The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 Points

The US federal and state governments should convert all marriages to civil unions.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/19/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,488 times Debate No: 12577
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
Votes (2)




This first round is just to pose background questions, and in no way contains arguments for either side. By the way, this topic is based on a Texas Forensic Association Student Congress bill that will be debated in the Fall. It can be found on under "Congress" and then "Legislation."

The issue of marriage has been contested in many aspects in the United States since its inception, regarding issues of religious choice, number of partners, or gender of partner, among other instances of discontent. Most notably, there has lately been a large-scale movement to settle the differences between "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" and "marriage." This divide, as well as others, was largely crystallized in the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) passed on September 21, 1996.
-DOMA did 2 main things:
1) It defined for federal law that " 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife" (1). This pretty much draws the line for all marriage contentions.
2) It stops the Full Faith and Credit clause from taking effect in in the instance of marriage. The Full Faith and Credit clause (or Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution) says that states have to recognize the "public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State" (for example, a person declared a citizen of Alabama has to declared a citizen in New York too, even if the citizen requirements are different.) (2) However, DOMA (using the Full Faith and Credit clause's rhetoric) declared that "No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship." (1) Therefore, even if one state enacts same-sex marriage legislation and a same-sex couple is married there, they do not have to be declared "married" if they visit another state. This requires each and every state to independently legalize same-sex marriage.

==This Debate==
The Pro suggests an unusual approach to the divide: that the US federal and state governments convert all "marriage" related statutes, documents, and related privileges to "civil union," and allow marriage to be a religious observance only.

==The Rest of Round 1==
The Con is free to post any background information that he or she feels necessary to start the audience thinking on the subject, although I ask that the information not include any arguments to persuade any to either side. The arguments will start in Round 2. I welcome any and all arguments, in whatever political, moral or social spectrum they may lie; as long as the Con's arguments are aligned with the goal of proving that the US federal and state governments should NOT do this.

1) (which is the actual bill from the Library of Congress; I invite everyone to read it. It's like one page.)
3) (This website tracks laws and litigation on DOMA, including a recent federal ruling which may make its way to the Supreme Court this year that declares DOMA unconstitutional.)


Thank you for selecting me for the debate.

I believe that your definition of marriage is all wrong. I believe marriage can be gay/lesbian. As I find the definition is two individuals that unites legally, economocally and emoctional. You are spending your time looking at historical events when it is a matter of georgraphical events aswell as historical. If you want to convert all marriages to civil unions they will be alot of stress on managing the people who are already married. There could be a simpler way to arrange this then to convert all marriages you could just update the meaning in the US. If they were to convert all marriages the people who are married now could take years to deal with delaying the conversion anyway.
Debate Round No. 1


Ninja_Tru forfeited this round.


xoxoJenniferxoxo forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


== Some Comments==
Interesting, I had considered the possibility that the Con would argue that we should instead legalize same-sex marriage. I had asked that no arguments be made in the Round 1, but since they were made they can and will be used against the Con in this court of.... debate. I will now argue not only why converting all marriages to civil unions is a good thing, but also why it is better than converting all civil unions to marriages. Also, I'm sorry that I missed the deadline for the second round. I have hopes that there will still be enough time for a constructive debate.

== The Pro's Case==

First, by converting all marriages to civil unions, the state and federal governments are ensuring equal treatment under the law for the LGBTQ, bigamy, and other excluded groups.
-Initially, the status quo divide between marriage and civil unions is detrimental to the 14th Amendment's promises found in the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses. The US Government Accountability Office wrote in a report in 2004 that their "research identified a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges." (1) Those are 1,138 ways that the government treats married individuals better than civilly united ones, something that can no way be legally condoned.
-But furthermore, the marriage/civil union divide has an inherent inequality that can not be repaired. Misha Issak of the Journal of Constitutional Law wrote on March 2008 that "Although civil unions provide most of marriage's 'tangible benefits'--easily recognized, state-conferred rights and privileges--they fail to provide marriage's intangible benefits, such as esteem, self-definition, and the stabilizing influence of social expectations. Although these benefits may be less concrete than, say, tax exemptions, they are no less constitutionally significant. Furthermore, reviving the tangible-intangible distinction violates the equal protection principle announced in Brown v. Board of Education that 'separate but equal' institutions, especially those that brand a particular class with a badge of inferiority, are inherently unequal."
-Therefore, let it stand that the status quo is morally and constitutionally unsustainable; as long as this and other marriage divides tosses individuals and couples away from the equality promised by US law, the Constitution will leak the impartial blood given to it when it was born. So, everyone must be treated under the same institution.

== The Meat of the Debate==

Now that that's settled, the next two points will be about why the government should recognize all civil unions instead of all marriages.

1. This will solve much more than the same-sex marriage issue. The US Supreme Court case Reynolds v. US in 1879 still applies today in outlawing bigamy. (3) Reynolds and his defense attorneys argued that the First Amendment protected their Mormon beliefs on marriage. Instead, the court denied his claims and wrote that "it is impossible to believe that the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom was intended to prohibit legislation in respect to this most important feature of social life. Marriage, while from its very nature a sacred obligation, is nevertheless, in most civilized nations, a civil contract, and usually regulated by law." (4) Rulings such as these have spread the government's power over marriage in all directions, from gender of partner to number of partner to simply the name of the practice itself which was initially a Western choice stemming from Latin. Converting all US law to civil unions will immediately end any conflicts in those realms, while legalizing same-sex marriage will solve one area and require separate political and social movements to solve the others. This is your standard feed two birds with one scone argument, meaning the resolution will outweigh at least 2 to 1.

2. This promotes the separation of church and state. As was seen in the Reynolds v. US ruling quoted above, governments have for some time and since British common law been jumping the gap of marriage between a religious and sacred union to a legal and civil union. This overarching has never been confronted but should be immediately. By allowing the government to recognize only civil unions, it will only be allowed to treat it as the legal and civil half and will leave the rest up to individual churches to recognize. No bright line could be more clear on separating religious activity from political activity, and legalizing same-sex marriage would unfortunately compound that.

== Some comments on the Con's arguments==

This resolution would in no way invalidate or negate the movement for LGBTQ marriages; it would only require that the government stay out of the religious debate in which it should have no jurisdiction. Consequently, the movement would probably concentrate its efforts at asking individual church sects to permit same-sex marriage, which would probably sadly be a difficult climb but also the only way it would be legalized in the status quo anyway. Therefore, this resolution does not conflict with a gay/lesbian marriage.

Also, even if the conversion were to take years, it would be a necessary delay. The benefits are worth the time waiting. Even if they weren't, this argument isn't uniquely damaging to the Pro; legalizing same-sex marriage would also "take years with delaying the conversion anyway" since all current civil unions and domestic partnerships would have to be converted to marriages.

I'm interested in hearing more about how marriages are a matter of "geographical" events, by the way. I hope the Con'll explain that further in your next set of arguments.

== Conclusion==

Therefore, those two reasons are why the government should convert all marriages to civil unions. I wait to hear the Con's reply.

4) Edward W. Knappman, Editor. "Great American Trials." Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994. P. 185.


xoxoJenniferxoxo forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Well, this debate hardly went like I wanted it to. I detest over-kill, so I will only summarize my main points a final time, and wish the Con luck.

== The Pro's case==

The current system is morally and constitutionally unsustainable; several instances prove that marriages and civil unions can not exist alongside each other. Therefore, we must make a change and convert all marriages to civil unions because it would solve this divide.

Converting all marriages to civil unions is better than legalizing same-sex marriage for two main reasons.

1. This instantly solves all marriage issues, including bigamy and religious conflicts, in one fell swoop. Only one political movement is necessary to accomplish this, while several movements would be required to solve all problems with marriage.

2. This separates the government from the religious aspect of marriage, something that should have been done long ago. Only churches and other religious institutions will recognize the sacred part of marriage; the government will recognize the legal part of it.

== Just in Case==

To quell any possible revulsion, this resolution is not against same-sex marriage; it's only against the government recognizing all forms of marriage. Several churches and states already recognize same-sex marriage, and they would continue to recognize them post-resolution. Political movements for same-sex marriage would in the future be directed to individual religious sects.

== End Game==

Good luck, Con. Thanks to her and to the voters.


xoxoJenniferxoxo forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Ninja_Tru 7 years ago
Hmm, midgetjoe brings up a good point about whether or not this proposal's conservative, but I disagree. First, I feel it's necessary to clarify the difference between traditionalist/progressive and conservative/liberal. Traditionalists have been opposed to change through the government, while progressives seek to increase or re-interpret the powers of government or rights of individuals and enact legislation to solve issues. The liberal/conservative divide is something someone else can handle if they want. Most importantly, it should be noted that both liberals and conservatives can be progressive/traditionalist. For example, the Progressive Era saw some conservative things like Prohibition and the criminalization of prostitution. Some liberal progressive things include the Miranda rights and the Civil Rights Act.

So, I'd say that DOMA was generally a conservative/progressive act (because it was setting some standards on a social activity which is generally a conservative thing to do and it was increasing the government's power to regulate that social activity which is generally progressive), and that my proposal is generally a liberal/progressive act (bc it limits restraints on social activities which is generally liberal and is changing a long-standing government institution which is generally progressive). The Con's area of argument lies a lot in the traditionalist/conservative field, but that's not set in stone.

And to JustCallMeTarzan, I wouldn't mind a constitutionality debate. Just make sure you're packing a lot of guns if you take that route.
Posted by Valtarov 7 years ago
I actually think that this is a pretty good idea. Not perfect, but good.
Posted by midgetjoe 7 years ago
The founders were not liberals based on today's definitions. And this proposition is conservative because it promotes an idea as originally intended by the constitution. In fact the fact that marriage is government controled at all is due to liberal policies. BAck in the early 1900's it was put inplace because tax increases had gotten to a point where they felt a discount was nessecary for married people. Had the income tax not been unconstitutionally implemented in the first place than there would have been no need (at the time at least) to give government control over marriage.
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 7 years ago
However the founders were liberals, this is a liberal proposal. It allows for same sex marriage and for complete freedom of religion at the same time.
Posted by midgetjoe 7 years ago
Just for clarification.....the PRO side of this arguement is the real conservative position. As it is the constitutional one, true conservative's positions are alwasy to "conserve" the constitution and the original intent of the founders. As oppossed to liberals or "progressives" who want to add or change things. Incidently it is also the Christian point of view as Christianity teachs that marraige is done by God, the mere concept of the government doing or enforcing it is anti christian.

The con side is however NEOConservative or big R Republicans. Coincidently it can also be a liberal side for those progressives who want to seize control of marraige from religous groups and give more power to the government, and for those who want a gay "marraige" as opposed to civil union and are hung up on definitions.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 7 years ago
Con's easy win:

The US Government should NOT convert all marriages to civil unions because to do so, they would have to first dissolve the contracts of marriage that are already in place. Doing so would in effect pass an ex-post-facto law, which is unconstitutional.
Posted by Ninja_Tru 7 years ago
Cody_Franklin, you can do any argument that says the US federal and state governments shouldn't do this. Maybe you can offer some other action we should take instead, something that would be an opportunity cost? Or, you could be more specific to what branch or governments or group of people should do it alone; that might be convincing. Or status quo, maybe this change would have unintended effects on society in some fashion. Or, something else I haven't yet thought of.

I guess theLwerd is right though, I may have unfairly restricted the Con's options to mostly conservative ones. Sorry for that, the rule of thumb I use for viewing what a "good debate" is is that it allow good arguments for both sides, which I overlooked here. Sorry again, but I really liked the idea and wanted to throw in a debate on DDO that was future-oriented, versus some of the past-oriented "this guy was good or sucked" or present-oriented "this person is dumb or this religion is great."
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
Agree with PRO, except that I don't think that the government should license unions either. I most certainly support this amendment.
Posted by Cody_Franklin 7 years ago
If I were to take Con, would I be forced into arguing status quo?
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
This is a pretty perfect idea, yet those in government (and some on ddo) are still against it. However I noticed that debates like this often go completely ignored; nobody wants to debate the conservative end -- even though they themselves might hold conservative views. Arguing against gay marriage is a lot easier than arguing against this resolution. I think the fact that nobody wants to (or probably will) accept this debate means they concede that this is the proper thing to do. If someone is against this but cant/won't debate it then I'd have an even lower opinion of them.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Countering admitted Votebomb by Izbo
Vote Placed by izbo10 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I didn't really read the debate, but then again neither does ninja before he votes, so i think he should lose a debate based on my vote as he did to me.