People should be allowed to marry people of the same sex.
I am challenging SirMaximus to this debate. 1st Round is acceptance. I've wanted to debate someone about this, but I can't get an opponent who won't FF. Hopefully this goes better.
I would first like to thank my opponent for this debate. This is my first contested gay marriage debate so I'll be trying some new things. Hopefully my opponent can deal with my antics :)
C1. Marriage is a religious institution
Marriage is considered one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church . This means that under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, that laws cannot be made by the state about it. Here is what Cornell University has to say about it-
"The First Amendment's Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion."
Armed with this knowledge, we can conclude that the government cannot make laws that infringe upon the Church.
C2. The "Slippery Slope"
Yeah, I know. Everyone has heard this 20 times in the past week, but that doesn't make it any less valid. If (well it already happened) homosexual marriage is legalized, a precedent is set that marriage is a human right (which I'll get to later), and that the definition of marriage is not concrete, and therefore is up for debate later. Bestiality and polygamy both have very strong followings and if the definition of marriage strays from the religious sacrament that it is, the religious aspect of marriage will be destroyed. The redefinition of religious marriages has more dire consequences than what's on the surface.
C3. We have civil unions for a reason
I propose that the expansion of the rights given to couples bound by civil unions is preferable to the legalization of biblical marriage of homosexuals. The biggest problem with marriage inequality was that gays did not get the same tax benefits as married heterosexual couples. With the expansion of the rights given to civil unions, homosexuals can be given the same financial and medical benefits of biblically married straight couples without infringing on the religious sacrament of marriage.
C4. Marriage is not a human right
"Human rights are afforded to anyone simply by being a human being. In the United States, we recognize these as “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” Basically, in America, if you’re born a human, you’re entitled to basic human rights. Why? Because God gave them to you. Not man." 
People can't claim marriage at birth. It's a religious contract between two consenting adults. Also, atheistic homosexuals can't claim a right given to them by a God they don't believe exists. Only 27% of homosexual couples qualify as born-again Christians . Also, the Constitution contains no explicit granting of the right to marry .
C5. Caving to the homosexual agenda has lead to religious persecution
The stories are endless.
Memories Pizzeria (guilty of nothing)
Sweet Cakes by Melissa (must pay $135,000 for refusing to make a lesbian wedding cake )
Masterpiece Cake shop, Colorado
Victoria’s Cake Cottage, Iowa
Liberty Ridge Farm, New York
Arlene’s Flowers, Washington
Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, New Jersey
Gortz Haus, Iowa
Wildflower Inn, Vermont
Elane Photography, New Mexico
All Occasion Party Place, Texas
All above businesses have in depth case analyses in source 
The list is virtually endless...
C6. Double Standards
This kind of piggybacks off of Contention 5, but it deserves a segment for itself. Christian bakers can be prosecuted for not catering a gay wedding, but black bakers can refuse to make KKK cakes, gay bakers can refuse Westboro Baptist Church cakes, and even Muslim bakeries often refuse gay wedding cakes without as much negative repercussion as Christians.  Dana Loesch says it like this- "There is a witch-hunt now for Christian business owners”
In conclusion, it is more preferable to simply expand the rights of couples bound by civil unions than it is to infringe upon the religious institution of biblical marriage.
I await Pros argument.
4.) Derryck Green, "Marriage Is Not a Right," National Center for Public Policy Research website
My opponent also says that marriage is a religious sacrament, but marriage doesn't always have to be this. Since the USA was founded on the separation of church and state (https://en.wikipedia.org...), religion should not determine legal status.
My opponent says that, if we allow same-sex couples to be in civil unions, then they will get the same tax benefits as opposite-sex couples, so same-sex couples will have no reason to complain. I don't deny that same-sex couples will get the same tax benefits as opposite-sex couples with civil unions. However, some couples may also like the government to recognize that they are married, not just give them tax benefits. My opponent also calls marriage a religious sacrament, which I have already addressed.
My opponent also says that marriage is, and I quote, "a religious contract between two consenting adults." However, I argue that marriage is not always a religious contract. I have already addressed why I don't think that marriage always has to be religious.
My opponent says that it is unfair that Christian bakers aren't always allowed not to cater a gay wedding but black bakers are allowed not to make KKK cakes, gay bakers are allowed not to make Westboro Baptist Church cakes, and Muslim bakers are allowed not to cater gay weddings. I agree. I think that either everything should be allowed, or nothing should be allowed. However, just because some Christians are treated unfairly (and I don't think that they should be treated unfairly) doesn't mean that same-sex marriage is bad. Just because some people do bad things in the name of their beliefs (e.g. treating Christians unfairly against other people because of their views on same-sex marriage) doesn't mean that their beliefs are wrong.
Thanks Pro! I'll be taking each of your statements as you addressed them.
My opponent states that keeping homosexual marriage illegal is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (because it prefers religion), but I beg to differ. Keeping gay marriage illegal is not preferring either group, but rather keeping them separate for the sake of both.
I took the liberty to read the provided link and realized that it actually strengthens my argument. This is a quote from Thomas Jefferson on the subject. It can be found in the link that Pro provides-
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."
Look at the term he uses at the end: "building a wall." This implies that the State should never be involved with the affairs of the church. The intent of the Establishment Clause was meant to give the church control over marriage, baptism, etc.
My opponent also says that marriage is not religious. It has been established that matrimony is one of the sacraments of the Catholic Church, therefore it is religious. All of the above knowledge will be used for the first point.
P1. The Establishment Clause
1. The purpose of the Establishment Clause is to keep elements of the church and state separate.
2. Marriage originated as and has always been a religious institution, therefore it pertains to the church.
Conclusion: The state has no business interfering with marriage. The illegality of gay marriage was not a show of preference, but an act of separating church and state.
"My opponent says that, if we allow same-sex couples to be in civil unions, then they will get the same tax benefits as opposite-sex couples, so same-sex couples will have no reason to complain. I don't deny that same-sex couples will get the same tax benefits as opposite-sex couples with civil unions. However, some couples may also like the government to recognize that they are married, not just give them tax benefits."
My opponent says that, and I quote, "Keeping gay marriage illegal is not preferring either group, but rather keeping them separate for the sake of both". However, I disagree. Since church and state are separate in the United States, as both my opponent and I have mentioned, keeping them separate means that neither can interfere with the other. If there's a separation of 2 things, then both things are kept out of each other. My opponent also says that the term "building a wall" used by Thomas Jefferson means that the state should never interfere with the church. I agree. However, this also means that the church should never interfere with the state.
My opponent says that, since matrimony is one of the sacraments of the Catholic Church, marriage is religious. However, not everyone is a Catholic, so the religiosity of marriage varies for everyone.
My opponent says that the only difference between civil unions and same-sex marriage is the religious connotation. However, as I have stated before, marriage isn't inherently religious. It predates recorded history (http://www.livescience.com...), so we don't know how it started. Many marriages have been religious in the past, but who is to say that non-religious marriages are less valid?
My opponent says that he's sure that the people who refused to make same-sex wedding cakes would be fine with making civil union cakes, but I argue that he has no proof of this. This is mere speculation.
I'd first like to thank Pro for an awesome debate. This was quite an experience.
Now let's get started, shall we?
My opponents case relies on the notion that marriage is not inherently religious. This is mere speculation, and my opponent concedes this when he says "we don't know how it (marriage) started." I took the liberty of viewing his source, and all I saw was just how influential the church was with the institution of marriage. The page said nothing about the origins of marriage, it was just 13 fun facts that pushed a pro-gay agenda.
Pro also says that "not everyone is a Catholic, so the religiosity of marriage varies for everyone." My question for my opponent is this: does that mean that the religiosity of baptism varies? Not everyone is a Christian, but does that mean that they should be baptized? The answer is no, and marriage is no different. The only sources in this debate regarding the origin of marriage point to religion as the main catalyst.
Another thing that my opponent says is "If there's a separation of 2 things, then both things are kept out of each other." This means that the state should stay away from the institution of marriage, which my opponent has not proved to be secular! He even says that "the state should never interfere with the church," and concedes that this was the original intent of Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Establishment Clause!
In conclusion, my opponent has dropped Contentions 2, 3, and 4, failed to provide evidence against Contention 1, and failed to explain why legalizing gay marriage would help the situation described in Contentions 5 and 6. He has made no case for gay marriage, but has focused on debunking mine, and failed to do so. This necessitates a Con vote.
I still contend that marriage is not inherently religious. While the Bible, the holy book of a major religion, has played a part in defining marriage, there is no proof that marriage was founded on it. Numerous cultures have defined marriage in history: the Israelites, the ancient Greeks, and the ancient Romans, to name some. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org...) The Israelites, who believed in the Old Testament of the Bible, were polygynous, meaning that they saw it as acceptable for men to have more than one wife. I am not arguing for polygyny, nor am I arguing against it. (I will argue in favour of legal polygamy later to prove a point, but not yet.) I am just stating what the Israelites saw as acceptable. The ancient Greeks defined marriage as a consenting relationship between 1 man and 1 woman. It was typical for men to marry in their 20s, and it was typical for women to marry as teenagers. As for the ancient Romans, they had numerous forms of marriage. One of these kinds of marriage was called conventio in manum, which was seen as traditional. This involved a marriage ceremony, which always had to have witnesses. If a conventio in manum marriage were to be dissolved, then a ceremony would also be necessary. The husband would always have authority over the wife in this kind of marriage. In sine manu marriage, another kind of marriage that the ancient Romans had, the wife's father would always have authority over the wife. Girls could have sine manu marriages when they were as young as 12 years old. (Source for all of these things: https://en.wikipedia.org...) What's my point? My point is that, even if marriage was founded as being religious, no one can deny that it has changed throughout time. I argue that it's illogical to say that marriage must be religious because that's how it started. No sane person would argue, for example, that a wife must always be under the authority of her husband or her father just because that's how the Romans did it. So why should we argue that marriage must be between 1 man and 1 woman just because that's what the Bible says?
My opponent compares saying that the religiosity of marriage varies for everyone since not everyone is a Catholic to saying that the religiosity of baptism varies. However, I argue that this is different. Baptism was started as being religious and remains so to this day, as it is a Christian sacrament (https://en.wikipedia.org...). Marriage, however, might not have been started that way. Even if it was, I don't think that that matters, as I have already explained.
My opponent says that the state should stay away from the institution of marriage, and my opponent also says that I have not proven marriage to be secular. While marriage is not always secular, it can be and sometimes is. I argue that religious marriages and secular marriages are equally valid. My opponent says that, since church and state are separate, the state must stay out of marriage. However, marriage is not necessarily part of the church, which I have already explained. I've said before that the state should stay out of the church, as my opponent has acknowledged, and I still think that. I believe that churches (and mosques, and synagogues, etc.) should have the legal right not to let same-sex couples marry in their buildings. Places of worship are private, so the government (that is, the state) should have no place in determining which marriages should be allowed there (that is, the church). However, the government denying public and legal marriage of same-sex couples is not keeping church and state separate, but rather mixing them.
My opponent has pointed out that I have not debunked all of his contentions, so I will debunk them one by one, in order.
My opponent has pointed out that I have failed to provide evidence against Contention 1. His Contention 1 is that, since marriage is considered to be one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, the state cannot make laws about marriage, since the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment in the United States prohibits the government from preferring non-religion over religion. However, as I have already explained, marriage is not necessarily religious, so the government cannot base their laws about marriage on any religion.
My opponent's Contention 2 is that bestiality and polygamy both have very strong followings, and if marriage is legally redefined in order to include same-sex couples (which it already has been in the United States), then marriage will be up for debate later. My opponent seems to be implying that legal same-sex marriage paves the way for legal bestiality and legal polygamy. However, here's a point of my own about same-sex marriage that I have not yet made: adults of the same sex or gender can consent to being in a relationship together, but an animal cannot consent to being in a relationship with a human. That is why same-sex marriage is different than bestiality, and why I approve of same-sex marriage but not bestiality. As for polygamy, I don't have a problem with it. If everyone involved is a consenting adult, then why not? My opponent seems to be implying that polygamy is wrong and shouldn't be legal. But, for the sake of argument, let's say that it shouldn't be legal. Making same-sex marriage legal has not led to polygamy being legal. To prove this, look at https://en.wikipedia.org... and https://en.wikipedia.org.... Polygamy tends to not be legal in countries outside of Africa and Asia, and it's even illegal in most of the latter. (Note that I say "tends to": The United Kingdom, for example, is a European country, and it grants its citizens who have gotten married polygamously in foreign countries some benefits payments, although it doesn't perform polygamous marriages. I would't count polygamy as being totally illegal in the United Kingdom for this reason, although I recognize that some might disagree, which I understand.) However, countries in these continents tend to have the strictest laws against same-sex marriage and homosexual behaviour. Meanwhile, North America, South America, Australia, and Europe are usually the most lenient about same-sex marriage and homosexual behaviour, despite not allowing polygamy. So, same-sex marriage has not led to legal polygamy, even though my opponent seems to think that it might. There is no causation between same-sex marriage being legal and polygamy being legal, as I have demonstrated. While polygamy is illegal in much of Asia, and Asia doesn't have many countries where same-sex marriage is allowed (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org...), the majority of the other places on Earth show that there is no positive causation between legal same-sex marriage and legal polygamy. The countries outside of Asia outweigh the countries in Asia, because there are many more of the former than there are of the latter.
My opponent's Contention 3 is that we should have civil unions for same-sex couples, rather than calling it marriage. However, I disagree. Consider a hypothetical situation where same-sex couples followed a religion that said that it was OK for same-sex couples to marry but not for opposite-sex couples to marry, and they proposed that opposite-sex couples be in legal "civil unions". There would be outrage from opposite-sex couples, and quite rightly. My opponent also says that marriage is a religious sacrament, and I have already said why I disagree with that.
My opponent's Contention 4 is that marriage is a religious contract. However, as I have stated before, marriage isn't always religious, which I have already explained.
My opponent says that I have failed to explain why legalizing same-sex marriage would help the situation that my opponent has described in Contentions 5 and 6, i.e. that there is a double standard that some Christian bakers aren't allowed to not cater gay weddings but other people can refuse to make certain cakes that go against their personal beliefs. I have already stated that I, too, disagree with this double standard. However, while legalizing same-sex marriage would not help the situation, it wouldn't harm it, either. People who change their minds from being against same-sex marriage to being for it because of some government's ruling wouldn't suddenly start oppressing Christians. If they would oppress Christians because of their views on same-sex marriage, then they would be doing that whether same-sex marriage would be legal or not. And as I have stated before, just because some people do immoral acts in the name of their beliefs does not mean that their beliefs are wrong.
And now, for some arguments of my own in favour of same-sex marriage. The 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the United States says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, and rightly so. The United States can't base its laws on religion, because we have separation of church and state. The state can't forbid churches from not letting same-sex couples get married there, and the church can't forbid the state from not recognizing legal same-sex marriages. Also, if consenting adults want to get married, then it won't hurt anyone, so therefore, it should be legal.
Thank you, Con, for debating this topic with me. It was a great experience.
Vote fairly and with consideration of everything, no matter who you vote for.