I am disgusted by the feeling that there’s a sentiment of equality or liberty, except if you’re not like me. Thankfully, among my direct peers this isn’t the case, but I see it among my fellow citizens.
It affects our discourse on what makes one American, be it as their political affiliation, their religion, their socio-economic standing, their need-set or some other belief system. Everyone wants to feel repressed these days which minimalizes and nominializes those who actually are. We’re all hurting, sure, but civil rights shouldn’t be up for the same debate. None of us can truly have freedom or success if some of us are inherently being actively repressed.
There are several course of issue that inherently bother me and this is the first I feel obligated to approach, not because it affects me but because it impacts me and my life choices now that another State Government has chosen to minimize its Citizenry which includes people like me despite the legislation not being the initial target. I chose to fight the good fight before the hatred was rekindled, during a nearly five year sabbatical in which the sentiments of the general populous swung from nominally supportive and minority of accepting to majority of supportive and accepting. The last stand of legalized bigotry is here, I hope and this is why I believe it will meet its ultimate doom soon:
Born as a Secular Nation
First, and foremost, the United States is a secular nation. The Founding Fathers of the United states were of different faiths and beliefs without a single creed or religion unifying them. Of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, 49 were Protestants which included 28 that were Church of England / Episcopalian, eight were Presbyterians, seven were Congregationalists, two were Lutherans, two were Dutch Reformed, and two were Methodists. Three others were Roman Catholics. A few prominent Founding Fathers were anti-clerical Christians, or deitists and the list of beliefs of signatories of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, US Constitution and other key early founding documents included among them Unitarian, Baptist, non-denominational (spiritual) Christian, Quaker, agnostic and of other Reformed or Orthodox beliefs. Many of them did indeed hold positions of influence in their respective communities. However, no single belief prevailed and although many of them did draw on the morals and values provided to them by their religious beliefs none sought to hold their belief in higher regard than that of their fellow men in the creation of the nation.
There are few references to God within the early works founding the country and every mention is done in a non-denominational highly ambiguous way so as to be as inclusive as possible among the many competing faiths participation in the birth of the nation. When it came to the definitive work of founding the US as we know it, the Constitution prohibits religion from playing a part in defining public office. There is no religious test viable for either being a representative or participation in the choosing of one. Furthermore, in the Bill of Rights, the first amendment begins with Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Thus providing a separation between religions practicing in the US and the civil government as it pertains to all citizens whereas the Government neither favors nor represses the practice of any religion and religion does not influence the impact of Civil Government on its citizens overall. A number of references to the importance of these can be seen in the writings of the Founding Fathers, particularly in the Federalist Papers. This conviction was upheld by the US Supreme Court when it contended there was an inherent and necessary “separation of church and state” and has continued to be used by the Court in defining such matters since the Decision in
Indeed, the US not only embraces the concept of religious freedom but thoroughly exploits it. The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, and published in 2011 by the National Council of Churches of Christ in USA reported 73 different denominations associated to it, while Association of Religion Data Archives in 2000 segmented religious affiliation into 17 broad categories and American Religious Identification Survey 2008 identified 12 broad categories with more than 20 sub-categories attempting to classify US religions.
All of those religions all essentially co-exist because of how the Civil Government theoretically exists. No religion embodies the moral or ethical standard of the Civil Government and the government makes no attempt at legislating a moral or ethical standard to be placed on any of the religious affiliations its Citizens choose to adhere to.
Constitutions as Rights Granters
The correct use of a Constitution should be to lay forth the rights, privileges and responsibilities of a Citizenry. In the US Constitution the enumeration of rights and responsibilities is fairly clearly laid out as such. The crux of the document prescribes which parts of the Government will oversee which jurisdictions, granting them their powers and explaining their responsibilities. The addition of the Bill of Rights to the end further provides rights and responsibility enumeration to the Citizens themselves. Always, does the documents grant rights. The one lone exception to the granting of rights came in the form of Prohibition which stripped away rights from the Citizenry and was subsequently repealed when it was fully understood how counter this ran to the foundation of what the country was supposedly built on.
Most of the individual states in creating their Constitutions adopted a very similar motif outlining the divisions of Government granting rights and explaining responsibilities. In a great many cases, the only successful and lasting changes to these Constitutions continue to be those which grant rights and responsibilities to Citizens, not strip them away. The embarrassment most legislatures face is in the light of self-imposed bigotry in an attempt to repress a minority group and lay forth a second-class citizenry among its people even if it was supposed to be of the intent of representing a majority idea.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of examples of misguided attempts at Constitutional amendments at both the State and Federal level that ignore these valuable lessons in history and our own country’s foundation. Many of these come at the hands of political leaders responding to the will of their constituents even if it is shown they are not representative of the greater good of the nation while the more recent trend is to place these changes to the Constitutions to the will of the people themselves. This creates a mob rule mentality where a well mobilized minority or ill-informed majority can use the popular vote in order to repress the rights and privileges of another group. Most of these attempts when faced with legal challenges are being called out on face value as illegal by judges who are purported to have a more impartial view of the rights of law. Thus, further providing that rights should not be voted on when the tempest can be that of repression rather than the inherit granting thereof.
Religious Freedom in the US
Inherently, there become conflicts when the rights of one group are in direct conflict with the rights of another group. Such is the case particularly with religious beliefs versus the broader effects of Civil Law. That is why it is of utmost importance to review how religion as a concept can be integrated into the society of a secular republic such as that of the United States. Most laws have a Civil nature to them exempting religious entities from having to be confined solely to them when there’s ample evidence that it runs counter to the core tenants of the faith. There are few lasting examples of any attempt by the Government to forcefully change the tenants of faith and most laws that run counter to any particular religion or evoke any attempt at the standardization of religion are usually overturned in short order by any number of methods.
There are plenty of examples of Civil equalities that religions have chosen to ignore for any number of reasons. The equal rights of women are some of the most obvious ones as many religions exempt women from holding positions of power or participation in certain aspects of the religious rites. There’s nothing illegal about their gender discrimination on the face of the religious doctrine they adhere to and despite all of the granted equality of the suffrage movement many religious organizations operate quite capably in parallel with the Civil Law. Similar tenants allow religions to discriminate against marital status and specifically divorcees due to the nature of the Religious tenants speaking to the paradigm of marital status when marital status is a protected right in Civil Law, and so on. There are a very few examples where Civil Law precludes religions from evoking the full protections of their dogma, such as child endangerment and the like, when it runs substantially counter to the overall societal well-being.
Marriage and the Government
Some modern religions have taken to usurping the word marriage as solely a religious occurrence. This is utterly untrue. Historically, contracts between families resembling that of the modern incarnation of the Civil Marriage Contract administered by the State Governments of US States have always existed in some fashion. When most Governments had a religious component the line between the religious ceremony and the underlying civil rights could be blurred significantly, but since not all governments historically were achieved with an overt religious or even any religious affiliation there are plenty of examples to the contrary.
The foundation of most marriages, even those associated with religious ceremonies, isn’t that of religion at all. It had nearly everything to do with the transference of wealth between families. Typically the lesser spouse, historically mostly the woman but not always, was obviously a linchpin to the transaction, was considered a commodity, a piece of property to be bought and sold between families. Disputes that arose from such arrangements were not the responsibility of religions as much as they were of the civil leaders overseeing such contracts. Religious leaders simply sanctified such arrangements as being the will of God as a way to soften the sometimes difficult transitions that occurred with bethrothment and other arranged marriages.
Much of what makes up the terms of marriage has changed over the years and it was governments that had to react first to these ever changing ideas. What was representative of one religion might not be truly reflective of what was best of society at a given moment, particularly in multi-religous societies. In these ever changing set of social norms governments had to address the needs of its citizenry when dealing with the marriage contract, particularly when religions or religious beliefs might be conflicting on this matter. As religious law and secular law headed further in separate directions the inherent difference between the definitions of marriage became evermore apparent.
Religious marriage and Civil marriage are mutually exclusive and always have been in the US. It remains entirely possible even today to gain a civil marriage for the legal protections and rights without ever engaging in a religious ceremony to attain a spiritual sanction and no religion has ever been forced to accept a Civil Marriage. Conversely, it is also entirely possible to have a religious ceremony for the spiritual union without ever obtaining the Civil certification to take advantage of the rights and privileges associated to marriage in the eyes of the civil law. Similarly, it is entirely possible to have a dual marriage ceremony that includes the religions sacramental rite and the civil contractual joining that the ending of the marriage would vary. A civil divorce is only recognized by the granting government and no religion is required to recognize the separation so in the eyes of a religious entity the marriage would still stand. Likewise, it is entirely possible to be granted a religious annulment of the sacramental rite and never file for a civil divorce meaning the legal obligations still exist between the two parties even though there’s a spiritual separation.
To treat them as anything but mutually exclusive undermines the importance of both in modern American society. One needs not, as discussed earlier, ever have religion intervene in the State’s affairs, including that of the certification of the civil marriage contract and there’s no precedent of governmental intrusion into the religious rites of any recognized organization within the scope of their practice.
Religion and Marriage
The problem with the religion and marriage argument is no two religions treat marriage the same way. This really isn’t surprising, since inside each of the major theological systems are a myriad of splinter groups and differing factions all interpreting the same basic texts in different and oft-conflicting ways. Take Christianity for example. There are those who believe in Trinitarianism (one deity/three persons), Binitarianism (one deity/two persons), Unitarianism (one deity/one person), the Oneness Modalism belief, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ view. Inside of Trinitarianism you have the competing notions Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant, each with off-shoot interpretations further muddying what it means to be Christian. Of course, Christianity is heavily rooted in Judism which in itself has evolved, particularly in Western Culture as Orthodox, Conservative and Reform groups. The same types of divisions among believes can be found throughout nearly every organized system.
Since religious cannot even find wholly common ground is it that surprising then that their interpretation of their role in marriage and how to define it is also seeded in great debate. The Metropolitan Community Church, the United Church of Christ the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Episcopal Church of the United States, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church In America and Unitarian Universalists as well as the Quaker Religious Society of Friends, some Mennonite churches, the Church of the Brethren, the Church of Sweden, the Church of Scotland, United Church of Canada and the British Unitarian Churchs are among those Christian-based faiths that recognize and support marriage equality based on sexual identification. This is, of course, in contrast to the Roman Catholic Church, the Assemblies of God, Church of God in Christ, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, the Conservative Mennonite Conference, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Hutterite Brethren, the Orthodox Church in America, the Brethren in Christ, the Mennonite Church USA, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Pentecostal Church International and other Christian faiths who chose to interpret the Bible differently on this matter. Furthermore, the Jewish faith from which the scriptures usually used to undermine marriage equality based on sexual orientation also does not have a unified view of the interpretation of such passages or how to administer marriage on the whole with Union for Reform Judaism supporting inclusion and Jewish Reconstructionist Federation allowing individual Rabbi distinction, while some Conservatives respect the separation of Civil and Religious obligations and most Orthodox maintain a belief against such unions under any circumstance. Similar disparity can be traced throughout nearly all organized belief systems on how to interpret the role of faith in the union of marriage.
Attempts to define traditional marriage utopias through religion are fraught with problems. Many religious have since abandoned or significantly changed their approach to much of their early “law” regarding marriage including that of a man to many wives, a man to his sister or other close relative, a man’s ownership of his wife, the commencement of an annulment / divorce / marital separation, penalties for infidelities, age of parties entering the union, or even ability to provide consent of one or both parties (such as bethrothal) and so on.
Furthermore, some Christian organizations, such as the Catholic Church which was the cornerstone of western Christian faith before a series of reformations essentially ignored marriage until the 1560s and the Council of Trent when it became both socially and financially viable to become involved in marriage. Even within the sacramentification of marriage the Roman Catholic Church’s behavior in regards to the sacrament has changed over the years, from a strictly Catholic bond to one that includes acceptance and even allows the administration of certain inter-faith marriages. Similarly, the development of annulment law within the Church has changed overtime, creating greater circumstances by which the annulment of a marriage may be carried out, thus demonstrating the Church’s ability to adapt the sacramental rite to changing social norms.
As for homosexual bonds of unification, which the staunchly opposed by some modern Christian Organizations, have roots in Christian culture as “Office of Same-Sex Union” (10th and 11th century), and the “Order for Uniting Two Men” (11th and 12th century) documented by anthropologist Prof. John Boswell, while Christian sanctified same gender unions also took place in Ireland (12th and 13th century ) through the Church as noted by the chronicler Geraldus Cambrensis’ of Wales. At St. John Lateran in Rome (traditionally the Pope’s parish church) in 1578, as many as thirteen same-gender couples were joined during a high Mass and with the cooperation of the Vatican clergy according to records. Theodosian Code of 439 AD covers political, socioeconomic, cultural and religious subjects of the 4th and 5th century in the Roman Empire of which a portion drafted in 329 by the Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans prevented same-sex partnering that was common in the Empire previous to adoption of the law which eventually fell out of use.
The scope of unification between members of the same sex goes beyond Western Judeo-Christian practice. There are countless examples of it within the Chinese during the Ming and Zhou Dynasty, within the Mesopotamian Empire, the Romans particularly under Nero and Elagabalus, Assyrians, Hellenic Greece, and with some Native American rites interpreted as Two-Spirit-type relationships by anthropologist Brian Gilley.
As with the religious doctrine regarding marriage, that of Civil Marriage has undergone substantial evolutions over time because of changes in civil behavior. While early marriages according to anthropologists and economists have their roots in financial arrangements between families or individuals modern marriages are becoming more rooted in love and companionship which is aptly dubbed “hedonic marriage.” The transition can be traced to a relaxation of bethrothment and other arrangements which sought to provide political, social or economic stability to greater independence of the individuals involved to make decisions based on their own needs based on increasing rights and privileges in society as a whole available to them.
Marriage in the US
Administering Civil marriage is not an explicit right granted to the Federal Government and therefore marriages fell into the jurisdiction of the States. As with the historical definition of marriage, much of the contractual obligation between parties involved in marriage fell to the local government to resolve, thus much early marital law is Common Law in the US based on our judicial prescience system inherited from England. Because of the mutually exclusive nature of marriage of religion and Civil marriage most case law does little, if any, to reference religion or religious marital structure. If the parties which do dissolve the religious aspects of their marriage they needed to take it up with the officiating faith and only the underlying Civil contract was enforced by the courts.
In the US, most states took little interest in administrating marriage between dispute resolution until the 1800s when much like had happened in past societies it became financially and socially acceptable to participate in it. Jurisdictions saw the opportunity to 1) standardize and codify the civil definition of marriage streamlining judicial decisions into regulatory laws and 2) promote a revenue stream associated with marriage through the licensing of such an act. The implication of the licensing had little to do with religion apart from the usual pandering by politicians to a particular segment of their bases in a protectionist tone in order to validate the taxation of marriage by the State.
The vast majority of laws regarding marriage have to do with how the union affects personal possessions and wealth as well as the decision making abilities of spouses. The Federal Government’s role in marriage stems from such elements and includes about 1138 rights and responsibilities according to Government Accountability Office that are unique to married couples that are otherwise not available or applicable to unwedded individuals. Nothing at any level of codified marriage law has anything to do with religion or the religious implication of marriage. It solely rests at a Federal level on Social Security benefits, veterans’ benefits, health insurance, Medicaid, hospital visitation, estate taxes, retirement savings, pensions, family leave, and immigration law and at a State level varying rights regarding many of the above as well as child support and custody, spousal alimony, division of property and assets, domestic violence protections, inheritance, health care decisions, power of attorney and joint decision making, etc. many of which cannot be enforced with the same level of protection through private contracts and agreements, domestic partnerships, common law unions or civil union laws when not specifically termed as a marriage.
Local and State laws banning interracial marriage date as far back as the 1660s in the pre-Revolutionary Colonies. These laws were gradually repealed between 1948 and 1967 with The U.S. Supreme Court declaring all such laws unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia in 1967 overturning its own decisions regarding interracial marriage and the “Racial Integrity Act of 1924.” The decision solidified that, Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” and protected by the preamble of the Constitution. Although the decision specifically spoke to white interracial marriage laws it has been used a precedent in a number of marriage related cases at levels of the judiciary. Laws regarding the equality of the parties involved in the marital contract have also been shaped by judicial decisions. This mostly has fallen in the realm of divorces where the division of property and the awarding of custodial rights has been deemed repressive or Unconstutional in nature. For the most part these are women’s rights issues in the pre-same-sex marriage presidents.
The notion of marriage equality based on sexual orientation is divisive in modern politics but wasn’t always a Civil Law dilemma. Although records of same-sex marriage licenses being issued are spotty at best, the first national case involving the rejection of such an application wasn’t until the 1970s when Jack Baker and Michael McConnell applied in Minnesota. during the 19th century, there was recognition of the relationship of two women making a long-term commitment to each other and cohabitating, referred to at the time as a Boston marriage. Still, the language regarding the definition of marriage didn’t significantly change to preclude sexual orientation until the 1990s when a raft of State Legislatures began writing laws specifically defining marriage as between one man as one woman. Prior to 1996, the federal government did not define marriage; any marriage recognized by a state was recognized by the federal government, but the passing of the Defense of Marriage Act unified the Federal definition of marriage.
States, however, do not all agree on how to define the legal union between people and never have. The age of consent for sexual relations varies which affects in some, but not all cases, the age of ability to consent to the marriage contract. The variance is age of consent 16 (30): Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio,Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia; age of consent 17 (9): Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Wyoming; age of consent 18 (12): Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. The Federal age for defining a minor in most Statutes is under 18. The biological difference between the two individuals also varies greatly between states. First-cousin marriage is legal in 19 states including Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia while it’s is banned sometimes with exceptions in 26 including Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, West Virgina and relations between two first-cousins are outright illegal altogether in 5: Texas, Oklahoma, the Dakotas and Nevada. Other differences may include waiting period before the ceremony can take place, including Twenty states require couples to wait a few days after applying for a marriage license before they receive the license: 1-day Waiting Period: Illinois, New York, South Carolina, Delaware. 2-day Waiting Period: Maryland. 3-day Waiting Period: Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington. 4-day Waiting Period: Delaware if both of you are nonresidents. 5-day Waiting Period:District of Columbia, Minnesota. 6-day Waiting Period: Wisconsin, etc. ; the number of witnesses to the marriage itself, the verification of identity and proof of no previously existing contracts to preclude marriage requirements and even in a few states the time of consummation of marriage (upon witness signatory of the contract, upon the conclusion of the ceremony, upon the completion of sexual relations, etc.)
It is no surprise than that there is such disparity in what constitutes marriage in terms of sexual orientation. The wide swath of definitions of marriage affect not only those who are undergoing such a union in the jurisdiction but how the union will be interpreted as the marriage contract itself then changes jurisdiction. What is granted as a legal entity in one State could be deemed inexistent in another, thus stripping the previously granted rights and responsibilities away from everyone affected by the contract, including children and individuals in an estate to name a few. Furthermore, it affects legal immigration for migrants coming from jurisdictions in which they were married which the contact may not be recognized. The vast complexity these extraordinarily differing laws that range from simple statutes to State Constitutional amends to judicial decisions creates a tiered system of what the right of marriage is. It’s no wonder there are a number of cases pending in the Federal Court system attempting to create some standardization to the process of defining the marital contract equitably.
Religion and US Civil Marriage Law
Regardless to what a State determines as its definition of marriage, religion and religious belief should have NO bearing on Civil Law in the United States as discussed above. However, it has become a religiously charged argument where a certain segment of the population would like to dictate to all what defines marriage. One of the underlying arguments is that by allowing the Government to define Civil Marriage in a way that encompasses any two consenting, non-related adults is that it would somehow violate a religious belief that states that marriage should only be between opposite sexes. The problem with this rational, is that by defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman you are inherently infringing on the rights of religious entities that do not define marriage as such. The exact same Constitutional problem presents itself no matter how it is attempted to be worded when the religious idea comes into play because at any point any religion could claim the Government is favoring one religion’s belief over another, which inevidably always becomes a First Amendment issue. This is why, typically an attempt at religifying marriage at the Civil Level becomes problemsome, hence why opponents have sought other means by which to oppose it.
Rationale for Marriage
Why people get married has become the crux of the arguments for-and-against marriage equality, particularly on the basis today of sexual orientation.
For the Love or obligation?
The traditional, historical reason for marriage was out of legal obligation, mostly to form some kind of financial stability. The ability to provide the framework for a family was built out of the need for succession and the probability of the transference of wealth. The vast majority of historical references to marriage speak to the legal and financial framework with religions primarily layering moral obligation as a way to sanctify the social bond necessary for adhering to these contracts. The Roman Catholic church only began opposing some of these types of contracts in the 1500s and vocal opponents of arranged marriage throughout other religions and intellectual circles only began widening in the 1600s.
The notions of romantic marriage, where love and affection came to the forefront and the framework of the family was more about a desire to raise rather than an obligation to have children is a modern affair that began with poets and playwrights primarily of the romantic era. The acceptance of it as a valid reason for pursuing the union of marriage a generally accepted as a social idea in the US didn’t occur until into the 1800s when survey first began finding responses of individuals looking for “candor” in each other, “meaning fairness, kindliness, and good temper,” however women were still seeking “financial stability” as their primary motivation for marriage according to polls taken throughout the mid-1900s. As more women moved into the workforce and social norms continued to change allowing for financial inter-dependence between couples occurred the language used to describe the motivating factor as love became more popular. Today it among the top reasons for pursuing a long-term monogamous union regardless of the terminology attached to the contract.
Marriage and childbearing are entirely mutually exclusive.
Although a marriage may produce children it does not need to in order to still be valid. Only in historical marriage contracts that the guarantee of (male) offspring was a linchpin to the contracts validity are examples of this. The frequency of which this occurred probably wasn’t high although record keeping of these contracts would make it difficult to prove, but the notion a marriage has to include child bearing is not usually socially acceptable or legally enforceable in modern society. Plenty of marriages, in fact in modern and historical context, exist without the bearing of children. This may occur for any number of reasons, none of which invalidate the sanctity of what a marriage is between those people, or in the context of Civil Law and usually not in that of religious beliefs.
Likewise, a child may conceived and even be born out of wedlock. There’s no law of nature precluding this. There’s no longer Civil Laws precluding this. Some religions still chose to maintain this as an abomination even in modern society. Bearing children out of wedlock though claims mixed results. Single parent children can be held with a social stigma with may harm them and their parent, however, many have gone on to being successful in all walks of life. Typically, in modern society, it is as much of a choice to pursue childbearing out of wedlock as it would be an accident of some other experience including irresponsible intercourse, rape, the disillusion of the union pre-child birth, etc.
Marriage and the best family unit
Furthermore, what constitutes a family unit is constantly becoming more complex and the ability for children to be productive members of society does not require a biological mother and a biological father to be present in the child-rearing. Rather, fundamentally, the most important part of child-rearing is consistently proven to be a loving, nurturing family unit, regardless of what relation the child has to the care-giver.
Plenty of foster parents and adopted children can attest to this, as can children of single parents where one of the biological parents passed away or the parents divorced. Many children through history were brought up almost exclusively by other family members including grandparents, aunts and uncles, older cousins, etc. while endless examples of either hired help or communal dependence helped provide the framework for growth for children. Furthermore, it is quite possible and increasingly common for the biological parents to both participate in the childrearing outside of being wedded by the bonds of matrimony. There’s absolutely no proof the only advantageous situation for child upbringing comes from biological parents who are married. Contrary, studies and anticodotal stories often conflict on predicting the most successful way to raise children further proving the point that there’s no single best way either historically or in modern society.
No unified idea of marriage
Due to all of these reasons, there’s no single, convincing, comprehensive explanation as to why people get married either historically or in modern times. Different personal preferences, social responsibilities and moral attitudes have always defined how marriage is viewed and no single definition put forth will ever fully and equitably encompass everyone’s interpretation of the marital rite.
Other Non-sensical Arguments against LGB rights
The slippery slope
Same Sex marriage equality will not somehow fundamentally change marriage just as every other form of marriage equality has not in the past. What fundamentally changed marriage were the cultural norms allowing the acceptance of infidelity and the deteriorate of the vows with the proliferation of divorce, particularly the no-fault solution adopted by many jurisdictions.
It will not suddenly make polygamy legal again. Nor will it change the age of consent to allow pedophilia to be legal. Nor will it change the definition of consent to somehow allow animals to give consent leading to bestiality or inanimate objects to give consent leading to marrying one’s toaster or a person to marry against their will, thus bringing make bethrothment. No, none of those slippery slope arguments logically hold value when tested among the traditional legal standards for being able to enter into a contract.
The Choice argument
People don’t chose their sexual orientation. If you are straight, do you remember as a child choosing to be straight? Can you tell the story of the day you decided that you would be straight and only be attracted to the opposite sex? Chances are you can’t because chances are it didn’t happen like that. The same goes for bisexual, homosexual and asexual in how their sexual orientations are formed. They didn’t decide one day to follow that orientation as a child and many, if given the opportunity to try and repress such a biological desire will do so to conform with the social standard that stigmatized LGB orientations for generations. These individuals are typically unable to maintain a healthy existence while repressing their true self and in coming out and expressing their orientation are opening themselves up to the bigotry and hatred that certain segments of society will cast to them. Why would anyone chose to put themselves through that kind of life? Again, chances are you can’t rationally answer why because one doesn’t chose their orientation, it is a birthright.
Furthermore, science continues to investigate and disprove the notion that non-hetrosexual orientations are diseases. The ADA did away with homosexuality as a disorder over 40 years ago and plenty of research from all over the world spanning neurology to psychology explain how homosexuality is a normal function of human identity.
Reparity therapy ideas have been floated around for generations and one of the most prominent studies supposedly supporting the effectiveness of such efforts done by Dr. Robert L. Spitzer was continually plagued by problems in peer review and as recently as last week renounced by Dr. Spitzer as being inaccurate and grossly mis-interpreted by readers who sought to use it to support anti-gay means. A similar study by Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder “Changing Sexual Orientation: A Consumer’s Report” was peer-reviewed study of 150 respondents and provided much better scientific data. 88% of participants failed to achieve a sustained change in their sexual behavior and 3% reported changing their orientation to heterosexual. The remainder reported either losing all sexual drive or attempting to remain celibate, with no change in attraction. The study also attempted to follow longer term effects of reparative therapies including depression and suicides. Thus meaning, it is rare one can actively “change” their sexual orientation.
The nature argument
The number of species that display asexual as well as homosexual and/or bisexual behavior is astounding, particularly as you move into the more developed animals. Some create monogamous relationships within their sexual orientation, while others don’t. Regardless of the monogamy associated the orientation variance is prolific and documented both in the wild and in captivity, in social species and in species that typically shun social behavior and so on.
A short list of animals science can attribute non-hetrosexual tendencies to includes both wild and zoo kept: Black Swan (Cygnus atratus), Western Gull (Larus occidentalis), American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Penguins (Pygoscelis antarcticus, Spheniscus demersus, Spheniscus humboldti & Spheniscus magellanicus), Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae), many Pigeons (but in particular Columba livia), Dolphis (most sotalia, but also in particular Inia geoffrensis & Pontoporia blainvillei as well as many Tursiops, but also in particular Tursiops truncatus), American bison (Bison bison), Bonbo (Pan paniscus), Elephants (both Loxodonta and Elephas maximus), giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), lioness (Panthera leo), Sheep (Ovis aries), spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), Whiptail lizard (Teiidae genus), dragonflies (the order Odonata), Drosophila melanogaster, bed bugs (Cimex lectularius), and worms such as Acanthocephala among the over 1,500 species currently documented.
Scientist Petter Bockman, speculated, “No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue.”
Typiclaly, much of the behavior can be written off as “Every male that sniffed a female was reported as sex, while anal intercourse with orgasm between males was only “revolving around” dominance, competition or greetings” as described by Bruce Bagemihl, but it still doesn’t preclude the fact that regardless of the intention it is still a naturally occurring homosexual act.
The promiscuity argument
Promiscuous relationships occur universally. There’s no statistical evidence or other irefutable proof that LGB are more promiscuous than their straight counter-parts nor that their promiscuity historically has had any significant impact on the health and well-being of society.
Folklore would have that AIDS and a number of other sexually transmitted diseases are affirmations to this. It is the same ignorance that attributed AIDS and STDs to the African-American community in a bigoted way. Although the gay community was extremely hard hit by AIDS early on, it was neither started by gays nor only spread through their promiscuity alone and has since afflicted every sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion and other class of person one can attempt to pose.
Besides, STDs were being spread by promiscuous teenagers throughout the glory days “traditional values” of the 50s and 60s and abortions due to unwanted pregnancies were also becoming more and more common during that time. Prostitution, strip clubs, pornography and the like all catered to straight promiscuity in the mainstream and in the back alleys of society even without LGB influence. The divorce rate also inclined as infidelity became either more common or more easily exposed in straight couples.
Simply having a sexual orientation creates the foundation for promiscuity with no particular orientation being able to tout itself either as the leader of the sexual revolution or the bastion of fidelity and chastity.
Marriage Equality in the US
Knowing now everything above, is there really an argument left for precluding same sex couples from Civil Marriage?
My opinion is no. There isn’t a single viable argument for discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Personal preference against the LGB community even when veiled by religion is usually a form of fear that presents itself as bigotry. Maybe they’ve never known a LGB individual or experience an LGB couple