The Instigator
Fenrir
Pro (for)
Winning
84 Points
The Contender
MikeGarcia
Con (against)
Losing
15 Points

Same-sex Marriages

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/11/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,095 times Debate No: 215
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (19)
Votes (33)

 

Fenrir

Pro

To be honest, I am having a hard time trying to figure out why anyone would be opposed to same-sex marriage beyond a personal moral opposition that they feel they must impose on others. Every argument I've heard against it seems to be a shallow cover-up for one's own opposition to homosexuality, and nothing more. I'm really just getting tired of people trying to force their views on others. For some things, I can at least understand--laws regulating alcohol or against illegal substances, for example, do have basis in the fact that these can be very harmful. However, I see no danger in a homosexual union beyond supposed moral retribution.
MikeGarcia

Con

I too, have a hard time sometimes when I try to justify my stance against same-sex marriage. And by marriage, I mean the whole nine yards. Civil-union, gay-marriage, it should not be allowed, in my opinion.

Why not? Isn't this a free country? Shouldn't we be allowed to do what we please? Abraham Lincoln once said that "freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought." Now, I don't think he was talking about same-sex marriage, but let us analyze the implications of his argument. Should freedom be anarchy, with no laws governing people, or should it be the moral principle guiding us humans toward doing what is right for mankind?

Most of the laws we have inflict some type of morality on others. Take, for example, the illegalization of polygamy or bestiality. Why should they be illegal? I can't think of a good reason other than that they're morally reprehensible to our society. Stealing, murder, libel, slander... they're all based upon the ten commandments, which definitely could be interpreted as "inflicting someone else's morality" on someone else. What do you say about these laws? Why should it be illegal watch child pornography? Can you think of a good reason, other than the fact that it's just morally wrong?

Another big factor in the argument that often goes unnoticed is the fact that heterosexual marriage has been the definition of marriage, globally, for the past 6,000 years. It is the fundamental building block of every known civilization, whether it be Christian, Islamic, or Jewish. Heterosexual marriage has always been the standard. Sure, we can change that standard, but doing so would change many of the social norms and constructs we've known for so very long. This is where we get to the "nature vs. nurture" argument. If my theory is correct, and homosexuality is "nurture," there will be big problems for our society. A society, which was built upon (if you already haven't heard it often enough) Judeo-Christian values.

I always joke: "I believe that homosexual men have every right to marry... as long as it is to a woman!" In all seriousness, though, there's a reason why men can only marry women. For example, when debating the topic of same-sex married couples adopting a child: what will be the limits? Would it be wise to let two, young homosexual men adopt a teenage gay son? Or two homosexual women adopt a teenage lesbian daughter? Would there be laws against incest in this situation? Statutory rape? Alas, would we allow two heterosexual men adopt a heterosexual teenage daughter? Because, be reminded, the allowance of gay marriage will essentially allow ALL members of every sex, no matter what their orientation is, to be married, even if just temporarily. How would we regulate instances such as these?

I argue that it is better that we don't worry about those kind of societal problems, and go with the solution that has always worked - defining marriage, lawfully, as a union between a man and a woman. Nothing else.
Debate Round No. 1
Fenrir

Pro

Hm..why is polygamy illegal indeed? As a devout Mormon, I'm really upset about that.

That was a joke, of course. Though I am an active Mormon, you seem to me to be intelligent enough to know that they no longer practice polygamy (I will refrain from a large tangent here, but I am willing to debate and defend the practice of polygamy by Latter Day Saints to anyone who would challenge me). But to return to the question, why is it illegal? After a bit of research, I really couldn't find any conclusive reasoning as to why it was originally declared illegal--long before the Mormons. However, as you yourself said, our society has been built upon--and, if I may elaborate to say our nation was founded upon--Judeo-Christian values. One can not deny that some of the laws set in place at the founding of our nation are in conflict with what we believe today, such as slavery and voting rights. It would not be a stretch to say that marriage was defined in our nation as being between one man and one woman because of a predominantly Christian society. In short, polygamy could take the same argument of beliefs being imposed on others.

Beastiality is illegal because it is defined as animal abuse.

As for stealing, murder, etcetera, these are illegal because they infringe upon one's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the unalienable rights so prominent in our nation's founding. Child pornography as well, as having children being subjected to something such as that is something than can and often does leave serious emotional scars--I know people who dealt with sexual abuse as children, and it was something that created significant psychological issues for them.

Also, for considering laws that seem based on moral ideas, let's take a look at Divine Command Theory, the idea that God gives us morally right and wrong instructions. Principled Divine Command Theory suggests that things are not good or bad because God says they are right or wrong (which is, alternatively, Fiat Divine Command), but that God says things are right are wrong based on whether or not they are good or bad. As such, laws are often similar or the same as religious ideals because many of those ideals are simply good, not necessarily because they are religious in nature. However, this is not excuse for saying that because God commanded it, it is good, and thus it should be law. Because didn't He command that we should have no other gods, or keep the sabbath holy? Yet these are commandments that do not find their way into the legal system because there is no reason to believe, outside of faith, that not following them will lead to harm of oneself or others. Similarly, same-sex marriages, though morally wrong in God's eyes, should not receive the same negative view on a civil level.

Now, for altering the standard. Yes, it is indeed true that homosexual marriages are different from what has been the norm for thousands of years. First, though, homosexuality was indeed practiced by older civilizations; it is far from something that has sprung up in the last century or two. For the Greeks and Romans, for example, homosexual relations were not uncommon in the least. The significance that we in our modern societies place on the genders of those involved in relations was not something that existed back then; rather, focus of that degree was more directed to the social classes of those involved, as well as a few other explicit details not needed to be mentioned. Second, though, and more importantly, I see no actual problem with changing a set of standards, regardless of how widespread or long lasting. Indeed, it is something that has been done in our own nation multiple times before--equal rights for women, for example, or the abolishment of slavery, or making torture (cruel and unusual punishment) illegal.

As for same-sex married couples adopting children, I don't see how this is any different from same-sex non-married couples adopting children, something which is legal and practiced. Yes, there are potential problems, but there always will be when trying to just find a new home for someone, regardless of the sexual orientation of the adopting parents.
MikeGarcia

Con

Let me start this round off by saying that I've been watching several of your other debates, and you seem like a very intelligent person. It's a pleasure to be having this conversation with you it is a delightful privilege to be in an environment in which we can peacefully argue out points without having to ridicule each other on personal levels. I've been a part of several other online communities in the past, and they were not so kind. If I ever seem to sound arrogant or dismissive, please remember that voice tone and such can't be detected online as easily as it can when having a face to face conversation. If you feel insulted, I guarantee you, it was not my intention.

Now, on to the topic at hand. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," - words from our founding document as a country, the Declaration of Independence. This phrase is stated in the preamble, which the first sentence reads: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." So the document, as it says, acknowledges that we were endowed these rights by our creator, which is, in some shape or form, God. In this sense, our laws governing the society in general are not derived from mankind, but from God himself. So really, when you say that "stealing, murder, etcetera... are illegal because they infringe upon one's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the unalienable rights so prominent in our nation's founding," you're basically saying that these laws are derived from God. So you're actually validating my point.

I will concede the point you give that Romans and Greeks practiced homosexuality regularly. This is true, historically. However, even in these sometimes lust-driven societies, the homosexual family unit was never accepted as the norm. They practiced the ACT of homosexuality. You're advocating a revamp of the societal structure of marriage, which they never even touched. Sure, homosexual acts were committed, and yes, some very fundamentalist conservative Christians may advocate making homosexuality illegal in the U.S., punishable by years in prison. However, I, and most of those who oppose homosexual marriage, do not argue that homosexuality should be illegal, only that homosexual marriage should be illegal. The Greeks and Romans both recognized marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and any other definition of a family, whether it be a man and man or woman and woman, was considered insane.

You're right, also, in pointing out how the U.S. has always been an advocate for changing norms. The abolition of slavery, womens rights, and the abolition of torture are great advances in U.S. history. However, these are based upon the same phrase we talked about before: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Moral relativism plays no real part in these issues, and essentially, that is what you are arguing for. You say that "same-sex marriages, though morally wrong in God's eyes, should not receive the same negative view on a civil level." Then, I ask, why we should follow the phrase of "life, liberty, and happiness?" Even though slavery, torture, and the oppression of women are wrong in the Christian God's eyes, why should they receive the same negative view on a civil level? It seems as if you're advocating that the government shouldn't have any role in the morality of a society, yet when it comes to other issues, such as the three we discuss above, you believe the government should intervene.

Moral relativism, or the belief that morality is subjective and humans shouldn't judge one another based on their moral compass, was one of the main reasons the Roman Empire fell. If anyone would have proposed homosexual marriage at the beginning of the Sexual Revolution in the '60s, they would've been considered insane. Now, after the effects of the '60s have influenced greatly our openly sexually promiscuous society, homosexual marriage is a very important issue. Ask yourself, what moral value will the secular progressives destroy next? Are we going to let moral relativism destroy the United States as it did the Roman Empire?
Debate Round No. 2
Fenrir

Pro

You make an excellent point in bringing up that the Declaration of Independence mentioned the unalienable rights as being, essentially, God-given. It would seem that the diction of our founding fathers creates a problem for me. However, I think we need to get a full understanding of the origins of unalienable rights to get the entire idea.

Originally termed inalienable rights--John Adams actually changed the single letter before the official creation of the Declaration--they were first introduced by Francis Hutcheson in "A System of Moral Philosophy." They were the rights that people could not give up to a sovereign body, as discussed in matters of social contract, the idea that in order for a government to function the governed must give up some of their rights so that others may be protected. As such, they were really rights that simply could not be taken or given away. To say that these rights were endowed by a Creator is simply an elaboration on the idea that they are -not- rights given by human power--such as a drivers license, which is given to one and grants them the right to drive--and as such can not be infringed upon by humans. Thus, these rights are not necessarily derived from God, and supporting them therefore does not entail validating laws based on subjective morality.

Moving on, then, we can assert the claim that because slavery, torture, etc. are indeed infringing upon these unalienable rights--rights not necessarily derived from God, but simply from being--and thus it is the government's responsibility to prohibit such actions. As for governmental involvement in morality, it is indeed hard to define where the lines can be set. A large part of the problem comes from the fact that even Moral Objectivists--those who believe that there is an absolute right and wrong, and among whom I am numbered--must concede that, in fairness, Moral Relativity must be present in enforcing the law. Thus, the government must find a way to create laws against morally reprehensible actions without unjustly limiting the rights of others, which takes us back to social contract and natural (unalienable) rights. I would say that laws should be--and are usually--dictated by setting limits on the rights of one so that their rights do not impede the rights of others. For example, the traffic laws are set so that one's right to drive does not conflict with the right of another to safety.

As for the Roman Empire, it is true that moral relativism was one of the factors in its demise--however, it was one of many. Political corruptness, lack of necessary scientific progress, unsanitary conditions, neglect of the needy, and unemployment were all also major contributing factors. Thus, I think it would be somewhat unfair to conclude that moral relativism will destroy the United States (whether or not those other factors are present in our nation today, I believe, is a different matter).

Lastly, regarding secular progressivism and the decline or morality. I will agree that it is truly a shame the extent morals have declined, and even worse the acceleration of this decline. However, much of the reason I am troubled by these things is that declining morals correspond directly to the arrival of other problems. Sexual openness, for example, can result in a single mother raising a child, which has been proven to be often be an unstable environment for a child, or can create problems in holding down relationships later in life, leading to marital strife and family problems. However, it is my opinion that homosexual marriages would not produce any negative effects such as these. Homosexual relations are a fact, and are generally socially acceptable. As such, I do not think that granting the right of marriage or civil union to homosexuals would result in any corresponding increase in homosexuality or potential problems one may argue come with it.

And...I guess that's it for my argument. I'd like to thank you for this debate, and everything you said in your first paragraph I could repeat in earnest for you. While I may disagree with your personal opinion on the matter, it is clear that you have thought your position through and have sound reasoning for holding it, and I have infinite respect for that. I really enjoyed doing this, and would love you to debate you again sometime.

Lastly, a VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE for people who will be voting on this debate. Please, I beg of you, -do not- simply vote for one of us because we have the same feelings on same-sex marriage as you. This is not a poll, it is an intellectual competition, and I urge you to please vote for the person who you feel has the strongest argument. Voting for that person does not mean that they are right--it simply means that they were better at defending and supporting their ideas. Mike as made an excellent argument so far, and I trust he will finish in a similar manner, and I would be truly embarassed to find that someone voted for me simply because they believe in same-sex marriage. Thanks!
MikeGarcia

Con

I, too, would like to thank you for a great debate, and I would very much like to debate you in the future as well. Your statement at the end of your post, which talks about voting for the best argument, rather than the side you agree with, is also something I would like to emphasize. You, too, have presented a very well thought out argument, and I will admit I had to do some research in order to refute some of your claims. I'm amazed that I even have time to do so! But in all seriousness, to those of you who are voting on this debate: Vote on the best presented argument, not the side you agree with. I, for one, as a new member, have already voted several times against my position on some issues due to the fact that the opposition simply presented a better argument. This is a wonderful website, and I'm glad I found it. Now, on to the debate!

What you say is true - the founding fathers definitely did not come up with the idea of life, liberty, and happiness on their own. And I would be hard-pressed to argue that the Declaration itself was divinely inspired. While I do believe that God played a role in the formation of the United States (or perhaps our form of democracy in general), I do not believe he used the founding fathers as a proxy for his will. So when you put the statement into context, with respect to the social contract, Hutcheson's "System of Moral Philosophy" seems like it is not necessarily derived from God, but a peaceful state of agreement between man and its government. However, when studying Hutcheson's works, we see that, while not based in religion, his philosophy largely consisted of a "moral sense." Although it could be argued that Hutchison was a moral relativist, his main points were that morality could not be based on reason alone, but whether an action was "amiable or disagreeable" to one's (or a population's) moral compass. His philosophy went on to provide a basis for utilitarianism, which advocates "the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers." With respect to the Judeo-Christian values many American citizens still uphold, homosexual marriage is disagreeable to much of the population's moral sense. So Hutcheson, with respect to this argument, would certainly side with the traditional-marriage argument.

I feel as if we both have gone off on a tangent, however, because you do raise a valid point - "in fairness, moral relativity must be present in enforcing the law." In order to properly address this claim, let us analyze acts that many believe to be immoral but are not illegal. I, for one, do not think it is moral, per se, to be an drunkard, yet I have many friends who drink in excess, and I wouldn't dream of incarcerating any of them (although some of them surely deserve it.) I do not think it is moral to have promiscuous sex, but I still wouldn't want to jail those who choose to do so. I do not think it is moral to abort a baby, at any stage of development, and although I think abortion should be illegal, I do not think it would be wise to imprison those who have abortions. So in some form, you're correct in arguing that in fairness to those who do not subscribe to the moral values you and I may subscribe to, we should not impose our morality upon them.

But where to draw the line? I argue that the line itself has already been drawn, its just that that line is continuously becoming thinner and thinner. Behold - two groups of people, operating on two completely different sets of moral values and standards. To one group, society shouldn't judge drunkards, swingers, or those who have had abortions just because they don't subscribe to traditional morals. To the other group, these acts, although they may be legal, are considered generally unwise and wrong. For instance, I turned on the TV the other day and painfully watched the Maury show as a 15 year old girl bragged about having slept with 80 men in her lifetime. She was not shameful whatsoever, and flaunted her sexual escapades to the crowd. While this is an exaggeration on our society, it shows where our subjective morality has taken us since the 1960s - into the gutter. You yourself concede that sexual openness has resulted in countless single parent households, which are unstable environments in which to raise a child. My point is that society itself, without the aid of the law, can very effectively curb most of what can be considered immoral activity by merely shunning the acts themselves. However, when the acts become socially acceptable to many, as homosexuality and promiscuity has in the past five decades, an equal many of those in society that oppose the these practices are essentially muzzled.

You may be right that homosexual marriages would not result in any more potential problems. As I see it, though, every time we have struck down a traditional moral in the country, since the Sexual Revolution on, societal problems have arisen. If we allow homosexual marriage, I believe polygamy should also be allowed, as well as bestiality. Perhaps child pornography should be allowed as well, if a child, perhaps, could take some sort of exam, proving and agreeing that he or she is capable of realizing the implications of what he or she is doing and is capable of operating in an adult mindset. This would be supervised by a governmental representative to ensure that child abuse is avoided completely. All drugs should be legalized to those who can prove that they are capable of responsibly using them without harming others. In short, with the direction our societal values are going, we should revamp our laws to operate on Mill's "harm principle." If it doesn't harm anyone else, and the parties involved agree to it, it should be allowed. No matter if it is "morally" wrong. Anything - and I mean ANYTHING - should be allowed if the people involved consent to it. Murder, suicide, pedophilia, they should all be allowed in this new form of government.

What I'm proposing is preposterous, of course. But remember, homosexual marriage was considered preposterous, even during the Sexual Revolution. How should our society react if even one of these vile acts were to become socially acceptable years down the road? Should be pur down our guard, conceding to the majority? Or should be fight it? With this new value system, or lack of a value system, in the U.S., ask yourself - where are we headed in the future?
Debate Round No. 3
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by DeKHaole 9 years ago
DeKHaole
It would appear to me that the heart of this debate was lost, rather close to the beginning in fact. As I read, I've witnessed a lot of back and forth about whether or not it is ok to ban gay marriage on the basis of morality, and the origins of morality and other such things... However, an issue that I really wish would have surfaced more, would be the actual ramifications for the potential homosexual married couple. I have read some comments saying "Government should stay out of marriage." Well, although by and large I agree with that statement, there are some benefits that the government gives to married couples. Should gay couples, who have been with each other for years, be denied benefits that come from being legally "married" simply because they are of the same gender. Although I am aware that some people of the same sex who are not homosexual may get "married" just to take advantage of such a system, this does not mean it should not be put into place. Should we completely get rid of social welfare and unemployment simply because some people abuse it? I'd love to hear some discussion about the actual legal ramifications of two homosexuals being married, rather than just the moral implications, for it appears to me that is what we should be paying attention to, that is the real heart of the issue, that is the real reason why homosexuals want the right to be considered "married" by the state.
Posted by clsmooth 9 years ago
clsmooth
Um, no, I don't lose. You lie. You say something is in the Constitution that isn't. You said, "Re-read your Full Faith and Credit Clause" -- I did. What you said was there wasn't.

I don't lose.
Posted by jurist24 9 years ago
jurist24
Well, good for you. You still lose.

Sorry!
Posted by clsmooth 9 years ago
clsmooth
Well, I believe in the Original Intent; not new laws created by the Dictators on the Bench.
Posted by jurist24 9 years ago
jurist24
I am sorry, I should have been more clear. This exception to the Full Faith & Credit Clause is something that has been read into the Constitution by judicial interpretation. I saved you some time and researched a few cases to demonstrate that:

Alaska Packers Assoc. v. Industrial Acc. Com'n (294 US 532)

Griffin v. McCoach (313 US 498)

Clark v. Willard (294 US 211)

Jimenez v. Ford Motor Co. (743 SW2nd 120)
Posted by clsmooth 9 years ago
clsmooth
emmccarty - I agree with you, but a better solution yet would be to simply separate marriage from the state. This would still not please the theocrats, but their true statist natures would be made evident.
Posted by emmccarty 9 years ago
emmccarty
I would like to add to the pro gay marrige persons argument.
The equal protection claus of the Constitution says that all people must be equally protected under the law. This has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean that all people and situations must be treated equally and fairley under the law. Should the NON-RELIGIOUS marrige of a man and a woman and a man and a man be equally protected? Yes! They aren't currently, but they should. They are the same thing. Secular governmental marrige is just a status that two people have where their assets are shared, and blah blah blah. However, most governmental marrige is accompanied by a religous ceremony, but it doesn't have to be. So, if a man and a man want to share their assets, what makes that different than a man and a woman. NOTHING
Posted by clsmooth 9 years ago
clsmooth
jurist - Explain to me how you get that from this:

Article IV, Section 1: "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."

I see no exception for polices that are "offensive" to a given state. Is it elsewhere in the Constitution? Am I not reading the above correctly?

I hope you are right. It would be very convenient to refer gay marriage to the states. I would prefer this. But as I understand the Constitution, it is essentially mandated so long as even one state performs or recognizes any kind of marriage.
Posted by jurist24 9 years ago
jurist24
clsmooth is correct in most respects, except for this one:

"Oops, one more thing: The Constitution mandates that states respect the contracts of other states. Therefore it is unquestionably unconstitutional for there to be a law, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, in which this constitutional mandate is lifted. If anything, an amendment to the Constitution must be passed to give the government this authority."

Re-read your Full Faith and Credit Clause, the portion of the Constitution you reference in the above quote. It goes on to state that such contracts must be honored UNLESS those contracts are offensive to the public policy of the given state. It is on this ground that the DOMA is constitutional.
Posted by Fenrir 9 years ago
Fenrir
More than anything, this country was founded on principles that had arisen during the philosophical enlightenment era, during which time significant ideas such as natural rights and social contract become prevelant.
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