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Meditation 149
On Same-Sex Marriage

by: JT

A discussion on this article has been opened in Debate and Discourse. Please feel free to add your thoughts to the discussion via the contact page. See also Meditation 189 and Reflection 21 for more on this issue.

I wrote in Meditation 146:

I'm not against polygamy in principle, as long as it is entered into by freely consenting adults who are aware of their options in life, and provided those adults accept full responsibility for all the costs and responsibilities of their chosen living arrangements.

I have the same view on same-sex marriage. And I really don't understand the problems so many others have on this issue. Allowing two men, or two women, or any combination you can imagine to willingly bind themselves in legal matrimony should have absolutely no impact on the majority who choose to enter into standard one man - one woman marriages. It takes nothing away from the majority to accept that the minority have equivalent rights.

And I have yet to find an argument against same-sex marriage that stands up under scrutiny.

Let's look at a few of the arguments:

It is against the teachings of my religion.

I'm not going to argue against the teachings of your religion. Legalizing same-sex marriage does not force any members of your religion into same-sex marriage. No members of your clergy will be required to officiate in same-sex marriages. But your religion applies only to followers of your religion. My own religion has no prohibition against it. And I encourage our clergy to perform same-sex marriages where legal.

But marriage is a religious sacrament, it always has been, so my church's opinion should govern who can marry.

Your church has every right to rule on who can marry in your church. As for everyone else, that is none of your church's business.

And marriage has not always been a religious sacrament. This is a comparatively recent innovation. The majority of marriages took place without church involvement up through the Middle Ages. Marriage traditionally, has been more about property rights than religion. And its civil implications have always outweighed the religious ones.

It is not natural.

This is the line used by those trying to avoid falling back on religion. A columnist in one of the papers I read used it yesterday. Her photograph accompanied the article. She had a permanent in her hair, she was wearing clothing, earrings, lipstick, and make-up. Is any of that natural? Just what is natural? Saying "It's not natural," is no more than code for "I don't like it, so it must be wrong."

In any event, all the evidence from the animal kingdom indicates that same sex relations occur in many animal species. So, it is quite natural.

They don't have the equipment for it.

This is the Jerry Falwell version of "It's not natural" when he makes his argument against same sex marriage. Perhaps gays and lesbians don't have the equipment for what Jerry Falwell considers appropriate in a relationship, but they certainly have the equipment to do what they want to do in a same sex relationship.

Marriage is for procreation.

This is wrong from every side of the question.

As someone born outside of a marriage, I can personally attest that marriage is not a necessary factor for procreation.

Also, many people get married with no intention of having children; they may even be incapable; yet that is not considered a bar to heterosexual marriage.

Further, many people in long term same-sex relationships find ways to have children using modern reproductive technology. So, using the "Marriage is for procreation" logic, these people should be allowed to formalize their relationships through marriage.

Marriage has traditionally been one man and one woman.

It is indeed strange how many Christians advance this argument. Apparently, they have not been reading their Old Testament.

Marriage has traditionally been one man and several women. Nearly every holy book reflects this. And this is one of the few holy truths that has been confirmed through science. Studies of human genetics show that our pool of female ancestors is more diverse than the male pool. We got our genes from more far women than men. This indicates that throughout most of the time humans have been on earth, the norm has been polygamous relationships. By all evidence, most traditional marriage has been polygamous, not one man and one woman.

Yet every indication is that males and females were born in roughly equal proportions. We have to wonder what the men who did not have access to women did for gratification. And also, as one man cannot truly fully satisfy several women, we wonder what they did for fulfillment.

There has never been such a thing as same sex marriage, so why change it?

There is a considerable body of documentary evidence that same-sex marriages took place throughout the Christian world in the past. Some of these marriages even received Church blessing. (Not all of course. As I wrote above, marriage as a sacrament was the exception rather than the rule.) Interestingly, the practice came to a halt about the same time priests were required to take vows of celibacy. Probably just a coincidence.

In summary, I know of no good reason why consenting adults should not be allowed to formalize their long term relationships, whatever combinations those relationships might involve.