The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Is there any coherent argument against same-sex marriage? I don't see one!

There are a lot of comments I have seen by opponents of same-sex marriage in the light of the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision, and others that I had seen even before that, attacking the very idea of same-sex marriage, but none of these arguments makes very much sense. It is obviously the case that the people making the arguments against same-sex marriage are simply trying, lamely, to find ways that do not fall afoul of the First Amendment to say “my religion does not accept it; thus it's wrong.”

The most common, but stupidest, argument I have seen is “We are ‘redefining’ marriage, an institution that has remained unchanged for thousands of years.” First of all, I cannot accept that this is a “redefinition of marriage.” If we define marriage as “two persons who love each other agreeing to form a single household” (which to me seemns the fundamental purpose of a marriage), the definition has not changed. All that has changed is that the right to marry has been extended to couples that had not this right in the past. And as I have said in earlier posts, when the right to vote was extended to eighteen-year-olds, nobody considered this to be a “redefinition of voting”! So how can this be a “redefinition of marriage”?

In addition, marriage has been redefined in much more radical ways over the 200-plus-year history of this nation. In the 1700s, being married meant a woman gave up her right to own property, and in fact was considered the property of her husband. This has long since ceased to be the case; and I hope nobody wants to restore that “traditional” definition of marriage.

Some opponents of same-sex marriage make the point that “children who grow up with both their mother and their father in an intact family are most likely to develop into well-adjusted, productive citizens able to sustain and provide for themselves. In contrast, when marriages break down or disappear, economic troubles all too often surface.” But this is really totally irrelevant to the issue of same-sex marriage. A same-sex couple, to be sure, can only have children by adoption; it cannot create one. But the children that couple might adopt would have been given up for adoption in any case. The “family” into which they were born did not break up because the same-sex couple had married; it was broken in any case. And many anti-same-sex-marriage people (probably the overwhelming majority, in fact) are opposed to abortion and favor adoption as a solution. The only way one can reduce the number of children who do not “grow up with both their mother and their father in an intact family” would be to forbid giving up one's child for adoption. And I have not seen anyone favoring such a law.

But how about the argument that “children who have both a mother and a father are better adjusted than children in single-parent families”? This argument could only make sense if there were enough male-female married couples desiring to adopt to take care of all the adoptable children there are, and nobody, I think, believes this is the case. The alternative, for those children who were not adopted by a same-sex couple, is probably not to grow up in a family at all. And I am sure that children with two adoptive fathers or two adoptive mothers are still better off than children with no adoptive parents at all.

So what argument can an opponent of same-sex marriage make? I do not think there is any.

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