The Instigator
Morpheus
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
Jinx
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Same Sex Marriage should be legal, because religious observance and parenthood are optional.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/29/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,259 times Debate No: 15674
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)

 

Morpheus

Pro

Although many religions entertain marriage ceremonies, no religion can place its own restrictions on the civil marriages of people who choose not to follow the tenets of faith presented by the religion.

Example: If religion A does not approve of marriages of people in religion A to religion B, people in religion A can still seek civil marriages with people of religion B.

Although child rearing is heralded as a cornerstone of marriage, no opposite-sex couple is ever prevented from getting legal marriage on the basis of 'not being able to procreate together through copulation'. Therefore, to use such a stipulation only against same-sex couples, and not all couples, is unconstitutional.

Example: Heterosexual couples who are sterile, disabled, HIV+, or beyond the age of safe procreation are not governed by any rules concerning procreative ability when seeking legal marriage, but somehow homosexual couples are in many US jurisdictions.

Arguments that have any reference to the well-being of children are flawed, because banning same sex couples from getting legal marriage does not prevent them from raising their children. Heterosexual parents that abuse, or even murder their offspring, do not have their marriages invalidated for failure to provide a good environment for their child.

If anyone can refute my arguments, I would appreciate the effort.
Jinx

Con

Before we can effectively determine this topic, we must resolve the opposing issues within it.

Point number one, legality and religion. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

With this in mind, granting something as legal or illegal with any basis resting on it's ties to religion in any form is unconstitutional, and therefore cannot be enacted into law.

Point number two, marriage as a word. The term marriage is in essence a technicality that is being use by both sides of a very impassioned argument. One side seeks to protect what they see as sacred from what they see as unholy, while the other side in many cases simply wishes to be granted the same benefits afforded to everyone else in their community. The easy fix to this would be to re-categorize at a technical level. Classify a marriage as a religious institution, left to the discretion of the individuals particular denomination, and register the category of Civil Union to be entered into by all those wishing to be legally viewed as a couple.

As it currently stands, in order for a "marriage" to be "legal" in our current government (USA), the individual officiating must be registered and empowered by their respective state. This requirement would not need to change, as all marriages would require registration as a civil union to be official in the eyes of the law.

Point number three, parenting. I do agree with my opponent on the point of the ability to procreate being for all intents and purposes immaterial in deeming people suitable for being joined as a couple. As previously stated, medical conditions, abuse, and unfit personalities are present at what I would imagine are close to the same across both gay and straight couples on a per capita basis.

In conclusion, I feel that the religious communities should observe the love and tolerances appropriate for their specific denominations, and be compassionate to their communities at large. I also feel that the communities at large should respect the beliefs of their religious communities, and understand that they are as entitled to cling to their beliefs and tenants as anyone else is to live in opposition. Same sex marriage should not be legal, but there should be a legal recourse granting the same rights and benefits to those that do not fit the mold of what is commonly accepted as "traditional".
Debate Round No. 1
Morpheus

Pro

First, I would like to thank my opponent for taking the time to address my challenge.

I agree with my opponent that, as per the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, congress cannot enact laws that use any religious articles as justification, unless the articles coincide with secular laws and their justifications. (Laws against killing, stealing, et cetera). Laws also do not control what sort of marriages a particular religion recognizes as legitimate or sanctioned by their deity or deities. The law could not force churches to recognize interracial, interdenominational, interfaith, or same-sex marriages because they are protected by the First Amendment. However, the clergy cannot dictate which citizens can engage in the current system of Civil Matrimony, without consistently applicable secular arguments.

Marriage as a word has indeed become a contentious issue, mainly for groups that want to prevent same-sex couples from getting legal marriage. It is worth stating that these groups have not expressed the same passionate interest in enacting laws to reflect many other provisions for marriage dictated by their respective faiths, such as a law to prevent divorce, or laws to prevent marriages of people with different religions.

Religious communities should address the issue of same-sex marriage much in the same way that they address dietary laws across religious lines. According to Hebrew dietary laws (Kashrut), and Muslim dietary laws (Halal), people are not to consume pork. These groups are able to practice their faith without enacting laws to prevent other people from eating pork, nor do they require laws to practice their own faith. Citizens of the United States who do not follow these dietary laws need not abstain from eating pork to 'respect the beliefs' of the practitioners. Likewise, same-sex couples do not need to abstain from legal marriage to show 'respect' for religions that do not condone same-sex marriage or relationships. As my opponent offers no support of using religion to justify laws against same-sex marriage, I have nothing more to explain on this point in the current debate.

I will accept the suggested solution offered by my opponent, to effectively absolve the government from the use of the term 'marriage', however, such an act would effectively legalize same-sex marriage across the United States. I am not sure if that is the intended effect that my opponent was trying to establish, but if all parties that enter into a Civil Union (to be the universal replacement term for Civil Marriage) are free to call their union a 'marriage', then all same-sex couples that obtain Civil Unions (alongside all mixed-sex couples) would be able to refer to their union as a 'marriage'. The provision for reclassifying marriage as a religious institution would only complicate matters, as marriage in and of itself is not a religious institution. Although many religions have ceremonies and rules for marriage, there is no central religion to which the term would be given, and the non-religious cannot be prevented from enjoying the use of the term 'marriage', especially by any act of congress under the current Constitution (USA).

My opponent also agrees that procreative ability is not a requirement for legal marriages to be recognized by the government as valid. I included that point in the initial argument only to address one of the central arguments offered in defense of laws designed to exclude same-sex couples from legal marriage.

In conclusion, I understand the desire to 'protect' what a group finds to be sacred, but the concept of marriage does not belong to any particular religion, Judeo-Christian or otherwise. If groups wish to effectively ban same-sex couples from getting married, they need only provide universal, consistently applicable, and secular justifications to establish permanent laws on the issue, where the arguments will be able to stand on their own merits, rather than the popularity of the view, or conviction of those who hold them. Citizens should not be expected to follow arbitrarily selected tenets of the faiths of others as a sign of respect to that religion.
Jinx

Con

Let me first thank my opponent for his reply. It is very civil, well written, and intelligent. This is something that is not typically found in discussions around these often very touchy topics.

To continue in my rebuttal, I will address some segments of my opponents rebuttal. This is not done to attempt to overlook any of his points, nor to twist his words, simply selecting what I feel was the "point" of each paragraph. If anyone feels my assessment is incorrect or inappropriate, please leave a comment to that effect.

"The law could not force churches to recognize interracial, interdenominational, interfaith, or same-sex marriages because they are protected by the First Amendment. However, the clergy cannot dictate which citizens can engage in the current system of Civil Matrimony, without consistently applicable secular arguments."

While I find the information provided here to be generally correct, it is not the clergy specifically of any church or religious organization that would dictate the permission or lack of permission. The citizen members of all churches have an equal voice in the form of their vote. While it is within each members power to make their own choice, many will follow the tenants of their faith on the subject.

"It is worth stating that these groups have not expressed the same passionate interest in enacting laws to reflect many other provisions for marriage dictated by their respective faiths, such as a law to prevent divorce, or laws to prevent marriages of people with different religions."

While this statement is accurate, it should also be noted that by and large most religions follow a generally similar ideology and process when it comes to the topic of marriage. In this respect the denominational differences from one to the other are not so far removed as to make one take ideological exception to the processes of another.

"Religious communities should address the issue of same-sex marriage much in the same way that they address dietary laws across religious lines."

Addressing in this method blurs the lines of both law and faith. The issue of same-sex marriage, is one of secular law, not spiritual law. While many people draw on their faith to make their decision in regard to their opinion on law, they do not by and large utilize it to coerce other faiths to do things their way. With certain exceptions, mostly of a cultural nature, the vast majority of faiths do not utilize law, be it their own or their nations, to subvert the operations of other faiths."

"According to Hebrew dietary laws (Kashrut), and Muslim dietary laws (Halal), people are not to consume pork. These groups are able to practice their faith without enacting laws to prevent other people from eating pork, nor do they require laws to practice their own faith. Citizens of the United States who do not follow these dietary laws need not abstain from eating pork to 'respect the beliefs' of the practitioners. Likewise, same-sex couples do not need to abstain from legal marriage to show 'respect' for religions that do not condone same-sex marriage or relationships. As my opponent offers no support of using religion to justify laws against same-sex marriage, I have nothing more to explain on this point in the current debate."

Laws are created by the influence of the people. I do not believe for a minute that a majority of some of the more radical denominations of faiths would hold back in creating laws that forced others into accepting their practices. It is the majority who prevent this from happening. Early tribes were typically governed by a spiritual leader, or by one who deferred to a spiritual leader. This was long before there were nations and laws created by them. As these tribes became nations, they brought with them their beliefs, and those beliefs would help mold them into their laws. Historically, laws and cultures change when the belief of the majority changes and thereby influences. This is reflected by both the enactment and later repeals in the United States of the Sodomy Laws, which I'm sure many would agree is a milestone in the journey of legalizing unions of same gender couples.

"I will accept the suggested solution offered by my opponent, to effectively absolve the government from the use of the term 'marriage', however, such an act would effectively legalize same-sex marriage across the United States. I am not sure if that is the intended effect that my opponent was trying to establish, but if all parties that enter into a Civil Union (to be the universal replacement term for Civil Marriage) are free to call their union a 'marriage', then all same-sex couples that obtain Civil Unions (alongside all mixed-sex couples) would be able to refer to their union as a 'marriage'. The provision for reclassifying marriage as a religious institution would only complicate matters, as marriage in and of itself is not a religious institution. Although many religions have ceremonies and rules for marriage, there is no central religion to which the term would be given, and the non-religious cannot be prevented from enjoying the use of the term 'marriage', especially by any act of congress under the current Constitution (USA)."

The individual terms that people use in day to day conversation to describe things is not always the same as what is the "proper" terminology. This does not however reduce or remove the technical aspect of what is procedurally correct.

"In conclusion, I understand the desire to 'protect' what a group finds to be sacred, but the concept of marriage does not belong to any particular religion, Judeo-Christian or otherwise. If groups wish to effectively ban same-sex couples from getting married, they need only provide universal, consistently applicable, and secular justifications to establish permanent laws on the issue, where the arguments will be able to stand on their own merits, rather than the popularity of the view, or conviction of those who hold them. Citizens should not be expected to follow arbitrarily selected tenets of the faiths of others as a sign of respect to that religion."

At current groups need not do anything to prevent same gender couples from getting married. In addition, they need only provide justification if they wish to sway the opinion of another person. While I agree that people should not be forced to follow the faith doctrine of others, they are bound as citizens to follow the laws of the land that they are citizens of. It is by this measure that I state that if same gender marriages SHOULD be allowed, then by the will of the majority of the people they WILL. As it currently stands, this is not the case. I look forward to our third round.
Debate Round No. 2
Morpheus

Pro

Arguments on issues as derisive as same-sex marriage should have a goal. Mine is not to denigrate or humiliate any opponent of same-sex marriage, as many upstanding and well-meaning citizens of the country are adverse to the notion of same-sex marriage, usually for religious reasons that demand that they remain dedicated to a certain set of principles. My goal is only to illustrate how two of the principal arguments against same-sex marriage have no consistent bearing on 'civil marriage', and therefore should be abandoned as reasons to pass or defend laws to prevent same-sex 'civil marriages' from being recognized by the State.

I agree that citizens have an equal voice in the form of their vote. It is unrealistic to expect a people to divorce themselves of their deep religious convictions when presented with an option to uphold or reject an article of faith via ballot initiatives and public opinion polls. A Jewish majority could easily ban all consumption of pork products for a particular jurisdiction under a simple ballot initiative, without having to render secular arguments as a collective force.

Likewise, if presented with a National vote to make pre-marital sex illegal, (or at the least a misdemeanor), a Christian majority would also be compelled to vote according to the precepts of their faith, rather than their own opinions or feelings on the issue. The inference that 'most religions' follow a generally similar ideology and process when it comes to the topic of marriage is not particularly useful, simply because they follow similar ideologies about premarital sex as well, and follow them without encouraging ballot initiatives to enforce their doctrines universally, even if the majority follows similar concepts on the issue.

On the issue of blurring lines of law and faith, I believe I may have been unclear. I did not mean to convey the notion that religions communicate with each other on how they enforce their doctrines concerning dietary laws or other concept. I meant that these communities should consider the ease by which they are able to follow their own dietary laws without ballot initiatives to enforce the rules of their faith on the general population via 'majority rule'. Since laws governing marriage do not govern for whom a religion holds ceremonial rites, nor do they dictate who a religion should recognize as 'married', the legality of same-sex marriage should be handled in much the same way that many religions addresses the legality of interdenominational civil marriages. Although many typically do not allow such marriages as part of their faith, they do not act to restrict the general public from entering civil marriages recognized by the State.

Furthermore, even majority rule has limits, otherwise there would not be a need for a constitution or Bill of Rights. Under the current system of checks and balances, the Court system is in place to protect the minority from decisions of the majority that contradict precepts set by a previous majority through the Constitution. Prohibition, increased voting ages, restrictions of women being able to vote, and even slavery can be reestablished in the United States, if and only if the majority acts to change the constitution to reflect such a change. When a majority enacts a law or policy against same-sex marriages, it can be challenged by a minority that wields the authority of a 'previous' majority through a citation of a violation of a statute set in a State or National Constitution.

Therefore, if the majority feels as if same-sex marriage should not be allowed, then they need only change the Constitution of the United States to reflect that wish. Under the current (2011) Constitution of the United States of America, the argument has been made that bans against same-sex marriage stand in direct violation of Equal Protection and Due Process clauses, as well as Full Faith and Credit statutes set by the will of a previous majority in the United States to create such concepts. The validity of that particular argument is irrelevant to the current discussion, but it serves to illustrate how the will of the people of a past majority, as expressed in their changes to the United States Constitution can be defended in court by a minority against a 'current' majority who has not yet overruled the former majority through the Amendment process to the Constitution.

At current, groups such as the National Organization for Marriage are trying quite diligently to prevent same-sex couples in several locations from enjoying legal marriage status. Unfortunately, these groups rely heavily on arguments concerning religion and parenthood, yet have no consistently applicable arguments or credible data to support their predictions about what happens to places that have legal same-sex marriage. I invite all readers to search for the online debate between Evan Wolfson and Maggie Gallagher on the 'Economist' to explore a multi-round debate between a same-sex marriage proponent and a founder of the National Organization for Marriage.

I have had a wonderful time in this discussion, and I invite comments from all sides of the issue. I am also amiable to the prospect of being challenged to another debate on this issue, with a different focus. I will issue a charge to both sides of the conversation: Tailor your arguments to make a sincere attempt to cause the other person to abandon faulty arguments, rather than attempts to frustrate or insult the other person, their faith, or their relationship.
Jinx

Con

In summary, the topic of same gender marriage has many far reaching ramifications on all sides. To say it should be legal on the merits of only two of these points, parentage and religion, is to disrespect the significance of the relationships of those involved, regardless of sexual orientation. Thank you again to my opponent for a very well rounded discussion.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Morpheus 6 years ago
Morpheus
These address the most popular arguments in the public arena, and therefore are not "straw man" arguments. Had we been in a debate and I said that you made those statements and you didn't, then I would be guilty of straw man fallacy. You are welcome to post any reasons that you believe are consistently applicable and legally valid. Thank you for your comment.
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
this is one big strawman.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
MorpheusJinxTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro accepted Con's arguments that the government should only offer civil unions to all so that everyone can have equal benefits, "I will accept the suggested solution offered by my opponent..." Both sides showed a great amount of good conduct and should both be applauded for it. As for sources, neither side used any so that will remain moot, and I didn't notice any grammatical errors to speak of.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
MorpheusJinxTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con could not sustain an argument with majority rule = law.
Vote Placed by socialpinko 6 years ago
socialpinko
MorpheusJinxTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro gets arguments as Con asserted that the Constitution prohibits religious institutions from imposing their beliefs on irreligious members of society or members of different demonitations. Con was thus forced to bring secular reasons for the prohibition of same-sex marriage which he was unable to.