The Instigator
veilofignorance
Pro (for)
Winning
24 Points
The Contender
aremisasling
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The government should stay out of marriage altogether.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,105 times Debate No: 723
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (8)

 

veilofignorance

Pro

Why should the government recognize only heterosexual marriage? Arguments that the purpose of marriage is ______ (e.g., procreation, Bible, what is natural, &c.) do not work because they are entirely arbitrary; moreover, counterexamples can be found for any of these purposes, such as infertile couples (for PROCREATION), alternate religions (for BIBLE), historical/natural cases of other sexual orientations (for NATURAL), and the like. The teleological argument, the one most commonly used to justify heterosexual marriage alone, does not work.

At the same time, what argument justifies state recognition solely of heterosexual and homosexual marriage? That these two orientations predominate society is, once again, completely arbitrary and unsuitable for the law. Consent can be established just as easily for incest, polygamy, arguably even bestiality. Unless one wants to recognize these other kinds of marriages, one must support the view that the state should just separate itself from the institution of marriage.

The arguments to the contrary must draw a line somewhere, a line that is completely subjective and, like any other personal opinion or "comfort zone," deserves no place in the law.
aremisasling

Con

I think that the various advantages given to married couples, particularly inheritance and visitation, are justifications of state sponsored marriage. Without some form of legal recognition of the union between two individuals (or more if you support multiple marriages), these benefits would at best be very difficult to administer and at worst impossible to offer. Though visitation and inheritance could be argued to be technically unnecessary, the vast majority of people worldwide are likely to support those rights for spouses. If you disagree I would like to hear an argument for how such a system would work.

I can agree that perhaps defining it as a Civil Union instead of a Marriage may allay some fears in many nations and would certainly more cleanly define the duties of the state vs the duties of religion. But renaming the problem doesn't resolve the issues you've brought up. The slippery slope situations will likely always be a matter of public debate and perhaps in some cases should. Polygamy, and to a certain degree incest, while largely unacceptable in this nation, are accepted in many places as valid relationships so that is a problem that would remain unresolved.

But the snowball stops with humans. I have argued in comments elsewhere that the justification for human-animal or human-object marriages is not on the same level. The non-human 'partner' would be unable, in this case, to demonstrate consent. They would also not be able to demonstrate the faculties necessary to receive the legal benefits of marriage. If a dog, for instance, was able to demonstrate informed consent to marry and was able to demonstrate the faculties necessary to receive the legal benefits of marriage, you would likely have more than just myself to contend with on the topic in the same way that interracial marriages were allowed though at one horrid point in time, some minorities were considered high-functioning non-human animals. But since that isn't the case in any animal we know of, the concern is decidedly without merit.

Aremis
Debate Round No. 1
veilofignorance

Pro

Aremis,

All I said was that the government cannot recognize certain types of consensual partnerships without recognizing others, unless it sets an arbitrary definition of what such partnerships are legitimate – a subjective distinction with no just place in the law. Whether these partnerships are termed "Marriages" or "Civil Unions," and whether consent can or cannot be demonstrated in the case of bestiality, are moot points (though I happen to agree with you on both).

As for the provision of rights such as inheritance and visitation – and I won't argue that these rights are unnecessary – why must the legal vehicle be marriage? Under this nation's current legal framework, one may grant these rights to anyone; for instance, many people choose to include close friends in their wills. If, in a state without marriage, the equivalent of a couple wanted these rights, it could undoubtedly secure them by a separate legal process.

In any case, if you think marriage is essential to the administration of these rights, then how do you justify marriage for one consenting partnership but not another?
aremisasling

Con

This site is particularly guilty of people posting debate topics then in round two pulling out all sorts of things that really should have been in the initial argument. I was bringing up the civil union thing just to avoid wasting rounds redefining the argument in case that was what you were planning on bringing up. I know it's not a classical debate method, but it's sometimes necessary when not everyone has the same idea of debate.

Since you didn't give a functional method for your proposed system to work, I'll give you a worksheet to build the argument from.

I think the legal vehicle binding one person to another is an effective way of more efficiently assigning those rights. As a database administrator I can say from experience that administrating rights to individual users piece by piece is technically feasible, but totally unmanageable in reality. If we didn't have assigned roles, my company, for one, would grind to a screeching halt. In the case of custody, every time a couple had a child they would have to sign joint custody papers. You could potentially make an agreement doing that by default for all future children. But you would also have to have separate forms allowing for:

visitation rights
power of attorney
immigration rights
jointly owned assets
family insurance plans (health, vehicle, home owner, etc)
inheritance
right to wrongful death benefits
spousal privelage
retirement assets (pensions, social security, etc)
bereavement/sick leave to care for spouse
marriage rights when traveling
change of last name (not impossible, but easier with marriage)
and child support

among others, and that doesn't even cover benefits given by non-government organizations that would essentially immediately become impossible to offer. In my city there is a Sports Center, for instance, that allows for family plans. Without a legal definition for marriage how would we prove that it is, indeed, a family? Custody of the kids? Jointly owned house? How would this be any less of an arbitrary system than marriage currently is?

Also, each benefit would be subject to its own laws and regulations that would have to be proven in each case as if these were two unconnected private individuals entering into a contract. And what if congress still decides that spousal visitation isn't permitted between two members of the same gender? How does this make the line any more well-defined? It still doesn't solve the problem of the double standard. If anything it just makes the gray area less like a fuzzy line and more like a fuzzy sailor's knot.

We could pass legislation that would unify the grounds on which these forms would be accepted or denied. And the more of the above privileges we allow to be elected on one form, the more it starts to sound like marriage with extra paperwork.

We could also make some method of combining elected benefits without directly specifying that each and every one of the benefits would necessarily have to be included like a series of checkboxes. And if we did, I bet even fewer couples would stay together. Picture John Doe checking everything but pension benefits. It'd be like a forced prenup. Admittedly, the resulting preemptively failed marriages would solve a lot of our overpopulation woes with all the folks saving themselves for marriage, but I think the cons outweigh the pros here.

Aremis
Debate Round No. 2
veilofignorance

Pro

Aremis,

You still have not responded to my opening argument: selective recognition of only certain types of consensual partnerships is arbitrary and unfit for the law, so government must recognize all of them (which would assuredly be the most complicated in practice) or not recognize any. The "various advantages given to married couples," or that marriage is "an effective way of more efficiently assigning those rights" – in short, any effects-based argument – cannot justify state recognition of marriage, if that recognition is arbitrarily discriminatory and thus intrinsically wrong. Before continuing with your argument that marriage is logistically convenient, it is in your best interest to address my initial point.

Yet even the notion that marriage is useful in the administration of certain privileges is flawed. People could just get married outside the law and then register with the government for the same rights that married couples, or anyone else (as in my inheritance example), can obtain under our current system – but without a label like "marriage" or "civil union," which is much of the problem. You don't really say how the cons outweigh the pros in your example where "unconnected private individuals [enter] into a contract . . . combining elected benefits without directly specifying that each and every one of the benefits would have to be included," which basically amounts to giving "married" couples/families more choice in what rights they would like to have. First, this is only more complicated at the time of marriage, as rights having been agreed upon are much easier to enforce later (for instance, in divorces). Second, it would yield many societal benefits like the ones you mentioned. Third, most importantly, wouldn't most people prefer having this choice?

Lastly, I just want to emphasize again that this argument about the practical consequences of recognizing marriage means nothing if state recognition of marriage is inherently unjust. Thanks, Aremis, for the provocative discussion.
aremisasling

Con

If all you want is someone to give you a line where marriage should no longer be acceptable, I already have. I'd say between a human of any gender and anything that is incapable of demonstrating consent to marry (pedophilia, bestality). I think that is a fairly sound framework that would hold up in court since it already does in the case of pedophilia, and actually in some cases bestiality.

That's why nationwide it's illegal to have sex with children and in many (not all primarily because it doesn't happen that often) states it's illegal to engage in sex with animals, no consent. Before that line I don't see why it shouldn't be allowed. You want to marry three wives and two husbands? I don't see why not as long as all six of you are up to the challenge and willing to sign the papers. I apologize for the tone, but I feel that I made the case already in round 1. The largest and most detailed paragraph was devoted to delivering precisely what you had asked for in your round one. The argument removes both the problem of an undefined line as well as the problem of discrimination. I don't think many people would argue that marriage to children or dogs or petunias is unjustifiably discriminatory toward any of them. We don't let any of them vote, have sex, or buy cigarettes as it is.

I thought the continuation of the argument useful because I could draw a reasonable line that WOULD solve the problem, which you didn't disagree with in round 2, and could also show that your proposal WOULD NOT solve the problem. The resulting conclusion could only be that marriage does not have to be discriminating beyond the point of reason and that it is far more reasonable than any alternative proposal.

The only clean way out of this is to say that marital benefits are entirely unnecessary and therefore avoid the problem of an arbitrary line entirely. That would have been a reasonable argument and I would have graciously conceded defeat on the purest conceptual level. However again on the practical level, though moot to the conceptual argument, it would be entirely unimplementable. Even the strictist atheistic communist regimes out there, which ban religious practice altogether, provide a framework deliniating rights and responsibilities married persons.

Aremis
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by aznmaster2400 9 years ago
aznmaster2400
1. But don't the rights that automatically come with state recognition of marriage, e.g. tax deductions, education, etc., encourage sex/having children? (for arg. below)

2. In your final post, I don't think you're effectively drawing a line with consent, since PRO seems to suggest it's all or nothing already WITHIN the range of consensual partnerships. And if it's "all," as PRO said, it would be more complicated; polygamy (or multiply linked polygamist families) + one divorce = property rights mayhem, if not everything must be decided beforehand, and besides, on a conceptual level, consent itself is really hard to determine and under the current system totally arbitrary – is someone really under age one moment and of age the next, same age for everyone? Better just to let people themselves determine what they want in terms of marriage, since it harms no one. Well done, PRO.
Posted by aremisasling 9 years ago
aremisasling
The vote is not for sex, it's for marriage. I support the idea of Civil Union, personally, and given that the couple never procreates, I don't see the harm in it. If you have some way of showing that to be anything other than a cultural or religious issue, then please feel free to object. If not, read PRO's arguments a little more carefully.

By PRO's own contention, the system he suggests would allow rights for incestual couples precisely because the government would not be allowed to decide if it's a legitimate relationship or not. It would simply be a legal contract between two parties.

Besides, just because you believe it to be wrong, doesn't mean it shouldn't be allowed which is why the government should have nothing to do with the decision. It's precisely the argument he is making from round 1 to the end.

If PRO wins because I don't expressly prohibit incest (or any other partner preference for that matter), it will not only be unrelated to either PRO's argument or my own, but based completely on a false premise that somehow his system limits them any more than I do.

Aremis
Posted by philosophile70 9 years ago
philosophile70
a "yes" for incest, too, aremis?
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