Head to Head
Should Gay marriage be legalized?
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 16:10
Joshua Haider; Gay Marriage Hurts Society
Let me say right from the get-go that this is a hard side for me to write, not just in terms of the case that I will make, but in terms of the people who could be hurt to find that this is my position on the matter. I have a number of LGBT individuals among my friends, brothers and co-workers, including one person who I have known for close to 10 years and count as one of my closest friends.
That being said, I am not usually very vocal about my position, so it might come as somewhat of a shock. However, obeying one’s conscience and doing the best that one knows how to do the right thing by themselves and other people is at least as important, if not more, as maintaining the bonds of friendship. So, I find myself willingly taking up the flag in support of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, which will formally define marriage as being solely between one man and one woman.
I will focus on the shape and purpose of marriage, as well as the family that marriage creates, and how the idea of alternate legal unions fits with it. I consider myself openly Catholic, but I’ve tried to avoid a religious argument here, just to see how well it goes.
First, marriage, both as a naturally-shaped and legally-recognized institution, is essentially for making and raising children to make a family. We can all agree that marriage is at least about people who share a romantic attraction for each other and desire to formalize their commitment to fidelity with each other. Furthermore, no one would debate that, no matter what else may qualify as marriage, a marriage between one man and one woman is at least one valid form.
When men and women have sex, a very predictable and natural outcome of it is that a child is conceived. Aristotle argued, albeit more generally, that if some action results consistently in a certain outcome, that action tends toward that outcome-- that’s its purpose. Since marriage results in sex (it certainly wouldn’t be as much fun without), and sex results in children, it’s a logical deduction that children are part and parcel of marriage. When a man and woman plan to marry and are asked about their plans for their future, people constantly ask, “How many children do you want to have?”
Many same-sex couples want to adopt children as part of their family. Whatever may be called “sex” or “marriage,” the two are not inherently sterile. If that were the case, there would be no need for birth control. Additionally, children are important and desirable because they become productive citizens who continue with each generation to support the ones before and generally because we as people desire relationships with others, whose lives are good for their own sake. Families that raise children are the building blocks of society and they make life for successive generations possible and qualitatively better.
Since children and the families in which they are raised are important, the state and, more importantly, the people it represents have an interest in families as the building blocks of society. Children are the substantial focus of that interest, including how they are raised. As a result of this interest, society, in its representatives and laws, has the prerogative and the obligation to do that, which makes it possible for families and children to be created and formed under the best circumstances possible.
A family which does not adopt this form-- where at least one biological parent is missing-- inherently lacks the stability of a nuclear family. Take, for example, divorced families. Say a man and a woman from previous marriages with children get married; the husband will typically consider his own children over the other participants in the family, whereas the wife will typically consider her new husband over even her own children, studies have shown.
This is the case for any kind of family, and especially families in which the children are only related by virtue of their parents’ marriage. Granted, extraordinary circumstances, such as the death of a spouse or adoption, are different situations, but they are the exceptions that prove the principles. Even when no party could have done any better in an alternate situation, there is an inherent potential for instability in those families.
The idea of extraordinary circumstance, as well, is to replicate, as closely as possible, the family as it should have ideally been, so as to help stability. Barring said circumstances-- basically, if it can be helped otherwise-- it is wrong to put children in a situation which is at their disadvantage (and that of their parents) if it can be helped, especially in light of the fact that having children that aren’t your own, merely on account of desire for them on the part of potential parents, is not a right.
Most people who argue in favor of changing marriage claim that people ought to have the right to do whatever they want to, so long as it does not hurt anybody other than themselves. However, this consequentialist thinking is short-sighted and does not give enough consideration to human dignity and the importance of the person, especially the one who may be hurting themselves.
Same-sex “marriages,” which are central to the controversy surrounding this amendment, lack this stability on a number of fronts. First, the nature of a family resulting from same-sex union requires that children do not have consistent access, if any at all, to one or more of their biological parents. Though traditional marriage-based families can of course be unstable, non-traditional marriage puts children in a family with a potential for instability, which does not exist in heterosexual marriages with biological families.