The Instigator
Khana
Pro (for)
Winning
8 Points
The Contender
thejakeisalie
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Birth sex should not be a factor in legal contracts

Do you like this debate?NoYes+2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Khana
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/9/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,690 times Debate No: 24191
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

Khana

Pro

Ultimately, I mean to discuss the ethics of same sex marriage, but I wish to examine the root issue. Essentially, I feel that it is unethical to change someone's legal rights according to what biological sex they were determined to be at the time of birth. And to me, that is what the issue of same sex marriage boils down to.

I'd like to also note that this is my first ever attempt to debate here :) I'm not asking for my opponent to go easy on me... in fact, I'd love to get trounced! Best way to learn. Also, I'd be fascinated to see a great argument against me. But, nonetheless, I'd like to ask for understanding and acceptance in advance for any errors of form I might make. I've read a number of debates, so I think I've got it, and I suppose we'll see if I'm right :)

So, here's my proposed breakdown of rounds:

Round 1. Acceptance, definition(s) (if necessary), and brief summary position.
Round 2. Primary points / questions
Round 3. Rebuttal / answers
Round 4. Counter-rebuttal (? If that's the right term? You get the idea, though :P) and conclusion

Thank you for whoever takes up my challenge! :D
thejakeisalie

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for this opportunity to debate an interesting (and controversial) topic. This is also my second debate on this site, so hopefully we will be able to learn together. I will be debating that birth sex should be a factor in legal contracts.

Birth sex and gender are difficult concepts, and have been struggled with throughout the years. The World Health Organisation's definition is this: ""Sex" refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women, "Gender" refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women." [1] As set by Pro, we will only be discussing matters of 'sex' within this is debate, that is, purely biological characteristics. However, this does not make our definition any easier.

If one wishes to refer to the reproductive organs of a person, then a 'man' would be any person possessing testicles and a penis, and a 'woman' any person posessing a womb and ovaries. There are exceptions to this though - hermaphrodites are individuals 'having the reproductive organs and many of the secondary sex characteristics of both sexes.' [2] Definition by what chromosomes an individual has is no easier - many individuals are born with XXX, XXY, and other variations on the normal XX/XY pattern. These individuals are difficult to classify, and for simplicity, I believe it would be easiest for the sake of the debate to define this entire group (although I do not deny that there is significant variation within it) as 'trans-sex individuals'. I invite Pro to redefine this if she sees fit.

Finally, a definition of 'legal contract' is also required. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines 'contract' as: "1)a: a binding agreement between two or more persons or parties; especially : one legally enforceable, b : a business arrangement for the supply of goods or services at a fixed price, c : the act of marriage or an agreement to marry, 2) a document describing the terms of a contract" [3] We will therefore be debating any legally binding agreement between two persons or parties, whether that be of marriage, business, or otherwise.

Once again, thanks to my opponent, and I wish her the best of luck!

[1] http://www.who.int...
[2] http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com...
[3] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Khana

Pro

As you yourself have referenced, "sex" is not an easily definable concept. While the extremes are the most densely populated, it is nonetheless a fairly smooth spectrum of possibilities. There is no easy line to draw for who is one sex and who is another. The designation is fairly arbitrary, and should not be used as a limiting factor in legal rights.

As mentioned, the primary point is to examine the root issue of the legality of same sex marriage, and how the root issue applies to legal contracts in general.

There are certain types of contracts that are dependant on physical characteristics. For instance, in a medical study on obesity, only the obese qualify. However, this type of situation is dramatically different. Primarily, these limitations are not government imposed. If an individual/group requires other(s) of certain characteristics, and this arrangement is observed to not be unfair discrimination based on sex, race, etc, according to the various protected class acts [1], then such an arrangement is considered legal and fair.

It is only when the government acts to prevent an entire category of legal arrangements on the basis of a protected class, regardless of the desires of the individuals involved, that I protest.

So let's consider a case analysis, of sorts.

Consider Sally. She is a stereotypical, entirely genetically average example of biologically female, 25 years old. She's considering options of marriage. All persons are equal barring sex contrasts.

First, here's Bob. He is a stereotypical, entirely average biological male, also 25. He is legally permitted to engage in any type of legal contract with Sally. His and her reproductive capability are entirely irrelevant. Additionally, he can engage in this contract for absolutely any reason that he and Sally choose, including convenience, tax purposes, or even on a whim, just for fun. Love and interest in procreation are entirely irrelevant to the legal discussion, regardless of how it would be viewed socially.

Next, let's take Sandra. She, like Sally, is also entirely female by every measure. However, assuming we're in North Carolina (or similar places :P), she is suddenly forbidden by the government to engage in this particular contract, regardless of her or Sally's wishes. This limitation cannot be repealed or revoked for any reason - because of her sex at birth, she is given no options.

Now, let's examine a really weird example. Identical twins! And amazingly, they're both perfect hermaphrodites! On recommendation, the parents have the newborns surgically altered, to be male and female.

Samantha and Samuel, genetically identical, both manage to gain an interest in marrying Sally! (Man, she must be a looker :P ) Now, despite all other things being equal... literally... Sam is legally permitted to marry Sally, but not Samantha. Simply because of the sex assignments given to them by their parents, without their consent, at the time of their birth.

Only a very few laws for this particular legal contract relate to procreation and the raising of children. Such laws usually relate, not to the legal institution of marriage, but to the biological act of impregnation. Most laws regarding marriage involve such things as tax benefits, visitation rights, what amounts to an automatic power of attorney, and so forth. And again, it can be entered into for virtually any reasons desired, with extremely few limits [2]

It is reasonable to conclude that any case where the government removes or reduces rights based on any of the protected classes is unethical and in violation of the associated acts, and it seems clear from the above that this is such a situation.

My points made, I have some questions:

1. Do you feel that the protected classes assorted acts are designed to prevent government interference in the legal contracts between individuals, in addition to the primary stated purpose, which is to limit individual bias in the arrangement of legal contracts? If so, why would that not apply in the case of marriage? If not, does that mean the government is permitted to acts of blatant bias, such as forbidding interracial marriage?

2. Are there any other types of legal contracts that are government mandated to include restrictions of protected classes?

3. Does marriage have any legal considerations that require discrimination based on a determination of sex at the time of birth?

While I'm a romantic at heart, I'm very much enjoying this angle. :) I look forward to your primary argument, and the subsequent rebuttals!

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org... for an overview, and for specifics on the various acts, http://www.congresslink.org..., http://finduslaw.com..., http://www.gpo.gov...

[2] http://usmarriagelaws.com...
thejakeisalie

Con

There are many responses I have to Pro's primary argument, but I will save the majority of them for the next round. However, I would like to emphasise that the debate topic Pro proposed was 'Birth sex should not be a factor in legal contracts'. She chose to propose this, rather than 'Birth sex should not be a factor in marriage contracts', and therefore it is the point I will argue.

Men and women have many biological differences. Men, for instance, are unable to become pregnant, do not have ovaries, and are therefore unable to ovulate. Meanwhile, women are unable to inseminate, or, if future medical technology allows for the fertilization of an egg with another egg, father a boy. They are, on average, shorter by 11cm [1], have levels of testosterone on average 14 times lower than men [2], and have a normal body fat percentage of 25% as compared to 15% for men. [3] All these things mean that the average woman is incapable of doing many of the things that the average man can, primarily those related to strength - heavy lifting, opening particularly stiff jam jars, replacing said jam jars on the top shelf of the cupboard.

All these things said, I believe that in many cases, a legal contract made between two parties, one of whom is a woman, would be inappropriate to also make with a man, and vice versa. A legal contract outlines the rights and responsibilities of each party, and if one of those parties is unable to for-fill the responsibilities in the contract because of their gender, that is an unfair contract for that party.

Take the case of a recent change to law in the European Union with regards to insurance policy. It was recently decided by the European Court of Justice that gender may not be used as a factor when calculating insurance premiums. [4] Previously, car insurance costs for young men were far higher than those for young women, and with good reason - men are 70% more likely to be killed in a serious car accident, with 29,722 male drivers being involved in fatal car accidents, and only 12,747 female drivers. [5] It is therefore common sense for insurance companies to charge young men, such as myself, a higher insurance premium, as they are a much higher risk for the company, in the same way experienced drivers should be charged lower amounts than new drivers. But because it has been decided that gender is no longer allowed to be factored into this particular kind of legal contract, we have an absurd situation where men - who generally do 60-65% more driving than women [5] - are paying the same as women. It is generally thought that 'sex equality' is something that benefits women, but in this case, it actually benefits men - women are being made to pay for their risk, because sex is not allowed to be a factor.

All this being said, I would like to come to the topic of marriage. This is currently a very heated topic for debate in the United States, and the main reason for this is that marriage has separate parts - it is both a legal contract and a religious institution. Here in the United Kingdom, where I am from, same-sex marriage is still illegal, but same-sex couples may enter into a civil union, which has all the legal consequences of marriage. [6] While the contract for a civil partnership and a marriage may be very similar, it is different in some ways, because of the gender of the persons involved. As marriage is a religious institution, laws made with regards to same-sex marriage may have consequence on churches. In the Qur'an and the Bible, homosexuality is described as a sin - including in the new testament. [7] It would be unfair to force churches and mosques to marry those that they believe are living in sin, regardless of the accuracy of views.

Finally, some questions:

1. If all legal contracts should not be defined by gender in any way, do you believe that, when a stripper is ordered for a stag/hen party, there should be an equal likelihood of a man or a woman turning up? Should specification of gender be illegal in the verbal, but still legal, contract?

2. Should the father and the mother of a newborn get equal paid time off work, assuming they work in the same job in the same place?

3. When a man and a woman are walking together towards a heavy, closed door, should one of them open it and hold it for the other? If so, which one?

I look forward to your rebuttals :)

[1] http://www.wolframalpha.com... and http://www.wolframalpha.com...

[2] http://www.nlm.nih.gov...

[3] http://www.medicinenet.com...

[4] http://www.guardian.co.uk...

[5] http://www.car-accidents.com...

[6] http://www.direct.gov.uk...

[7] Qur'an - 26:165-167, Bible - Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:27
Debate Round No. 2
Khana

Pro

Thank you for your response :)

While the stated topic was, "Birth sex should not be a factor in legal contracts," it was clarified in R1 to be about the root issues behind same sex marriage, and the change in legal rights accordingly. The topic, limited by character count, was by necessity somewhat vague, however, I expanded that with the statement, "Essentially, I feel that it is unethical to change someone's legal rights according to what biological sex they were determined to be at the time of birth." Considering that this made very clear in the proposal argument, I say it is fair that this be used as the actual basis of the debate.

As stated in R2, I have no objection to the abilities of individuals or groups to selectively engage in legal contracts. Contracts which can have limits according to specific individuals, or classes of individuals, as long as such limitations are regulated by the government to ensure no discrimination. The stated issue is the right of the government to change the legal rights of individuals based on their birth sex.

Answers:

1. I do believe it should be legal for someone to specify what sexual characteristics are required, in certain, limited types of contracts. For instance, specifying a female stripper is entirely reasonable. I do not, however, feel that the government should be able to say that a male, for instance, cannot legally become a stripper. And to forestall a potential rebuttal, semantics are beside the point. If you define a job as "male only," then of course, by definition, a female cannot partake of that role. However, the job itself should be legally available to anyone who can meet that job's requirements.

2. Yes. However, in the instance of childbirth, the mother tends to have significant physical impairments that the father does not. In instances of actual childbirth, I feel the woman should receive additional time off - what amounts to a specialty sick leave. However, beyond this additional leave, which would not apply in cases of adoption, I feel that men and women should both receive equal leave. And in fact, here in Canada, it is just so :D (Yes, I'm a Canadian debating US politics. Sue me :P) As it happens, I also feel that maternity/paternity leave should be guaranteed by the government, barring unusual circumstances, but anyway.

3. The answer is, it's irrelevant. I know, it looks like a cop-out, but the thing is, the purpose of this debate is to dig into government interference with rights. They "should" do as their morals and/or society and/or the local, relevant laws suggest that they do. The government, however, should not mandate that males open doors for females.

There are 3 types of "marriage" in the united states: 1. It is a specifically religious institution, with massive religious connections. 2. It is a public declaration of love and invitation for family, that has absolutely no religious connotations whatsoever (such as when atheists marry). 3. It is a legal contract that provides certain benefits, the majority of which are entirely unrelated to procreation. To my knowledge, that's it for the types.

Religious organizations, I feel, should have the right to do as they please, as far as marriage goes. Part of freedom of religion allows for the freedom for religious discrimination, even on the protected classes. The government should not mandate who they must or must not marry, and in fact, should be utterly uninvolved (with few exceptions, like child abuse). The second type should also not be interfered with by the government. It is a social construct. The third, however, is a legal contract granting legal benefits.

If in your nation, civil unions grant precisely equal legal rights, then great! That's all that's needed. Take a job where sex is part of the description – there's a male waiter and a female waitress. Can a male be a waitress? No, but there's a precise, and perfect match, with precisely equal pay/duties/etc. That's fine. If "marriage" is the term for male/female unions, and "civil union" is the term for same sex unions, but they are in every other regard precisely equal, then there's no issue. (I still don't like it, but it's a tolerable solution)

However, if one grants less rights, as is the case in the USA, then there is a problem. Civil unions are not the equal of government marriages (religious marriages are entirely irrelevant, unless you argue that atheists should also receive inferior treatment)

Ultimately, I feel the government has the right to do 2 things: it can tell people that they may involve sex in a specific agreement, and it can tell them they may not. I feel that it absolutely may not, under any circumstances, mandate that they involve sex in a legal arrangement. To more fully expand the topic, I feel that birth sex (a designation that is both medically changeable and in many cases arbitrary) should not be a government mandated factor in legal contracts.

Enjoying this debate so far :D
thejakeisalie

Con

thejakeisalie forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Khana

Pro

Not sure how this is supposed to work, or if you can post again after this, but...

Well, if it's forfeited, then I win. Else, we can basically just skip and round and do it that way? I guess we'll see how this goes.
thejakeisalie

Con

thejakeisalie forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ron-Paul 4 years ago
Ron-Paul
KhanathejakeisalieTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FFs.
Vote Placed by phantom 4 years ago
phantom
KhanathejakeisalieTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: double forfeit.