Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 3

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

Though he deleted the post that this series is replying to, I am still running my series.

David lays out the following argument in favor of gay marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not unnatural. (answered)
  2. Neither homosexuality nor its acts have been proven inferior to heterosexuality or its acts. (answered)
  3. Marriage is a basic human right.
  4. Homosexual unions are unfairly not being given full and equal rights as heterosexual unions.
  5. Therefore, homosexual marriages with full and equal rights should be legalized and put into effect.

Now we tackle premise (3), which is (like its predecessors) demonstrably false.

David wants us to take the word of the UN Commission on Human Rights, the United States Supreme Court, and the United States Constitution that marriage is a basic human right.  As a basic human right, the state has no right to deny it to us nor to take it away from us.

And he is correct: the state hasn’t the ability to deny anyone a basic human right.  However, it does have the ability to regulate how the rights can be exercised to protect both us and its own interests.

Enter the secular case against gay marriage, given to us by Adam Kolasinski.  Kolasinski builds his case around the state’s interest to protect itself rather than any sort of metaphysical, philosophical, ethical, or moral grounds (as we’ve previously addressed).  The cornerstone of his case:

When a state recognizes a marriage, it bestows upon the couple certain benefits which are costly to both the state and other individuals. Collecting a deceased spouse’s social security, claiming an extra tax exemption for a spouse, and having the right to be covered under a spouse’s health insurance policy are just a few examples of the costly benefits associated with marriage. In a sense, a married couple receives a subsidy. Why? Because a marriage between two unrelated heterosexuals is likely to result in a family with children, and propagation of society is a compelling state interest. For this reason, states have, in varying degrees, restricted from marriage couples unlikely to produce children.

The article recognizes that it is impossible to police people who marry with either no intention of having children, are infertile, or too old to have children.  The state doesn’t have the monetary resources to prevent all of those marriages from taking place, so take place they do.  However, it is an absolute certainty that homosexual couples cannot produce children, so this is one form of childless marriage that the state can effectively police.

Now, what about all of those other privileges that same sex couples are denied?

[T]here is nothing stopping homosexuals from living in [committed] relationships today. Advocates of gay marriage claim gay couples need marriage in order to have hospital visitation and inheritance rights, but they can easily obtain these rights by writing a living will and having each partner designate the other as trustee and heir. There is nothing stopping gay couples from signing a joint lease or owning a house jointly, as many single straight people do with roommates. The only benefits of marriage from which homosexual couples are restricted are those that are costly to the state and society. (emphasis added)

And that is the secular case against gay marriage in a nutshell.  The state regulates the expression of other rights, too.  This doesn’t constitute a denial of rights, only the reasonable restriction of these rights.

The same Supreme Court that rules marriage a basic right also rules that “free speech” has its limitations — you can’t express hate speech, incite riots, nor yell “Fire!” in a crowded room.  After a certain infamous radio play in 1938, Congress enacted legislation that prevents fictional programming from taking the form of a news magazine or news broadcast in its entirety.  Freedom of the press, too, is curtailed by libel laws.  Freedom of assembly is only granted to people who show their faces during the assembly.

The right to bear arms is heavily regulated by registrations and handgun databases, and some states have a “cooling off period” before you can take possession of your newly purchased weapon.

I don’t believe marriage is a basic right at all.  I think it is a privilege, and an institution created by God for the continuance of humanity.  As such, we should follow God’s established rules for marriage, modeled by the first man and the first woman, and supplemented by books like Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs.

However, even if marriage is a right, then the state has every interest in placing reasonable restrictions on it.  And, as Kolasinski argued, living wills and last wills can override hospital policies on non-family visiting the terminally ill as well as circumventing established property inheritance laws.  The only things not open to same sex couples are the privileges of marriage that would cost the state more money than it would be worth for an institution that won’t produce new members of society.

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on September 8, 2011, in Apologetics, God, Heresy, Marriage, Morality, Religion, Sin and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. In response to the secular case against gay marriage, I don’t think it can be demonstrated that subsidies for married couples were passed in to law, for the purpose of increasing the birth rate. And the linked article does not do this. I’m happy to read legislative explanations showing otherwise. I cynically suspect the purpose was to buy votes.

    Also, it is an inefficient and indirect mechanism, which suggests it was not the purpose. My country, Australia, actually wanted to increase the birth rate, about 8 years ago. So they gave $5000 to the guardians of every newly acquired child (including adoption). This did increase the birth rate.

    Furthermore, assuming arguendo that those laws were passed for the purpose of increasing the birth rate, the financial cost of extending these subsidies to gay marraige (+5%?) needs to be weighed against the social benefit of a fairer and more equal society. I have no idea how to make this cost/benefit analysis.


    “The article recognizes that it is impossible to police people who marry with either no intention of having children, are infertile, or too old to have children. ”

    This is clearly false in the case of my marriage. Age is trivial to police. The celebrant took copies of our ID for her records. And checked that we were not currently married, and not closely related. It would take about 3 seconds to check my wife’s age, and cost $0. An example rule might be: females over 50 can’t marry, unless medical tests show no menopause.

    Also, ignoring the practicalities of checking these things, are you of the position that government-marriage should not be available to people with either no intention of having children, are infertile, or too old to have children?

    You have friends that are old or infertile. Would you tell them that you believe that they should not marry?

  1. Pingback: Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 3 « Josiah Concept Ministries

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