Legalizing gay marriage
Debate Rounds (3)
I'd like to begin by posing a few questions, organized into categories. By no means do I expect an individual answer to each question, just an explanation for each general inquiry. The first two cover two subjects you brought up "marriage and love " and the third is a general societal trend. Once I have your opinion, I'll be able to more effectively respond.
1) What precisely is "marriage" and what purpose does it serve? Why do societies, religions and governments recognize it? Why do we stress it as a lifelong commitment? Why do we limit it to two individuals?
2) Where does love come from? What are the roots of attraction? Why do people overwhelmingly prefer marrying someone of the opposite sex, of the same race, of the same political orientation and of the same religion?
If "you can't help who you fall in love with", is love a random process? Could I call up Kate Upton and ask her to fall in love with me? How do we discriminate between suitable life partners? What are the factors by which we evaluate if another individual is suitable for marriage?
3) How do you explain the fact that marriage rates are the lowest they've ever been in American history? Since marriage can now have multiple definitions " a union for procreation, a business partnership, a declaration of love " and since we've tried to break down so many barriers " interracial marriage, inter-religious marriage, international marriage " why are so few people actually interested in getting married?
1)The thing that a lot of people get hung up on is this ideal of marriage. Very much traditionally marriage has been between a man and a woman, but it has also many times been between a man and many women. So I think that the traditional "one man one woman" concept can be thrown out the door. I myself do not see the huge fascination with having a legal document declare your love forever. Most people find this document a necessity or validity of their love, so I think that gay couples should have the option to do so if they choose to.
2) Love is partially a learned thing. Most people learn from the example of their parents. So i think that if most people grow up seeing heterosexual couples they will see that more as the norm than homosexual couples. I think maybe people prefer to marry people of the opposite sex is because they won't be so different. Even though we are in a time of change, it's still rare to see homosexual couples (also depending on where you live)
I worded my statement wrong. "you can't help who you fall in love with" I should say that love is different for everyone, and love shouldn't be defined by just a man and a woman.
3)I think that marriage itself is hard. It truly is a difficult thing to commit to because it takes work. I don';t think that there are lower marriage rates because of the barriers that we have broken down, or the barriers we have yet to break down but the fact that so many divorces happen that people have become afraid of the word marriage.
"A recognition of love" is not an adequate definition for marriage from either a legal or societal perspective. Unions between men and women, whether they were called "marriage" or not, have existed since the dawn of the human species -- if they were not social or political, they were certainly sexual or we would not be here today. People who married may have been in love but the presence of the emotion was surely not the reason that societies developed this institution, which has lasted for tens of thousands of years. Do you really think that our ancestors, who spent hundreds of thousands of years in hunter-gather cultures where life was miserable, food was scarce, death was imminent, and intelligence was limited, would worry about declaring "lifelong love" between people? If it were true, why weren't there institutions that developed that acknowledged other emotions like hatred or jealousy?
The primary reason why marriage was invented in the first place was to encourage strong, stable relationships between men, women and their children. Our ancestors acknowledged the complementary nature of the sexes and the need for a union that would mutually benefit everyone involved. They saw that the absence of such a binding institution created trends that were not good for societal stability -- fathers who didn't know who their children were that lost incentive to contribute to the tribe, single mothers who lacked resource providers, bastard children who lacked anyone to provide for them.
In fact, the biological complementarity of the sexes is the explanation for nearly everything. The root of attraction lies ENTIRELY in mate selection. It isn't random and arbitrary. The things that we find attractive in a person reflect their ability to carry or nurture or provide for the child. Men seek fertility, youth and beauty. Women seek resource provision, social dominance, and proof of superiority over other men. It's amazing that a lot of non-believers think the Bible is a sexist, racist, homophobic etc. old document but have no clue that evolution supports the exact same conclusions.
The specific attributes that are attached to marriage came from this recognition of the unique design of the sexes.
The preference for monogamy and sexual exclusivity? That was a way for a man to guarantee paternity for his child.
The promise of lifelong commitment? That's a way for a woman to guarantee continuous provision of resources in exchange for carrying and nurturing the man's child.
The union of one woman and one man? That was a way to guarantee each child had access to both the physical resources of the father (food, shelter) and the emotional resources of the mother (nurturing, raising), reducing the pressure on their tribe.
The institution of marriage and its rules were not arbitrary inventions based on randomness or recognition of people's emotions. Did that mean that couples were not in love? No, of course they were. It just meant that the specific social institution of marriage was created to facilitate stability within society --- so fathers knew who were their children, so women were tied to provisions so they would not perish, so children would have an increased chance of survival.
Even polygamists follow some of these basic rules of sexual complementarity. Notice how you yourself said marriage has sometimes been "a man and many women". Have you wondered why it's very rare to see the opposite -- one woman with multiple men? The answer once again lies in the fixed realities of the sexual market. One man with a lot of resources could easily impregnate five women. In contrast, if there were five men with one woman, none of them would know who the father was and reduce the chances of their genes passing down. The deal was thus disadvantageous for many men and those types of marriages sprung up rarely.
Everything about marriage concerns the basic reality of the complementary sexual design of men and women. In fact, even if you think that religion is all lies, you can still see why the people who created it would put these rules as the word of "God" -- they ensured stability.
One may argue that since marriage is a social institution, its definition can change over time. That's true, but the biological reality of the sexes is fixed and set in stone. If marriage is treated as an arbitrary concept with no basis in reality or natural law, then it will quickly lose meaning, much like if you take a word and let every person give it a different definition. You need consistency in order for something to last. You have to resort to natural absolutes to create effective policies that last. The only difference between secular opponents of gay marriage and religious ones is that they disagree on the creator of these natural absolutes. But they exist regardless of who created them. The "definitions change" argument is also not good for the pro gay marriage crowd because it means that the term can change once again, for example if religious people emerge as a majority demographic (which fertility rates say they will, contrary to the media myth that religion is dying).
If you need proof that the opening of marriage to any and every definition has harmful effects, take a look at the last 50 years. Like I said, we have the lowest marriage rates ever, we have extremely short, hedonistic relationships where people are treated as sexual objects to be replaced, we have the highest rates of out of wedlock births ever, we have an increasing number of people who never have children which leads to a dying population, and various other dysgenic results. People have NO CLUE what marriage is supposed to mean because it has so many different definitions. It's for children, it's for love, it's for legal benefits, it's for "equality", on and on and on. Regardless of what you'd like marriage to be, you can't create a stable institution unless people have a consistent understanding of it. As I said earlier, the only way to ensure that consistency is if the institution is based on natural absolutes that are not subject to change, not our emotions or cultural fancies.
rightwrong forfeited this round.
"Legitimate sexual access"
Edvard Westermarck defined marriage as "a more or less durable connection between male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring." In The Future of Marriage in Western Civilization (1936), he rejected his earlier definition, instead provisionally defining marriage as "a relation of one or more men to one or more women that is recognized by custom or law".
Drawing on Westermarck, Duran Bell describes marriage as "a relationship between one or more men (male or female) in severalty to one or more women that provides those men with a demand-right of sexual access within a domestic group and identifies women who bear the obligation of yielding to the demands of those specific men." In referring to "men in severalty", Bell is referring to corporate kin groups such as lineages which, in having paid brideprice, retain a right in a woman's offspring even if her husband (a lineage member) deceases (Levirate marriage). In referring to "men (male or female)", Bell is referring to women within the lineage who may stand in as the "social fathers" of the wife's children born of other lovers. (See Nuer "Ghost marriage")
However, the necessary connection between marriage and sexuality is being questioned by asexual marriages.
"Legitimacy of offspring"
The anthropological handbook Notes and Queries (1951) defined marriage as "a union between a man and a woman such that children born to the woman are the recognized legitimate offspring of both partners." In recognition of a practice by the Nuer of Sudan allowing women to act as a husband in certain circumstances (the Ghost marriage), Kathleen Gough suggested modifying this to "a woman and one or more other persons."
In an analysis of marriage among the Nayar, a polyandrous society in India, Gough found that the group lacked a husband role in the conventional sense; that unitary role in the west was divided between a non-resident "social father" of the woman's children, and her lovers who were the actual procreators. None of these men had legal rights to the woman's child. This forced Gough to disregard sexual access as a key element of marriage and to define it in terms of legitimacy of offspring alone: marriage is "a relationship established between a woman and one or more other persons, which provides a child born to the woman under circumstances not prohibited by the rules of relationship, is accorded full birth-status rights common to normal members of his society or social stratum."
Bell criticized the legitimacy-based definition on the basis that some societies do not require marriage for legitimacy. He argued that a legitimacy-based definition of marriage is circular in societies where illegitimacy has no other legal or social implications for a child other than the mother being unmarried.
"Collection of rights"
Edmund Leach criticized Gough's definition for being too restrictive in terms of recognized legitimate offspring and suggested that marriage be viewed in terms of the different types of rights it serves to establish. Leach argued that no one definition of marriage applied to all cultures. He offered a list of ten rights associated with marriage, including sexual monopoly and rights with respect to children, with specific rights differing across cultures. Those rights included:
"To establish a legal father of a woman's children.
To establish a legal mother of a man's children.
To give the husband a monopoly in the wife's sexuality.
To give the wife a monopoly in the husband's sexuality.
To give the husband partial or monopolistic rights to the wife's domestic and other labour services.
To give the wife partial or monopolistic rights to the husband's domestic and other labour services.
To give the husband partial or total over property belonging or potentially accruing to the wife.
To give the wife partial or total over property belonging or potentially accruing to the husband.
To establish a joint fund of property " a partnership " for the benefit of the children of the marriage.
To establish a socially significant 'relationship of affinity' between the husband and his wife's brothers."
And so on...nearly everything ties back to resources on one form of another.
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