Generally speaking I don’t intend to write on politics very often on this blog, but there has been a great deal of chatter out there since New York legalized gay marriage earlier this week. I believe that same-sex marriage is something that just needs to happen if we as a society truly want equality under the law. I understand that many people have religious/moral objections to gay marriage and wish to see it remain illegal.
There is one question in particular that is often brought to the table and is used both as an argument against and for gay marriage. I feel both sides make a flawed argument with this question, and for the sake of logic I wish to point this out and how to make a better argument for the side I support. The question is “Does gay marriage threaten the sanctity of marriage?”
Social conservatives argue that by legalizing gay marriage the institution of marriage is somehow disparaged because the union of two people of the same sex (according to most who oppose gay marriage) is an abomination in the eyes God. Social conservatives point to holy texts such as the Bible to prove their argument. While proponents of gay marriage argue that marriage these days isn’t really as holy as many social conservatives would like to believe. Approximately 50% of all marriages don’t last, people cheat with just about the same frequency of divorce, and pre-marital sex is generally condoned in American society.
Both sides are missing the boat. Our nation has lived by the excellent concept of separation of church and state. The argument of whether or not same-sex marriage threatens the sanctity of marriage is really an irrelevant red herring. Our laws are not supposed to enforce the moral beliefs of any particular religion. The sanctity of marriage does not lie in the contract governed by state and federal laws, but in religious beliefs and rites. Extending marriage to all groups of people gay or straight under the law does not mandate the holiness of that union nor a particular religion’s right to exclude the weddings of those individuals they deem unfit for marriage within their holy sites (churches, temples, mosques, etc.) or officiated by their religious leaders. Denying two men, or two women, the right of marriage under the law is not done in the interest of protecting society, but in the interest of forcing one group’s religious beliefs onto others.
The legislation of morality has been met by many failures (such as prohibition), including some failures we continue to try to enforce today. In many cases legislating morality works because it protects society…we can all agree that murder, rape, and theft cause pain, terror, and damage to individuals and society as a whole. But these crimes which are typically seen as immoral were not put into law simply because they were immoral, but because they threatened the peace and prosperity of individuals and the nation by extension. The danger to legislating morality for things such as gay marriage, which truly affect only those who partake, is that we turn our backs on the basic guiding principles of our nation…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
And now for a cute cat picture...