At this point, I must admit a certain weariness in regards to the battle over same-sex marriage. It is not that I have lost my concern about fairness or equality. It is simply that at this point it feels like this matter should be settled and same sex marriage (or, more aptly, marriage of same sex couples) should be legal.
I think the reason that I have grown weary of the debate is that the arguments being presented against same sex marriage are seriously flawed and yet keep getting presented over and over. In short, I suspect I am exhausted because these arguments and claims are exhausted.
For example, during the recent hearing regarding Proposition 8, the tired old claim that “responsible procreation is really at the heart of society’s interest in regulating marriage” was brought out to defend that proposition.
Same sex marriage is typically criticized on two grounds in regards to responsible procreation. The first is that same sex couples cannot procreate naturally. The second is that it is often claimed that same sex couples will be bad parents (for example, it was claimed without evidence that homosexuals are twelve times more likely to molest children) and hence be irresponsible in regards to procreation.
Suppose that these two principles are correct: 1) marriage is to be denied to those who do not procreate and 2) people who are not responsible in procreation are to be denied marriage.
The first principle would entail that straight couples who do not want children or cannot have them must be denied marriage. It would also imply that couples who use artificial means to reproduce (such as in vitro or a surrogate) must be denied marriage. Implementing this would involve requiring that a couple already has a (natural) child before they would be worthy of marriage. Or perhaps there could be sort of a learner’s permit for marriage and the actual license would be granted when the first child is born. This is, obviously enough, absurd.
The second principle would entail that straight couples who are not responsible parents must be denied marriage. This would require that the state monitor all marriages to determine that the parents are responsible and be empowered to revoke marriage licenses (much like the state can revoke a driver’s license for driving violations).
While I do think that irresponsible people should not have children, it seems absurd to deny such people the right to marry. After all, not allowing them to marry (or dissolving the marriage when they proved irresponsible) would hardly make such people more responsible or benefit the children.
In light of these arguments, the procreation argument against same sex marriage is clearly absurd.
If anyone has good arguments against same sex marriage, please post them as replies. As a philosopher, I am open to the possibility that there are such arguments. In fact, there might be compelling arguments against same sex marriage. I would, of course, like to see those.