Currently same sex marriage is legal in Washington, D.C., thus once again bringing up the topic. I’ve written on this subject before, but I think it is worth writing about again.
While my own marriage ended in divorce and cost me half my stuff, I can (almost) understand why people would want to get married. After all, there are some financial and social benefits to doing so. In the case of same sex marriage, there is also the matter of it being seen as a victory for tolerance and a mark of social acceptance. In any case, there are folks who are very much for same sex marriage.
My view, which I have held consistently, is that same sex marriage should be legal. My main reason in based on the notion of the right of adults to enter into legal contracts. As I see it, the legal aspects of marriage (such as joint property, insurance coverage, and so on) are merely legal agreements that hold between adults and the sex of the individuals seems to be irrelevant. For example, a person should be able to designate the one person who can be on his/her insurance in what is now considered the spouse “slot.” The fact that the person holding the policy would have to pay the premiums would tend to help keep misuses down and, of course, married people would tend to use that “slot” for their spouses. As another example, if a person wants to form a joint ownership agreement and set rules for property division after a end to the contract, then that is easy enough to handle. People engage in business contracts with people who are of their same sex all the time.
Marriage, in a way, merely is a combo meal of legal rights and contracts. There seems to be no compelling reason to deny such contracts individually on the basis of sex and hence there seems to be no compelling reason to deny same sex couples the same opportunities to enter into such contracts (and, of course, end them in legal battles).
Of course, folks argue that marriage is not just a legal contract. Folks talk about sacred bonds and other such unicorn horns. They contend that same sex marriage violates the sanctity of marriage and hence must be opposed on either moral or religious grounds or both.
My stock reply to this has also been consistent. First, if same sex marriage is to be denied on moral grounds, then the same sort of standard must be applied across the board. That is, all immoral people must be denied the right to marry. Failure to use this standard consistently would, of course, unfairly single out same sex couples and this would be unjust. Second, while the state does have a stake in the legal aspects of marriage (law is, after all, the domain of the state) it does not have a legitimate interest in merely ethical and merely theological disputes. Third, if God didn’t want same sex marriage, He could either prevent them from taking place or just smite those who dare to do so. Since God does nothing, it seems safe to conclude that He is not overly concerned with the matter. The divorce rate does, however, suggest that God is not too keen on straight marriage.
Of course, the state does have a stake in ethics when the matter involves the potential for great social ills. It has been argued that same sex marriage will damage the social fabric, harm children and so on. This is, obviously enough, a factual issue. At this point, the objective evidence seems to be that allowing same sex marriage will, at most, simply make people who are against it angry and sad. This, however, is not enough harm to warrant the banning of same sex marriage.
My final, sarcastic view is that folks who are against homosexuality should be for same sex marriage. Up until I fell and tore my quadriceps tendon apart, the worst experience of my life was going through a divorce. Since pushing people off roofs is illegal, folks who hate homosexuals should be all for their getting married. True, some might end up happily married, but most will end up miserably divorced.