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More on the Same-Sex Marriage Debate
Comments by Jimmie on the last post:
My opposition against gay marriage has nothing to do with "disgust" nor with my own personal beliefs. It is grounded solely in the societal problems that it has already caused in countries where it is already legal. That analysis, done mostly by Stanley Kurtz in Scandinavia and (as I recall) the Holland show that instituting gay marriage has an adverse impact on traditional marriage and has led to higher divorce rates and out of wedlock births. Now that might not seem liks such a big deal, except that children who grow up in those sort of relationships suffer all sorts of problems as they grow into adulthood - everything from greter likelihood of committing crimes and spending time in jail to lower educational levels and poverty. Those, I hope you will agree, do impact each of us individually.

(note: I read this article by Stanley Kurtz to get an idea of supposed harm same-sex marriages cause when allowed)

Reply: I hope you can forgive my scepticism about your motivations for opposing same-sex marriages. You claim that same-sex marriages causes higher divorce rates and more out of wedlock births - yet you ignored the question in my last post: then why do we permit divorce? If you are truly opposed to same-sex marriage only because it harms society in these ways, you would surely oppose the legality of divorce as well. In fact, you could even support same-sex marriages and want divorce to be outlawed - that would take care of the divorce problem at least.

Mr. Kurtz seems to believe that the core purpose of marriage "is to bind children to their mothers and fathers." Well, it's great that he has an opinion on it - but that doesn't give him authority to force his marital philosophy on people who believe that something like mutual love is the core of marriage. And again, why is he wasting his time arguing against same-sex marriage - shouldn't he be arguing for the prohibition of divorce as well? If anyone can give me a good reason why, in context of this argument, it makes any sense to allow divorce but not same-sex marriage, please tell me.

In the article I read, Mr. Kurtz didn't present any of his research. But I'm willing to bet that his 'research' is based on, at best, correlational studies and his own (probably non-verifiable) theories. From the article, it sounds like he thinks that people in societies that allow same-sex marriage get the crazy idea that marriage is a "mere celebration of the love of two adults" and then they are more likely to have children outside of marriage and to get divorced. And here we have the problem of correlation being mistaken for causation. Did the allowing of same-sex marriages cause people's attitudes to change? Or, as seems far more plausible, was same-sex marriage legalized because people had already come to view marriage as a "mere celebration of the love of two adults"? I think the latter is almost certainly the case - if everyone in these countries had shared Mr. Kurtz's view that the purpose of marriage is to keep children with their parents, same-sex marriage would probably never have become legal.

Greater Concerns:

Now, for the sake of argument I'll assume the highly questionable claim that legalizing same-sex marriage would cause a higher divorce rate and more out of wedlock births. So what? You don't like it, I know. You say that children born out of wedlock are at greater risk for "everything from greater likelihood of committing crimes and spending time in jail to lower educational levels and poverty. Those, I hope you will agree, do impact each of us individually."

So what, we're supposed to make divorce illegal and make it illegal for a person to have children out of wedlock because those children are statistically more likely to commit crimes? The argument for doing so would be exactly the same as your argument against same-sex marriage, only the connection would be much more clear. You, or Kurtz at least, want to outlaw same-sex marriage just because you think it might eventually change the way people think about marriage.

Why don't we put the blame where it belongs here. In general, people who commit crimes choose to do so. Growing up in a single parent home isn't an excuse. There is no causal link here - whatever situation these children are put in, there is nothing stopping them from not becoming criminals. And when somewhere around half of all marriages today end in divorce, there are far too many examples of people who grew up with only one parent who did not become criminals for that argument to have any weight.

So yes, if someone chooses to commit a crime against me it's going to affect me - but you would turn into an insane dictator very quickly if you tried to control every aspect of society and culture that you think might increase the chances of people choosing to break the law. And, if there is any connection at all, legalizing same-sex marriage would have such a tiny impact on children's breaking the law compared to other things we are allowed to do (like not having to get government authorization to leave your home to go out at night), it is absolutely ridiculous to try to outlaw same-sex marriages while allowing other practices that are more clearly tied to an increase in crime.

People are supposed to be innocent of a crime if they haven't (yet) committed one, aren't they? Government restrictions as pre-emptive anti-crime measures just don't hold with that belief - we might as well start locking up people who fit the Possible Future Criminal Profile.

About out of wedlock children having a greater risk for poor education and poverty - well, the same argument I just made works for this as well. But no, that does not impact me individually in any significant way. Aside from the fact that my tax money might well go to some of these impoverished individuals, but the problem in that case is the fact that the government provides aid for the needy. It's bad enough that I'm forced to provide for people against my will, and it would be even worse for the government to take away more of my freedoms in some clumsy effort to possibly prevent the poverty level from increasing.

Conclusion:

There's no clear link between the permitting of same-sex marriage and any increase in divorce and out of wedlock births, and the connection between same-sex marriage and more crime and poverty is even less clear than that.

You have to have pretty much no belief in individual freedom to make these kinds of arguments against same-sex marriage. If same-sex marriage did have any actual connection to increases in crime, poverty, and the like, and that connection was enough reason for same-sex marriage to be outlawed, then the same reason could serve to outlaw just about anything. Divorce? That's obvious. In fact, it's almost absurd to think that someone would speak out against same-sex marriage on these grounds instead of divorce. Actually supporting divorce would be flat out hypocritical for someone making these arguments. As would supporting the legality of out of wedlock marriage - why not just make it illegal?

The fact is that as much as the State through popular vote or otherwise tries to preserve any traditional cultural notion, it just doesn't have the power to overcome other outside factors. Times change, people change. Ideas of marriage change - you did notice that parents no longer force their children into arranged marriage at 13, and women aren't stoned to death for adultery, right?

Wanting to protect children and give them a good life is wonderful. But you can't force two free adults to live together if they don't want to anymore. And you certainly can't prevent every couple from wanting to seperate no matter how much you try to control culture by legislation. The government could never succeed at controlling culture anyway - so why not just do the right thing, the American thing, the thing anyone who truly believes in freedom would do, and keep the government's legislative paws out of our culture?

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