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It is more economically rational to deny same-sex couples marriage status than not.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/7/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 610 times Debate No: 73039
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
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Same-sex couples do not have the same legal standing as truly married couples.

When judges attempt to issue marriage licenses and statuses to same-sex couples, it creates a social fissure (crack) and disrupts businesses whose owners cannot, in good faith, celebrate same-sex "weddings." Actually, these business owners know that the celebrations or public ceremonies are not real marriages, to begin with. Thus, they would be calling or endorsing something as "marriage" which is not a real marriage. They know this is true yet they do not want to offend others in their religious views. Generally, they recommend other businesses which might not have qualms about catering to such ceremonies.

But disrupting (and possibly bankrupting) a business based on the religious beliefs of its owners is not more rational than allowing any two parties who come before a justice of the peace claiming "love is love." 1

The second reason that it is more economically rational to not recognize same-sex unions on equal terms with married couples is that it violates the principle of Political Liberalism.

The political liberalism argument against SSM is that an effective society with multiple ethnicities and religious viewpoints cannot silence those who have a long-standing faith tradition in its toleration of "free speech." Obviously, free speech allows a business to not serve a customer with whom it disagrees in important, faith-based respects. So, if we are to allow "free speech" and concomitantly "free conscience" (a necessary corollary of free speech), then we will not recognize "same-sex couples" except in a separate category besides marriage.

The recent episode of the "Good Wife" (CBS network) tries to belie these principles as inaccurate and pretends that if a business advertises that it provides a service, that it must provide that service to all parties. While the writers of the "Good Wife" TV program are, no doubt, well-intentioned, it does not follow that if a business advertises that it provides a service, that it will provide a slightly different service (same-sex wedding ceremony) in violation of its conscience. That's really the issue, not whether all parties who watch an advertisement must be served to their contentment by a particular business.

Therefore, to not undo the business fabric of society and to not violate the consciences of critical members of the business community, it is more economically rationally to deny same-sex couples the status of married members of society.

[1] Of course, if "love is love" then monogamy itself could validly be questioned. Why is not polygamy a valid way to express romantic or loving attachment? It becomes very disconcerting and confusing.


While I agree that your argument is a valid one in certain places, you are assuming in your first point that the customers of marriage organisers are by default opposed to gay marriage, and therefore these customers would be put off from using said marriage organiser. That assertion is wholly dependent on the individuals themselves and cannot therefore be used as a general argument that same-sex marriage should be denied for economic reasons. However while I agree in certain places same-sex marriages can be economically detrimental, that is the fault of those who fail to recognise them, as I shall explain later on in my argument.

Firstly, to refute your first point, same-sex marriages do have the same legal standing as heterosexual marriages. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defence of Marriage Act 1996 (DOMA), defining marriage as between "one man and one woman", was unconstitutional following Windsor vs United States. As a result, same-sex couples were granted tax benefits, immigration benefits, military benefits and federal employment benefits under federal law, all providing better economic stability for same-sex couples. Then in 2014 this was expanded to include medical leave benefits. In the 38 states where gay marriage is legal, the Social Security Administration and Veterans Affairs provide full benefits, and to the other 12 states they provide limited benefits.

An essential part of this argument is determining with whom Freedom of Speech applies in this situation. On the one hand you have the religious opponents of same-sex marriage, who argue it is against their religion and therefore shouldn't be allowed. On the other hand, there are the supporters of gay marriage, who argue that it should be a default freedom for anyone to marry anyone.

Now you argue that same-sex marriage violates political liberalism, however I would argue the exact opposite. Liberalism is an ideology which supports freedom of the individual, however one individual's freedom cannot infringe those of another. Therefore one group's beliefs cannot limit those of another when they come into conflict. As such, same-sex marriage must be permitted in a liberal society, and cannot be limited by religious belief and conservative attitudes. In fact, denying same-sex marriage under freedom of speech or freedom of expression is to say that the rights of religious people are more valuable than those of everyone else: once again, this is categorically against liberalism as an ideology. Therefore any religion which tries to limit the rights of those in society who are not part of it, is by default in direct contradiction of liberalism, and has no right to enforce its beliefs on those by whom it is not followed. As a safe-guard against this, the First Amendment even states that the government cannot adopt an official religion or church for the several states. This begs the question, does religion have a place in 21st century society? But that is a debate for another day. Therefore it is rational for a business to be disrupted or to go bankrupt for refusing services to homosexuals based on religious beliefs, as those religious beliefs are infringing upon the rights of other individuals who may not follow or believe in the owner's beliefs.

As for your point arguing that businesses have the right to provide a different service from the one advertised to people who violate the owner's conscience, that is simply not true. Under law, businesses must provide the services as advertised. If not, they will face charges of false advertising (at least), as happened last week in Ireland with a Christian baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The USA has the same laws on false advertising as the UK. What's more, to deny a customer service for being homosexual is an abridgement to the Fourteenth Amendment under the Equal Protection Clause (the same amendment which Brown vs. Board of Education found to protect against discrimination in schools).

So to conclude, it is not more economically rational to refuse same-sex couples marriage than not. Aside from being in violation of business laws, the marriage business owners are denying themselves a larger market for their services. Moreover, if I owned a marriage business, there's no way I wouldn't actively advertise that we put on same-sex marriages, because if other businesses are refusing to do them, the one that accepts will be making all the money in that area. However same-sex marriage really isn't an issue of economic rationality - it's an issue of basic rights. If anything, I feel that business owners who refuse to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies will lose business from outraged customers, as happened in January this year, when a wedding planner in Florida refused a lesbian couple a marriage ceremony, and has now almost been forced out of business due to no one wanting to use her. If the business owners want to refuse people their basic human rights of union regardless of gender, which is not only unconstitutional but also a violation of liberal ideology, then they should suffer the consequences. As I said a short while earlier, that is perfectly rational in economic terms in a liberal society.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to JoD for accepting the debate premise/topic.

So, I am proposing two arguments in favor of the proposition that it is more economically rational than not to deny same-sex couples the status of marriage.

The first argument has to with keeping a thriving and healthy business climate which does not unfairly favor one business over another. The second has to do with the tolerance of diversity entailed by political liberalism would not pit consumers against producers, else it is irrational.

The first argument is being misconstrued. I should clarify. It is not about whether a business owner's customers are for or against public ceremonies of same-sex marriages. They might be all be "for" or all be "against." It is irrelevant. What matters is whether the business proprietor can, in good faith or conscience, be an instrumental part of a public ceremony against their view of marriage. If they cannot in good faith perform such as act as catering, then it hinders the business activity in that particular community. How is the business hindered, though? Fines and even jail terms may be assessed upon business owners who conscientiously refuse to violate their faith tradition and cater to or support a public same-sex wedding ceremony. Can the state even do that? Yes, it can and it has. In fact, in some cases, the state may order a business's employees to undergo sensitivity training or shut down the business. 1

This argument, which notes unfair discrimination against particular businesses and their proprietor's faith traditions, goes as follows:

P1: Practices which unfairly target or punish particular businesses are not economically rational;

P2: Discriminating against a business owner who does not religiously or metaphysically subscribe to same-sex wedding ceremonies is a practice which targets one business over another, thus fulfilling premise P1.


P2a: A business proprietor who accepts a different religious or metaphysical world-view than a proprietor who does not believe marriage is legitimately celebrated by two members of the same sex would have an economic advantage.

C: This sort of discrimination against businesses is not economically rational.

My opponent can attack P1 or P2 but P2a seems a bit tougher to negate. It seems intuitively obvious. And if one business is given an economic advantage, then the conclusion would apparently follow or something very similar to the conclusion would follow.

The second argument has to do with the political liberalism argument against same-sex marriage. In political liberalism, the individual's rights are respected including their religious and metaphysical beliefs. My opponent seems to think it's a one-way street. It is not just the customer who is the individual with rights but the owner of the business as well.

Would we require a Muslim to cater to a nudist colony? Would we require a kosher Jewish restaurant to serve pork? Of course not. That would be unthinkable. So, why are we asking the Christian to violate their conscience by serving, photographing, or catering to a same-sex wedding ceremony?

Economic Political Liberalism Argument against SSM:

P1: Liberalism, fostered by the state, maximizes the number of acceptable political, ideological, philosophical and religious viewpoints which can function within an economy, whether consumers or producers.

P2: When customers are allowed to claim discrimination when their particular political, ideological, philosophical and religious heritage is opposed to that of the producers in their society, political liberalism is going to allow diversity due to freedom of conscience and speech.

P3: Allowing the practice of same-sex marriage pits consumers against producers and contravenes political liberalism.

P4: That which pits consumers against producers and defies political liberalism is not economically rational.

C: It is not economically rational to allow same-sex marriage via P4.

P3 is probably the most contestable premise here. It can be argued otherwise. It definitely pits *some* consumers and *some* producers against each other. If the state did not try to mandate that some producers work together with some consumers and did not ignore the world-view clash that would result, the conclusion might not follow. However, since the state (most state governments) insists upon treating the matter (as my opponent mistakenly does) as an issue of sexual orientation rather than an issue of public morality, then the conclusion will almost necessarily follow.

I'm going to throw out another example of what I mean. A Christian approaches an Islamic baker and says, "Hey, our church is finishing up its catechism and would like you to bake a cake saying, 'Jesus is Lord'." Obviously, no one would expect the Muslim baker to proceed with the order. She or he would (most likely) decline and refer them to a different baker. That would be political liberalism at its best, tolerating diversity but also allowing the individual freedom of conscience, i.e., allowing the baker to refuse the request.

Briefly, my opponent draws attention to two different "red herrings." One is DOMA. That really has nothing to do with either of my arguments which conclude that Same-Sex Marriage is not economically rational. I will try to address it in the comments. But if someone has a long-standing belief and tradition that marriage is between one man and one woman, it does not matter whether the Supreme Court overturns DOMA in the fundamental sense of freedom of conscience.

Second, the other big "red herring" has to do with denying same-sex marriage on grounds of free speech or free expression. That is a different topic. I'm talking about same-sex marriage as economically irrational. Perhaps, we could have a different debate sometime about whether a public same-sex wedding ceremony could be banned as "free speech."

Additionally, this debate has nothing to do with someone's sexual orientation. This has to do with with whether a business owner is required to serve or cater to a public ceremony which is against their fundamental metaphysical and religious world-view. That is wrong and it is economically irrational.

That is the real issue. Same-sex marriage causes certain businesses to be targeted unfairly and it pits consumers against producers; therefore, it is economically irrational.

[1] Todd Starnes, "Baker Forced to Make Gay Wedding Cakes, After Losing Lawsuit," Fox News,


Thank you for replying.

Firstly I shall address your first argument, about "keeping a thriving and healthy business climate which does not unfairly favour one business over another". Well, to put it bluntly - Capitalism. Capitalism allows for competition between businesses and means that some businesses go under and some come out on top. Moreover, your argument that it is in some way unfair to certain businesses, when applied in another scenario, seems ridiculous and farcical. Let's make a hypothetical situation: let's say there's a vegan and a vegetarian restaurant, next to each other. Initially they're both getting the same business and number of customers, and importantly they both have the same vegan menus. One day, the vegetarian restaurant adds eggs and milk to its menu, meaning all the dishes on its menu no longer cater to only vegans, but also vegetarians. Obviously, the vegan restaurant refuses to add eggs and milk to its menu, but the vegetarian restaurant starts getting more customers and making far more money, all because the vegan restaurant's owner didn't want to also serve vegetarians. How is that different to what we are arguing about? If the wedding organisers refuse to open up their businesses to same-sex marriages because they aren't willing to broaden their minds, then they miss out on a broader market and they just have to deal with it. That's just the way it goes.

Moreover, this therefore shows that it is economically irrational not to serve same-sex couples, as the business will be losing potential business and customers by not embracing the potential of a wider market.

To address P1 and P2, how about religious people who won't shop in stores owned by people in same-sex couples? In that case, surely that religion itself is just as economically irrational as same-sex marriage? They'd go and shop from a business which is owned by a straight person, thus giving that business an unfair advantage over the other. And if we therefore assume that religion is just as economically irrational as same-sex marriage, this entire argument can be turned on its head.

To address P2a: yes they would, but that's their fault for taking the view which they take. If we were looking at this argument from a purely economic standpoint, we would say that the most economically rational thing for the business proprietor to do is set aside their own beliefs if it means making more income. Therefore I would argue that, since customers do not need businesses, but rather businesses need customers, it is more economically irrational for a business to discriminate against customers than for the businesses themselves to be discriminated against.

In response to your second argument, I have 2 rebuttals. Firstly, in France, hijabs, niqabs and burkas are all illegal. Hacidic Jews cannot wear their religious clothes in public, nor can Sikhs wear turbans, so as a European it isn't unthinkable for the state to limit religion. This ties into my second point later on, which addresses liberalism. It is illegal in the USA to discriminate negatively (and in some states positively). Now in P1 your argument that "Liberalism, fostered by the state, maximizes the number of acceptable political, ideological, philosophical and religious viewpoints which can function within an economy, whether consumers or producers" is simply untrue. Liberalism does not aim to foster and maximise the number of acceptable political, ideological, philosophical and religious viewpoints in society. That would be pluralism. Liberalism merely seeks to protect the rights of the individual so long as those rights do not infringe upon the rights of another individual. Same-sex marriage does not infringe on a Christian's rights - they may disagree with it or find it repulsive, but it is not limiting them in their lifestyles. However, denying a same-sex couple marriage IS an offence against liberalism, because it is actively limiting the individuals in the same-sex couple.

In P3 you say "allowing the practice of same-sex marriage pits consumers against producers and contravenes political liberalism", but denying same-sex marriage is far more of a limit on political liberalism, as it actively stops same-sex couples marrying each other, whereas allowing it merely offends people who disagree with it, and that is not defended under liberalism. Furthermore there is clearly a clash of rights here: most of these arguments can be turned on their heads and made to go both ways. However, to deny a same-sex couple marriage, when homosexuality is a natural part of life, because religion, which is a doctrine people can choose to subscribe to if they so wish, disallows it is morally wrong. The thought that I could write a book today that tells people they cannot domestic animals, and then in 2000 years people may still follow it to the extent of refusing commercial service to people who own a cat or a dog is a terrifying thought to say the least. I am not against religion, and I would never take it away from anyone, but when it starts limiting the lives of those who do not choose to follow it, then it is fundamentally contravening liberalism and has no place whatsoever to dictate to those outside its faith how to live their lives, or even to teach those within it to limit the lives of those outside of it.

After that short but relevant tangent, I will conclude. I would argue that you could just as validly argue that religion or a metaphysical rejection of same-sex marriage is just as much to blame for businesses being targeted unfairly and pitting consumers against producers. But moreover, I'd argue that the far more economically irrational thing to do is to reject service to same-sex couples, because if we take "economically rational" to mean "what is economically reasonable to do", then it is reasonable for business owners, based purely on economic intentions, to maximise their income by maximising their market. To reject service to anyone is the most economically irrational thing a business can do. Businesses cater to customers, customers do not cater to businesses. Anyone who has ever worked for a business, big or small, knows that the customers come first, because the customers are where the money comes from.
Debate Round No. 2


Well, this is the last round. Thank you, again, JoD for accepting the debate terms.

I will now focus on rebuttal and complaints against my arguments since I have already positively laid out a case in previous rounds.

JoD refers to capitalism and the case of the vegan versus the vegetarian restaurant in settling this problem. Yet both of these remarkably strengthen the case I laid out in Round 2! If the market is not being disrupted by the state mandating that a business must cater to a particular ceremony against the religious owner's belief, then there is no "beef" at all! The vegan/vegetarian illustration would work only if some customers who were "vegan" demanded that the vegetarian restaurant changed its menu to suit their pallette and then got the state to enforce it.

Thus, your complaint here is valid only for a utopian society where the state never needs to intervene. We all know that's a myth. And a far-fetched one at that. Furthermore, this analogy leaves untouched and unchallenged my premise P1 and its practice of unfairly (based on religious tradition) targeting one business over another.

You strengthen my argument again when you argue: "it is economically irrational not to serve same-sex couple.." And it economically irrational to discriminate against business owners who stand up for their faith. Here's why: these proprietors will refer these customers to other businesses who will serve them, thus bolstering the economy.

The point is that it is economically irrational to discriminate against business owners for their belief system. That would actually discourage the customer from reaching their intended business, i.e., a business which agrees with their public act.

JoD tries a different method of attack against P1 and P2: religious people who won't patronize shops owned by same-sex couples. While that is a creative approach, it doesn't answer the issue of the practice where the state can discriminate against businesses for their owner's belief systems. In fact, if we use the current twisted economic logic, religious people who object to public same-sex weddings could require that same-sex couple businesses sell products that promote heterosexual marriage! That would be silly, indeed. Are you starting to see the "double-standard" yet?

JoD tries countering P2a by showing that economic reality should trump business owners' belief system. That's faulty logic as well. Many business owners attribute their success to their deity. If they go against their deity's teachings in their business practices, they will lose whatever success they have gained. So, that's a real "non-starter" in addition to the fact that it doesn't address the connection between P2a and P1 (which refers to the practice of favoring one business over another by acting like religious conviction does not exist or can be "secularized").

Faulty economic logic: JoD argues that businesses need customers but customers do not need businesses. Let me ask you: Do you eat food? If you do and you are not part of a survivalist commune that produces all of its own food without any outside assistance, you are a customer who desperately needs businesses; otherwise, you would rapidly expire.

On my economic Political Liberalism Argument against SSM: JoD complains about my premise defining liberalism which sounds a lot like pluralism. I agree with your definitions here but they do support my contention. When the state upholds the rights of the individual, it does foster diversity since every person can then claim their due rights without fear of persecution for their convictions. That is what we are talking about here. Thus, liberalism tends toward pluralism and the fostering of the individual's conviction which is what I am arguing.

JoD writes that Same-Sex Marriage does not infringe a Christian's rights. This debate topic is on whether it is economically rational to compel store owners to cater to a public same-sex wedding ceremony. If you are compelling any citizen to violate their conscience, then you are restricting their free speech which is fundamentally against the U.S. Constitution. [1]

The bottom-line is that JoD has not shown an alternative path wherein Same-Sex Marriages can be publicly celebrated but business owners could be free to exercise their Constitutional rights and not be unfairly discriminated against by the State. If he cannot show that alternative, then both of the arguments stand and it is not economically rational to allow Same-Sex Marriage. [2]

[1] The opposite of "free speech" is compelled speech where the individual must do or say something; if it's not free, it's coerced;

[2] An alternative way of stating the resolution would be that it is economically irrational for the state to mandate that businesses owned by same-sex couples must serve goods and services which celebrate traditional marriage.


Thank you once more for this debate.

To contend your first point, we are leaving out one major issue here, without which I would have to agree with you: people aren't born vegetarian/vegan, but they are born homosexual and can't help it. As such, the state MUST defend the rights of same-sex couples in this area, since these businesses are discriminating against them for the customers' natures. This is akin to not serving black people or Hispanics because of their race - their race is not something they can help. [Just as an aside, I included my challenge of P1 in my other arguments, as I felt the challenges also covered that point]

You tell me that I strengthen your argument when I say it is economically irrational not to serve same-sex couples because the business owners will refer them to another business. Well for this we have to assume that the business owner isn't actually against same-sex marriage, and therefore won't even refer them to someone else out of personal disapproval. But even aside from that, your argument here falls short. According to you, the same-sex couple will get served anyway if they are referred elsewhere, and therefore the economy isn't losing out as a whole because they are still going to end up paying for a ceremony. Therefore it is not economically irrational for anyone except the business who turned them away.

I need not make this conclusion long, because I feel it is fairly clear that same-sex marriage is not economically irrational, but rather the opposite. How could a new market opening for businesses be construed as irrational in economic terms? If we look at this argument solely with regards to rationality, then my argument stands, because there can be nothing more economically irrational than not serving your customers. However, while do agree to a certain extent with some of my opponent's arguments, this is only when I completely put aside how unacceptable it would be not to serve same-sex couples based on their sexuality, and the business owners' religion. By my opponent's argument and belief in liberalism, it should follow that he believes fundamentalist Muslims should be able to kill "infidel" and force women in the USA and Western world to wear burkas and hijabs because not doing so would be a violation of their conscience. Would my opponent agree that a Muslim business owner can refuse a Jew or Christian service, because they don't agree with their beliefs or lifestyle? I'm sorry, but that just isn't how liberalism works. We live in a secular society, where religious beliefs come after human nature and basic human and civil rights.

There is no protection within the Constitution of the rights of religious people to refuse service to same-sex couples. The First Amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" - the USA is an inherently secular society. This clause in the Constitution guarantees the separation of Church and State, in my belief, for reasons such as this - not same-sex marriage specifically, but rather to strike down religion when human rights come into conflict with religion. Instead, refusing service to the LGBT community is in abridgement of the Fifth Amendment.

So to conclude, aside from being against political liberalism, basic freedom of expression and speech and just generally discriminatory and homophobic, it is undoubtedly economically irrational to refuse service to same-sex couples for the reasons I have argued above. There is nothing rational about rejecting a bigger market as a business owner, which will result in more money going into the economy. It's really that simple.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by theisticscuffles 2 years ago
Yeah, thanks to you, too, Jackofdiamonds. That was very educational.

I did post a link to it in a few facebook conversations but I imagine people were too busy to vote.

Maybe next time we'll get more voters aroused!
Posted by JackOfDiamonds 2 years ago
Thank you for the fantastic debate theisticscuffles. Shame after all that no one even voted, but it was still a very interesting and challenging debate. Once again, thank you for your time.
Posted by theisticscuffles 2 years ago
The last paragraph, I believe, beginning with "therefore" ties the arguments to the debate topic.

However, I will explicate further the connection between the arguments and the conclusion.
Posted by AlternativeDavid 2 years ago
I would take this, but the resolution is completely different from what you actually argued.
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