay Marriage is GOOD and you could say it is bad and we would go round and round till the stars die.

    The thinking you are espousing is relativist- there is no reason to choose one ethic over another in your line of thought. You choose the one you like.

    Causal thinking -> nothing is wrong until it produces harm/evil. Actions are dependent on their effects to be evil/good.

    Thus, by causal thinking, we say that secretly planning to kill someone, but never carrying it out, is not wrong, because it does no damage. Therefore, plotting to kill someone is morally “neutral” – its okay!

    Thinking about it in your head IS a morally neutral action. Getting people together is an actual action.

    Absolutism says that wrongness is inherent in the action of plotting to kill someone, regardless of whether it is known, unknown or carried out. It is wrong because it is wrong.

    Is that a fair representation?

    So you just admitted you are immoral. You are aware there are cases were conspiring to kill IS a moral action?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valkyrie_(film)

    The unfortunate thing about causal thinking is that you have already presupposed absolute morality in the basis of that thinking.

    In the aforementioned example, using causal thinking:

    Except that it doesn’t. I don’t assume killing is intrinsically wrong.

    A man murders another man. It is wrong because he has taken life/inflicted harm/hurt that family/etc.

    …why is taking life wrong? Why is inflicting harm wrong?

    In the end, causal thinking still dwindles back to absolute morals -> assuming that taking/harm is wrong.

    Why?

    Because that is the goal of morality- to minimize harm.

    Thanks for shortening it.

  27. (see my earlier posts on what absolute morality is, because you still seem confused about it – I want to focus on the next little bit of your post:)

    Causal thinking -> nothing is wrong until it produces harm/evil. Actions are dependent on their effects to be evil/good.

    Thus, by causal thinking, we say that secretly planning to kill someone, but never carrying it out, is not wrong, because it does no damage. Therefore, plotting to kill someone is morally “neutral” – its okay!

    Thinking about it in your head IS a morally neutral action. Getting people together is an actual action.

    Getting people together, drawing a map/timetable of how to kill them are still morally neutral, because they of themselves produce no wrong/right. If you used the map then it would be wrong, but the example I am giving specifies that the murder is not carried thru and is not discovered. Therefore even if you went to the person’s house and watched them with a knife in hand, it would be morally neutral so long as you were not discovered.

    That is how you defined it:

    For an action to be morally good/bad, a good/bad effect must be demonstrated. Everything depends on results for morality.

    Therefore…

    -It is okay to plot to kill someone on the street or your family, provided you are not discovered/don’t carry it out.

    -It is okay to look at another man’s wife, or another woman’s husband and fantasize, lust after them, provided you are not discovered.

    -It is okay to take pictures upskirt/of naked children, provided you are not discovered.

    And you may object, but these actions are morally neutral, since:
    -the person/wife/husband/children are unaware of this, and it doesn’t affect them (don’t know therefore not harmed emotionally, nor harmed physically).
    -there are no ramifications to any of the people involved

    Do you honestly agree with all that? Because that is what your “moral system”.

    ***(please just focus on the above, the rest is less important, me just clarifying some things you misunderstand)***

    Absolutism says that wrongness is inherent in the action of plotting to kill someone, regardless of whether it is known, unknown or carried out. It is wrong because it is wrong.

    Is that a fair representation?

    So you just admitted you are immoral. You are aware there are cases were conspiring to kill IS a moral action?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valkyrie_(film)

    ?Did I claim I was perfect? And we are discussing “absolute vs relative morality” not “I’m better than you”.

    …That’s what I’ve been saying! Killing is always a moral action! Morally wrong! Now, before you retort with “what about ww2, etc”, I will tell you that England (and others) made the morally correct decision to fight back rather than surrender. Why?

    …why is taking life wrong? Why is inflicting harm wrong?

    In the end, causal thinking still dwindles back to absolute morals -> assuming that taking/harm is wrong.

    Why?

    Because that is the goal of morality- to minimize harm.
    Thanks for shortening it.

    And thanks for rewording it without answering it. But you have still made an absolutist assumption that harm is wrong, is undesirable.

    Why is harm wrong? Why does your morality aim to reduce harm? Why not increase it, if it benefits you? Or why not increase harm regardless?

    Why is harm wrong?

    (I am speaking relatively here -> obviously absolute morals aren’t determined by “goals”).

  28. Elton John understands that Prop 8 wasn’t about violating equal rights and promoting homophobia and hate. Wish all those angry protesters could understand the same.

    “The word marriage, I think, puts a lot of people off. You get the same equal rights that we do when we have a civil partnership. Heterosexual people get married. We can have civil partnerships.”

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