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Summer Mellon: Same Sex Marriage

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Anna Jones

on 2 September 2016

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Transcript of Summer Mellon: Same Sex Marriage

Some places in popular culture we hear the argument that it is all the same love. Love is love is love is...
With these thoughts in mind, let's examine the other view: Marriage is an intrinsic good, which due to its very nature, cannot be changed.


What do you think?
From Mass Media
to scholarly
Everyone seems to have an idea
of what is

and what is
We're all trying to follow
a moral compass.

But which direction should you follow?
There are two basic opposing viewpoints:
Marriage is a fundamental human right that ought to include same sex couples.
Marriage is an intrinsic good that cannot be changed due to the nature of marriage itself.
Let's examine the first opinion:
Marriage is a human right.
The argument goes like this: Attraction to the same sex is something that is part of a person's identity; it cannot be changed. The love of same sex couples is the same as the love of heterosexual couples. So why deny them the same rights?
We use the term "same" in an effort to denote equality.
However, simply calling something the same will not convince those who already do not believe two things to be the same.
Thus, the same love argument is not convincing for those who do not view same sex marriage to be the same as heterosexual marriage. While this argument is emotionally convicting, it does not present critical thought for those of other opinions to consider.

Another argument commonly heard is that same sex marriage should be allowed because it brings happiness to those who want it and does not affect those who are not involved with it.

Those who oppose same sex marriage often do so because they believe same sex marriage to be an impossible oxymoron due to the intrinsic nature of marriage.

Thus those arguing in support of same sex marriage would be better to argue for marriage being a social construct, such as Adele Mercier does in "On the Nature of Marriage."
The immediate happiness of those involved and lack of effect on those not involved is indeed self apparent.

However, the argument does not acknowledge that people who oppose this stance may argue for long term consequences that will accompany this change to the definition of marriage.
Thus instead of using the negative argument of harm to others, it would be better to instead argue for the positive benefits of same sex marriage, which would make it valuable for the government to sanction same sex marriage.

A common argument used to oppose same sex marriage is that the legalization of same sex marriage will then lead to the legalization of polygamy, incest, and bestiality.
As John Corvino argues in "Homosexuality and the PIB Argument" (509) Homosexuality is something that is itself intrinsic to those who identify as having same sex attraction; whereas, polygamy, incest, and bestiality are choices that can be made by a person, regardless of whether they identify as gay or straight.
If marriage is an intrinsic good that constructs a society as opposed to a social construct, it makes sense that once the lines that define it begin to be blurred, its entire nature is compromised.

Lee instead argues that, "In effect, it [same sex marriage] will send the message that marriage is centrally about the romantic attachment and sexual relationship of adults to (or among) each other rather than about a relationship which by its nature is oriented to and suited for becoming family." (p. 425)
Another argument commonly heard is that the legalization of same sex marriage will exacerbate the slide of our country away from its Christian roots into secularism.
According to Gallup, 75% of Americans identify as Christian.* However, our country was founded as a constitutional republic, not a theocracy explicitly held to the tenets of the Christian faith.
* http://www.gallup.com/poll/187955/percentage-christians-drifting-down-high.aspx
Thus instead of arguing that same sex marriage will increase the secularism of our country, it would be more beneficial to instead argue for the pre-political nature of marriage. As Girgis, George, and Anderson argue in "What is Marriage?":

"The demands of our common human nature have shaped (however imperfectly) all of our religious traditions to recognize this natural institution [marriage]." (247)

"Nature needs no social sanction for producing families. Marriage, and the right it confers to have one's family legally recognized as such, have always been social constructs."

If marriage is indeed a construct as Mercier argues, then it makes sense that such a construct can be adapted to fit cultural shifts.
Adele Mercier discusses benefits of legal same sex marriage such as more loving homes for children in need of adoption saying, "Marriage promotes love and enhances stability. Many a gay couple has love to give, and many an abandoned child would kill to have one, let alone two, dads." (Mercier p. 419)
Any adjustments to its definition would be contrary to its nature, and once adjustments start to be made, it seems like it would just become easier and easier to make more and increasingly extreme changes.

However, this argument fails to acknowledge the key differences between homosexuality and polygamy, incest, and bestiality.
Thus instead of claiming that same sex marriage will lead to legalized polygamy, incest, and/or bestiality, it would be better to argue along the lines of Patrick Lee in "Marriage, Procreation, and Same Sex Unions."

The argument is that marriage is in fact not inherently religious, nor a social construct, but rather inherently part of our human nature.
Whatever views we hold, attempting to understand where others stand will help us communicate our thoughts with clarity and respect.

Listening to others helps us not only think critically about our own views, but also come to a better understanding of why others hold the views they do

And this mutual understanding is the beginning of peace.
We've covered multiple arguments for the two most prominent views of same sex marriage:
marriage as a human right or marriage as a part of human nature.
Full transcript