The Instigator
alexpr
Pro (for)
Losing
16 Points
The Contender
Husker
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points

Government should get out of the marriage business

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/1/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,049 times Debate No: 11296
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (8)

 

alexpr

Pro

Government should get out of the marriage business. If the government had nothing to do with marriage, we could drop all the divisive issues about gay marriage, and just let people marry in whichever churches or other institutions will marry them. Taxing all individuals the same is fairer too. On the other hand, marriage is a long-standing institution, and it would be chaotic to remove the legal element of it. Insurance policies, property title and other legal contracts would all need to be re-written.
Husker

Con

You say that government should stay out of marriage but then seem to take it back when you allude to the legal chaos it would cause.

The problem with giving marriage over to private institutions like churches is that some marriage-granting institutions would likely become regarded as more prestigious than others. People may technically all become more equal in the eyes of the law, but the institution of marriage would become vastly more unequal. One marriage-granting institution may come to be regarded as a prestigious one and it may happen to be an institution that forbids gay marriage or that considers all marriages outside of that particular faith as invalid.

If people were free to marry in their own institution, say the Catholic Church, then they may consider themselves more married than their counterparts. When someone introduced their wife or their husband, anyone of a strict evangelical faith would no doubt be thinking "they're not really as married as I am because I was married in a good Catholic Church while they were married by the Church of England."

This gets even worse when we talk about same sex marriage. If same sex marriage were legalised and formalised in the law, it would eventually gain the sort of unquestioned acceptance that women being given the vote now has. However take the state out of the equation and give this over to private institutions and gay marriage will NEVER be accepted, as all of its opponents will simply regard any marriage conducted by an institution they don't recognise as invalid.

Taking the government out of marriage would lead to marriage snobbery and generate more conflict than we already have.
Debate Round No. 1
alexpr

Pro

Those who oppose gay marriage believe deeply that marriage is sacreda divine, a blessed sacrament between man and woman as ordained in the Bible. If they are right, then the entire concept of marriage has no place in our civil society, which recognizes the separation between the sacred and the secular, between church and state.

The state is, of course, concerned with the secular rights and responsibilities that are currently associated with the sacrament of marriage: the financial consequences of divorce, the custody of children, Social Security and hospital benefits, etc.

The solution is to unlink the religious institution of marriage — as distinguished from the secular institution of civil union — from the state. Under this proposal, any couple could register for civil union, recognized by the state, with all its rights and responsibilities.
Husker

Con

Those that claim marriage as a religious institution are simply wrong. Marriage was around long before Christianity and is not a religious monopoly. Furthermore, you have to examine what marriage actually IS rather than how it is perceived by SOME people. The idea of marriage did not come from the Bible and a democracy caters to more religions than Christian ones. You say that unlinking marriage from the state would be the secular thing to do since we are supposed to have a separation of church and state, but in fact it would be the exact opposite. Since marriage is not a purely Biblical idea and is not a Christian monopoly, to unlink it from the state would be to kowtow to religious demands and to enact legislation on the basis of religious pressure in a supposedly secular country.

Furthermore if you took marriage away from the state it would entirely lose any definition that it has. Every different religious denomination and secular institution would define it differently. The Muslim marriage and the Mormon marriage and the gay marriage would all become defined as entirely different things. The Church of Scientology might end up being granted a licence to marry its members and who knows what twisted and perverse definition they might conjure up.

If you kept civil partnership as a state practice and people could go off and then essentially upgrade their partnership in a church, we would have the exact same problem we have now. Gay people would get their civil partnership from the state and would likely be unable to upgrade it to a full marriage since the major religions wouldn't grant them the 'marriage' upgrade. Then straight married couples would still be in a position to look down on same-sex unions as something less valid than their own union which has been 'ordained by God' in an anti-gay church. That is essentially a way of allowing the religious to keep the concept of marriage to themselves when it has never been a purely religious concept anyway.

Your idea would still bestow different levels of prestige onto different marriage-granting organisations, and thus different levels of validity onto different marriages. The notion that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality would survive and flourish instead of dying off naturally with the emergence of subsequent generations.
Debate Round No. 2
alexpr

Pro

Religious couples could then go to the church, synagogue, mosque or other sacred institution of their choice in order to be married. These religious institutions would have total decision-making authority over which marriages to recognize. Catholic churches would not recognize gay marriages. Orthodox Jewish synagogues would not recognize a marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew who did not wish to convert to Judaism. And those religious institutions that chose to recognize gay marriages could do so. It would be entirely a religious decision beyond the scope of the state.

Under this new arrangement, marriage would remain a sacrament, as ordained by the Bible and as interpreted by each individual church. No secular consequences would flow from marriage, only from civil union.

In this way, gay couples would win exactly the same rights as heterosexual couples in relationship to the state. They would still have to persuade individual churches of their point of view, but that is not the concern of the secular state.

Not only would this solution be good for gays and for those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds, it would also strengthen the wall of separation between church and state by placing a sacred institution entirely in the hands of the church while placing a secular institution under state control.
Husker

Con

But why must me redefine the institution of marriage in order for it to 'remain' a sacred religious sacrament? The institution of marriage predates recorded human history. It predates the Bible, the Koran, and all of the world's major religions. As long as there have been societies, there has been marriage. It was not invented by religion, it was not created as a religious sacrament, it certainly wasn't invented in the Bible. Both in its modern practice and its historical origins, marriage is not a solely religious thing.

This is what the wikipedia entry describes as reasons people have to get married: "People marry for many reasons, most often including one or more of the following: legal, social, emotional, economical, spiritual, and religious."

Religious reasons are in there, granted, but so are legal, social, emotional, economic and spiritual. Some people regard marriage with religious significance, many do not. Many atheists and non-religious agnostics get married. In fact many non-religious people even get married in church. I've never heard the religious lobby complaining in the past that 'their' institution of marriage was being devalued by atheists getting married, not so long as they were heterosexual.

A secular country is not supposed to show favouritism towards the religious. How then can you justify elevating the status of religious partnerships to 'marriage', while demoting the non-religious unions to 'civil partnership'? That is not a secular thing to do. Social status is one major reason for which people marry. It is clear that the social status of a 'marriage' will be more highly regarded than that of a 'civil partnership'.

Religion does not own marriage. Marriage is many things to many people, and the religious have no right to define what it is.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Husker 7 years ago
Husker
Why? The word marriage comes from the latin Maritas, a word that predates the Bible by hundreds of years. 'Marriage' basically means the exact same thing as 'civil partnership'. 'Marriage' is secular and always has been.
Posted by Rodriguez47 7 years ago
Rodriguez47
I Think they should butt out and let the churches or institutions decided whether or not.
Posted by Korashk 7 years ago
Korashk
I could be pro in a depate with the resolution of "Marriage in America as it is now should not be a legal institution."
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Korashk, Do you mean that it should be illegal for persons to enter into a marriage contract? Under current law, legal obligations are created implicitly on any joint venture, marriage or otherwise. For marriage, that is "common law marriage." What is the resolution you wish to defend?

The present debate was interesting, but didn't get very far into the topic.
Posted by Korashk 7 years ago
Korashk
If anyone wants to challenge me to a debate on this topic I'll accept if I'm allowed to take the side that is for getting rid of marriage as a legal institution.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Good topic! Both sides should talk more about contract law.
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by KacieMeredith 7 years ago
KacieMeredith
alexprHuskerTied
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Vote Placed by innomen 7 years ago
innomen
alexprHuskerTied
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Vote Placed by bongo 7 years ago
bongo
alexprHuskerTied
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Vote Placed by Rodriguez47 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by RoyLatham 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by kingofslash5 7 years ago
kingofslash5
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Vote Placed by Floid 7 years ago
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