The Instigator
Contradiction
Pro (for)
Winning
34 Points
The Contender
HonestDiscussioner
Con (against)
Losing
33 Points

There Are Good Secular Reasons to Disallow Same-Sex Marriage

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Post Voting Period
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after 16 votes the winner is...
Contradiction
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/15/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 18,857 times Debate No: 33756
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (211)
Votes (16)

 

Contradiction

Pro

HonestDiscussioner and I have agreed on terms. I will launch immediately into my opening statement.

~

The state regulates marriage for a reason. It dispenses benefits for a reason. Understanding what this reason is will tell us what criteria are and are not relevant to marriage, and thus whether any rights are being denied. If the state excludes same-sex couples from entering into legal marriages on the basis of criteria relevant to the public purpose of marriage, then it is clear that no rights or benefits are being denied to them; for it is not unjust to deny a group a right that they do not deserve. Our answer to questions relating to the level of scrutiny, suspect classification, and fundamental rights will depend on what this reason is, as it provides a standard from which the debate can be framed.

This reason, whatever it is, must advance a public purpose. Social institutions are afforded legal recognition and protection in virtue of their being purposed toward some good which benefits society as a whole. There must be something intrinsic to a certain kind of relationship that bears on the common good for there to be a legitimate state interest in regulating it. Private relationships with no such purpose do not deserve legal recognition. The state has no right – and arguably an obligation not to – recognize private institutions as public; public institutions should be treated as public and private institutions as private. Determining whether an institution is public or private requires knowledge of its purposes and kind. A private institution may at times happen to accidentally benefit a public good, but it is not coordinated to this as an end. As such, it remains private in virtue of what it is ordered to by nature. Thus, kind-membership is relevant in determining the legal status of a particular relationship.

What is Marriage?

In order to discern why marriage is afforded legal recognition, we first need to know what marriage is. So what is marriage? Here is one popular answer: Marriage is the lifelong union of two persons who love each other. [1] Marriage functions as a way of publicly acknowledging one’s love and commitment for their spouse. Because same-sex couples are capable of loving in the same way as everyone else, the law ought to make provisions for recognizing their unions as legal marriages.

I don’t have anything against love. Love is essential for a marriage to flourish in the way that it should, but love alone cannot be sufficient for legal recognition. For one, not every loving relationship is afforded legal recognition. There are many different kinds of valuable social relationships that are simply not relevant to the public good in the way that marriage is. Companionships, for example, involve love, but nobody is calling for the government to legally recognize friendships. Love certainly motivates a couple to enter into marriage, but it is mistaken to think that marriage is essentially about love.

Moreover, what public purpose would legally recognizing a loving relationship serve? Love is an essentially private matter that concerns only those people in a relationship. The state has no business poking around in this domain of life, since the state exists to regulate public goods and institutions. Some bring up the various benefits and incentives already associated with marriage as a reason to legalize same-sex relationships. According to this argument, same-sex unions should be afforded legal recognition in order to take advantage of the benefits that opposite-sex couples currently enjoy. But this is question-begging. Why should anyone deserve these benefits to begin with? It cannot be because they love each other, since that’s the very issue at stake.


Let me propose what I think is a better answer: Marriage is a comprehensive union with a special link to children. [2] It is a private union with a public purpose. Private in that comprehensive union exemplifies the love of the spouses. Public in that their comprehensive union is directed toward a purpose beyond the love of the spouses: children.

Marriage is a comprehensive relationship. It is different in kind from a friendship or partnership in which the respective parties are bound together merely by a common interest. It is something much deeper than that – a relationship in which both parties are joined together by an element of their humanity. Their union is real, not imagined or constructed. But in what sense are they united? Consider the various parts of a plane – the engines, wings, and avionics. What unites all of these parts together into a single whole is their coordination toward a common end: flight. Unity is thus achieved by mutual striving toward a single goal. Similarly, on this (conjugal) view of marriage, unity is achieved when the bodies of both spouses biologically coordinate toward a common goal. This involves more than just a mere coming together of bodies, as bodies come together all the time in surgery, contact sports, large crowds, and the performing arts. Their bodies must strive together to fulfill a common goal that neither individual can fulfill on their own. This common goal is none other than procreation, the only biological function with respect to which everyone is inherently incomplete. Marriage completes this by uniting both spouses in the context of the sexual act. This union is reflected in the creation of children who bear the marks of both their mother and father. The nature of comprehensive marital union is such that it can only be achieved by one man and one woman. The bodies of two men or two women can never be deeply united in the way which marriage demands, for within the context of a same-sex relationship, their sexual organs necessarily fail to work together for a common end. On this point, the use of artificial reproductive technology is irrelevant, since their type of relationship lacks an intrinsic link to children.

The state regulates marriage because it has an interest in children. Marriage produces and cultivates the development of future citizens within a family unit held together by norms of fidelity, monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence. The flourishing of children is directly connected with the public good. The state incentivizes marriage both because it recognizes child-rearing to be a difficult task and because it wants to encourage men and women to form family units. The claim isn’t that you need to be married to have children, it is that marriage is oriented toward child well-being in a way that other sexual relationships are not.


Infertile Couples?

Of course, not all married couples have children; some are infertile. Nevertheless, all married couples of the opposite sex – infertile or not – are still capable of engaging in the kind of act which unites them comprehensively. They are still of a procreative type even if not all members of that kind can act on its characteristic effects. Their union is still ordered toward procreation as an end in the same way that a blind eye remains an eye in virtue of the kind of thing it is. The state still takes an interest in infertile/childless marriages because it wants to promote a view of marriage as it really is, not just as a means to an end.

Interracial Marriage?

It will not work to compare same-sex marriage to interracial marriage, for the analogy assumes without justification that there is no relevant difference between race and gender. How does it follow that because race is irrelevant to entering into a legal marriage, that therefore gender is also irrelevant? There must again be an independent argument to support the parallel between race and gender, otherwise one begs the question.


The resolution stands affirmed.


SOURCES

1. John Corvino, "The Case for Same-Sex Marriage" in Gallagher and Corvino (eds), Debating Same-Sex Marriage (OUP: 2012)
2. Sherif
Girgis, Robert P. George, and Ryan T. Anderson, “What is Marriage?” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 34:1 (2010)


HonestDiscussioner

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for engaging in this debate with me. It has been a long time since I've done one of these & I'm greatly looking forward to a passionate yet amiable discourse on what has proved to be a very hot button issue of the past decade.

Now let's see if Pro's arguments hold up to philosophical muster. I believe my opponent runs into a problem in the very first sentence of his argument:

"The state regulates marriage for a reason."

What this first (and many of the following) sentence contains is a huge (false) assumption, this being that there is only one reason the state regulates marriage. By stating there is a single reason for regulating marriage, this sets up Pro to then define what that reason is & show how that reason does not apply to homosexual couples. This is fallacious reasoning, for Pro in order to argue that the State should not implement gay marriage, Pro would have to demonstrate that all benefits that marriage brings to society do not occur within gay marriage. Of course, the burden to show these benefits rests on me, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go over a few other problems in Pro's argument.

The single reason my opponent *asserts* the State regulates marriage is for the purpose of procreation. The way he does this is interesting, which is to define marriage as "a comprehensive union with a special link to *children*." (asterisk emphasis mine) Now I don't necessarily agree with this definition, but for the moment I am willing to work with it, as it does not lead to my opponent's intended conclusion.

Once he establishes this as the definition, he goes on to list several reasons why this procreative link to marriage does not apply to homosexuals, listing the obvious fact that currently a homosexual couple cannot procreate between the two of them, & insisting that even if they could through the use of technology, that still wouldn't change anything as there isn't an implicit link between procreation & their coupling.

What is possibly my opponent's biggest problem is that he randomly jumped from marriage being a link to children, to marriage being a link to creating children. We must also consider part of the State's interest in children extends to how they are raised, unless my opponent is willing to argue that the State's interest in marriage is only to encourage people to have babies, but once they have been born said interest ends. We know that is not the case, however, for even my opponent admits this:

"The state incentivizes marriage both because it recognizes child-rearing to be a difficult task & because it wants to encourage men & women to form family units."

My opponent admits that the rearing of children is important for the state to incentivize, & yet he gives no reason why the state should not incentivize homosexual couples from raising children. Certainly he gives reasons why they cannot create children, but just because may be unable to build a car does not mean I lack the skills to operate or take care of one. Procreation & child-rearing are in fact two separate issues that my opponent has attempted to merge into one.

Now I'm sure my opponent, if he so chose, could come up with a plethora of studies that advocate that children raised by homosexual couples are not raised as well as those raised by two straight parents. I'm also sure we could have a grand time going over all the reasons why those studies are inaccurate or poorly designed, & rehash all of the other studies that show no difference whatsoever between the two. Thankfully, mercifully, we needn't be burdened with that, for whether or not homosexual couples are as good a parenting unit as straight couples is irrelevant, since the argument is not whether we should take kids away from straight couples & give them to gay couples. The only relative factor is whether or not children are better off with homosexual couples compared to orphanages & foster care. I sincerely hope we won't be hearing any arguments that children are better off in foster care than with a loving homosexual couple, but I will be prepared to argue against that position if need be. Otherwise, the sentence I quoted above easily applies to homosexual couples forming family units as well.

We've already seen that there are at least two benefits to the State regulating marriage, procreation & child-rearing. I have argued that the one benefit does indeed apply to homosexuals, however there is nothing to say that the benefits to marriage must only fall under those two categories. Hammers are intended for driving nails into other objects, as well as pulling them out, but nothing compels us to relegate hammers to only those two uses. Should we discover a new use for a hammer, the fact we have previously not conceived of this use should not dissuade us for utilizing it in the new fashion. Thus, should I list additional societal benefits to marriage that Pro has not previous considered, ones that are worth the cost of regulating marriage, then Pro's argument fails in an additional manner. I shall now list these additional benefits.

Understand that we are discussing societal health here. The State's interest is towards the collective of citizens under its care, & the individual health (mental, physical, emotional) of the citizens affects the whole of the society. Does marriage have a role to play in this? Certainly.

Here are some of the direct benefits:

Married adults are more likely to live longer, healthier lives, & to suffer from less psychological distress [1]

Married adults have more flexible lifestyles that apply benefits to both work & social life. [1]

Married adults are less likely to smoke, drink heavily, or be physically inactive [1]

Married adults are less likely to have health problems compared to cohabitating couples. [1]

Married people are less likely to be depressed, more likely to be happy. [2]

Married individuals are less likely to be the victims of violent crime [3][4]

Married individuals are more likely to monitor each others' health compared to cohabitating couples.

Those are merely some of the direct benefits of marriage, & it took me mere seconds to find them on google, without directly looking through scientific literature. If my opponent is still unimpressed, I'd be happy to do into further detail as to why it is a good thing to be married even if the marriage will have nothing to do with children. Thus, the State has a vested interest in incentivizing marriage between homosexual couples even if they have no intentions of adopting.

To recap, the benefits to marriage are not as narrow as my opponent claims, & those additional benefits which my opponent had not considered are strong enough for the state to have a vested interest in incentivizing them. Even without those additional benefits, Pro's very own definition still involves a great societal benefit to incentivizing gay marriage, that being promoting adoption & the creation of family units centered around homosexual couples. Unless Pro can both show that children are better off in foster care than with a gay couple & show that the well understood social benefits to marriage don't actually exist, then Pro's argument fails.

One last comment. Pro mentioned that if we developed artificial reproductive technology where two men could combine their DNA to make a baby, it would be irrelevant because their relationship lacks an intrinsic link to childen. Yet, my opponent gives no reason why the link must be intrinsic. If homosexual couples are able to have children, artificial or otherwise, why should the state not incentivize that? Are artificial children less valuable?

I argue that Pro's argument does not stand on any of its necessary points.

[1] http://www.cdc.gov...

[2] Miller-Tutzauer et al, 1991

[3] Kellerman, 1994

[4] Bachman, 1994

[5] Clarkberg, 1995
Debate Round No. 1
Contradiction

Pro

My thanks to HonestDiscussioner for his cordial response. I encourage viewers to carefully read through both my OP and rebuttal.

The Procreation Argument Unfazed

Why does the government regulate marriage? As I argued initially, the government is interested in marriage because it is interested in children. My opponent responds by noting that homosexuals are also able to contribute to child-well being even if they cannot, strictly speaking, create children. He notes that the state's interest extends to cultivating child development, a purpose which homosexuals are capable of acheiving.


This response relies on a misunderstanding of my argument. Certainly there are many different types of social arrangements are capable of raising children, homosexual relationships being one of them; but only marriage is specifically ordered to family life in general in virtue of gender complimentarity. As I argued, same-sex couples are unable to unite comprehensively and thus do not share this dynamic orientation to family life. Earlier I made the point that only those relationships which are intrinsically ordered to family life are deserving of state recognition -- hence my comment about why kind membership is relevant to legal status. Man-woman marriage has an intrinsic public purpose that other types of social relationships lack.

Plenty of social relationships are indeed capable of raising children in a broad sense -- be it two homosexuals, a triad of three people, a group of nuns or fraternity brothers. But only a union of a man and woman bound together by norms of fidelity, monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence are ordered toward both toward family life in general as a proper end. This unique orientation to the public good is why the law privileges marriage. Other relationships might mimic some of the functions of marriage, but they remain private unions lacking a public purpose. My opponent's analogy of a hammer that functions in socially useful ways apart from its purpose, is mistaken for this reason. A major part of my opening argument was that the state ought to regulate social institutions based on their kind-membership and purpose, not accidentally useful functions which they may happen to mimic. My opponent has thusfar failed to respond to this argument.

Hence, the state's interest in children does indeed extend to child development, but only in connection with a type of union apt for producing them. It is a mistake to seperate the two.

Benefits: A Question-Begging Argument

A benefit is not the same thing as a sufficient reason. There are, as my opponent points out, many benefits associated with marriage; but not all of them act as reasons to justify state involvement. Indeed, I don't deny that same-sex couples may be benefited if allowed to marry; the more important issue should be over whether these benefits are deserved — that is to say, whether same-sex couples have a right to them. It would be absurd to suggest that the government has a duty to give you something simply because it benefits you. These benefits must be the subject of a right to justify the state's involvement.

The very issue at stake is whether the government's public rationale for dispensing these benefits can be extended to include same-sex couples. To assert that they are being unjustly denied these benefits is to assume that they deserve these benefits to begin with. This is an assumption that requires independent arguments. My opponent has thus begged the question, for he has not provided independent warrant for thinking that same-sex couples should be given these benefits.

Of course, in order to determine just which social arrangements are deserving of the benefits associated with marriage, we must first make an inquiry into what marriage is and why it matters. This is a challenge my opponent has not met. Showing that same-sex couples will benefit does not answer the normative question of whether they should benefit.

Same-sex relationships may have their own unique goods specific to their kind of union, but they are not relevant to legal recognition in the way that conjugal unions are. Their relationships do not bear on the common good in a way that merits legal recognition.

Why Kind-Membership is Relevant (Again)

Given that my argument relies heavily on the relevance of kind-membership to public policy formation, it is worth reiterating (and adding to) some of the points I made earlier. Contrary to what my opponent has said, I did in fact provide an argument as to why an intrinsic link to children matters (see my OP's 2nd paragraph).

Social institutions are afforded legal recognition and protection by the state in virtue of serving a public good. The state's job in this regard is to treat public institutions as public and private institutions as private. Acting contrary to this would be to violate basic principles of equality that liberals commonly appeal to.

But in order to know whether any given institution is public or private, we first need to know what kind of thing it is and what its purposes are. Kind membership provides us with a benchmark by which we can evaluate the flourishing of a given institution by reference to how it ought to function. [1] It tells us what a thing is and hence how it should be treated. The essential operations of social institutions are determined by their nature. Looking mainly at how a social institution in fact functions, which my opponent proposes, puts the metaphysical cart before the horse. A private institution may at times happen to accidentally benefit a public good, but it is not coordinated to this as an end. It remains private in virtue of what it is ordered to by nature.

Let's Recap

Here is the essence of my argument: If the state is going to be involved in the business of regulating marriage, then it has an obligation to get marriage right. To get marriage right, we first need to know what marriage is and why it is subject to legal recognition in the first place. Only by answering this question can we determine who gets what benefits. The mere fact that a benefit is being withheld is irrelevant if done so based on criteria relevant to what marriage should be.

Every law makes distinctions, and simply because a particular law may exclude some does not mean that there is somethinh problematig about it. What matters is whether the basis on which they are excluded is a relevant one. Relevant to what? In this case, relevant to what marriage is supposed to be.

So then what is marriage? I've argued that it's a comprehensive union with a special link to children. This accounts for its public purpose of marriage and its unitive dimension. My opponent obviously doesn't think this is correct, but he has offered no attempt at answering this question. But then how are we supposed to debate whether same-sex marriage is just or unjust without reference to what marriage should be? This is just one of the many challenges that my opponent needs to overcome in order to vindicate his position.



The resolution is affirmed. Con's criticisms do not adequately address the case that I have made.

_________

1. cf. Martha Nussbaum, Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership (Cambridge, MA: Belknap. 2006)

HonestDiscussioner

Con

I appreciate and thank my opponent for taking the time to give us an interesting perspective on marriage. However, his perspective does not hold up to scrutiny.


There is much to go over in Pro's response, many misunderstandings and numerous instances where he waivers from the resolution. Before I take on some of the deeper and more nuanced points, I will run over the recap that my opponent provided in to rebut the basis for his arguments.


"If the state is going to be involved in the business of regulating marriage, then it has an obligation to get marriage right. To get marriage right, we first need to know what marriage is and why it is subject to legal recognition in the first place."


This assumes that marriage is an objective entity, an unchanging transcendent constant to which we must honor if we are to use it. There is no secular reason to hold institutions as objective constructs. This is especially true given history, which shows marriage to be a constantly evolving construct utilized by the culture and time period it existed in for whatever purpose that culture needed it to be [6]. We don't get marriage "right or wrong", but the question is how best to utilize the construct to give the greatest benefit to society. Marriage isn't "supposed to be" anything other than what we as a society choose to make it, at least from a secular point of view.


"I've argued that it's a comprehensive union with a special link to children."


My opponent uses this definition selectively. When we are talking about a heterosexual couple, this definition suffices. Pro is happy to point out how important child development is under this context, even going so far to say the State can incentivize marriage for the purpose of child-rearing (as opposed to child procreation). The moment we are talking about a homosexual couple this definition is dropped in lieu of defining marriage as a special link to procreation.


My opponent states that a homosexual relationship cannot be intrinsically ordered to child-rearing because homosexual couples cannot procreate. This does not follow as childbearing has nothing to do with parenting. Very fertile people (or couples) can be terrible parents and vice-versa. In addition, what determines how a relationship is ordered, intrinsically or extrinsically, is not biology or physical ability but whether the couple choose to orient their relationship around building a family. Intrinsic simply means "belonging to a thing by its very nature" [1], and relationship is " a connection, association, or involvement" [2]. The nature of one's involvement with another is voluntary, not innate in biology.


By my opponent's own admission, the government should incentivize family units for the purposes of child-development. By my opponent's own admission, marriage is an excellent institution for child-development. My opponent did not clarify during these admissions that the benefits only apply to those capable of procreation, that is only something he added on later when I called him out on it. Even so, if a couple wants to start a family, they and the children are better off if the caretakers are married, again by my opponent's own admission. Are we to tell little Johnny and Kimmy: "Sorry, you don't get these benefits. Your development doesn't get incentivized. You should remain in foster care or an orphanage." Shall we tell them this, and then add "because the people who want to love you can't make MORE babies"?


This exposes my opponent's argument as not being truly based in children or procreation. From a secular cost\benefit standpoint, gay marriage clearly fulfills one role he claims marriage is for, yet he denies this for reasons that have no bearing on child-development, or else he would have argued children are better off in orphanages than with a gay couple. Instead, it is about a particular sex act, heterosexual sex. Therefore my opponents view (if we are only to allow secular arguments) boils down to the claim that heterosexuals should be the only ones allowed to marry because they're heterosexuals.


I challenge my opponent to give an example of a societal harm that comes with gay marriage. I should like to note that in two full responses, my opponent has not been able to outline a single harm to society. He may have argued that marriage will be harmed, but the State is not in the business of protecting marriage for marriage's sake. The State uses the institution of marriage to promote societal good, a good that following my opponent's own reasoning would easily come to pass with gay marriage's adoption. I argue that without an actual societal harm, my opponent cannot make a secular case against gay marriage.


I will briefly respond to Pro's comments that gays don't have a right to marriage. Well nothing in the Constitution or in any respectable secular political theory does it say that the State must regulate marriage. The State also does not only act through fulfilling rights. The good people of Baltimore do not have a right to free public transportation, yet it is still offered to promote the public good, and allowing gay marriage does enhance the public good, which I can defend using my opponent's own reasoning.


That's the thrust of my opponent's argument, but there are still plenty of misunderstandings to go around, so I'll address those now.


Insofar as whether a couple has "gender complimentarity" (GC), my opponent severely confuses gender with physical sex. A person with a physically male body can actually be gendered female or vice versa [3]. We do not give gender tests when we give out marriage licenses, and to my knowledge no significant voice has called for that to be a part of the marriage process. Perhaps my opponent's mistake was to use the word gender when he meant physical sex, e.g. genitalia. Even if I were to admit that GC in this regard is beneficial to child development, it is not so vital to disqualify gay couples as unworthy of being incentivized to form family units.


"But in order to know whether any given institution is public or private, we first need to know what kind of thing it is and what its purposes are."


This is what Pro argues as to why there must be an intrinsic purpose for the State to have a vested interest in something. This is demonstrably false. First, it confuses the intentional purpose of a thing for the purpose a separate entity might have for the same thing. The purpose of marriage is what the society wants to get out of it. Why should the society not want at least one of the purposes of marriage to be to incentivize child-rearing in a same-sex couple? My opponent can attempt to argue that heterosexual couplings are superior in this respect, and while I'd vehemently disagree on that notion his argument would be irrelevant as to whether it would still be good to incentivize that relationship.


This is why I brought up all of the non-child related benefits to marriage. Despite what my opponent says, there are numerous other reasons the government appropriates marriage [4].


"Hence, the state's interest in children does indeed extend to child development, but only in connection with a type of union apt for producing them. It is a mistake to separate the two."


This is nothing more than an assertion. Child development and procreation are not intrinsically linked. What makes a person or couple an effective procreator has nothing to do with what makes them a good child-rearer. Also, we incentivize single parent families to adopt [5]. Clearly a single parent by themselves is not "ordered towards procreation".


Without demonstrating societal harm, my opponent's arguments do not address this secular issue at all, let alone adequately. The resolution does not stand affirmed.


[1] http://tinyurl.com...


[2] http://tinyurl.com...


[3] http://tinyurl.com...


[4] http://tinyurl.com...


[5] http://tinyurl.com...


[6] http://tinyurl.com...

Debate Round No. 2
Contradiction

Pro

Like my opponent said of me, there is much to go over in his response. I'll focus on key parts in his response, with smaller points being grouped under them.

Does Marriage Have an Objective Nature? Yes!

My opponent doesn't think so; but in many ways this very debate must presuppose that marriage does have an objective nature. Here's why: If there is no way that marriage ought to be, then how can we say that any given marriage policy is just or unjust? How can restrictions on who can enter into a legal marriage be bad if marriage is just something we invent? [1] Presumably my opponent thinks that bans on interracial marriage were unjust -- but suppose everyone in a society were to agree that such bans were necessary. There's no doubt that they would nevertheless be wrong, and they would be wrong because they imposed a criteria irrelevant to what marriage issupposed to look like.

Indeed, he has given no argument to the extent that there is no such thing as an objective nature to marriage. By contrast, many of the (purely secular!) arguments I have offered serve the dual function of demonstrating that there is a core essence to marriage. He has, therefore, given nothing but an assertion. Now while it is true that societies throughout history have had varying (but limited) views on marriage, this does not by any means show that marriage is simply whatever we want it to be. The mere phenomenon of disagreement doesn't verify metaphysical conventionalism. [2] This is an incredibly weak argument.

Procreation and Child-Bearing: Inseparable

I gave substantive arguments in R1 and R2 that procreation and child rearing go together: Any union that is not oriented toward procreation is not oriented toward child rearing. Con's response completely misunderstands these arguments; the claim is not that all heterosexual conjugal unions are good parents, nor is it that non-conjugal unions are incapable of raising children. Rather, the claim is that conjugal unions are naturally suited toward raising children, in the same way that an eye is naturally suited toward seeing. Not all eyes may see, and not all conjugal unions may exercise the virtues of parenthood, but that has nothing to do with my argument.

Con's strategy was to argue that procreation and child-raising are unrelated, and hence homosexuals are capable of achieving the latter even if not the former. On that basis, they should be allowed to enter into legal marriages. But as I argued, the mere capacity to raise children is not enough. We exclude many different kinds of social unions from entering into marriage (e.g. triad of three+ people, a group of nuns or fraternity brothers, friends) even though they are capable in a broad sense of raising children. To be called a marriage, a union must not merely be capable of raising children; it must also be specially suited to having children to begin with. Hence why procreative ability is important.

Con ends up attacking a strawman. My arguments remain unaffected.

The 'Harm' Principle: Yet Another Question-Begging Argument!

My opponent argues that if my case is to succeed, that I need to produce an instance of a societal harm that results from same-sex marriage.

There are two things to note about this. First, my argument is thoroughly non-consequentialist. Same-sex marriage is unjust not because of any consequences that it may bring about, but because it promotes a false model of human sexuality. I don't care whether same-sex marriage harms anyone; I care about getting marriage right. This is not co-extensive with the issue of harm. Con's demand, therefore, is simply irrelevant.

Another more fundamental problem is that his demand begs the question. If the arguments I have given are sound, then same-sex marriage is itself an harmful in virtue of its promoting a false understanding of human sexuality. If marriage is supposed to be a comprehensive union with a special link to children, anything else promotes a false understanding of marriage and qualifies as a moral harm (harms come in different types, not just physical!).

Herein lies the core mistake in my opponent's argument: You cannot know that society is being harmed with respect to some institution without assuming some idea of what that institution is. The harm question is of course a very important one, but it is secondary to this more fundamental issue. If marriage revisionists are right about what they think marriage is, then allowing same-sex marriage harms no one. Conversely, if they are wrong, then allowing same-sex marriage is an intrinsic harm that necessarily harms the culture-at-large.

Harms are always defined in relation to a state of proper well-being. Hence we first need to know what marriage is before we can answer whether same-sex marriage is itself harmful or leads to external harms. My opponent has not even attempted to take up this challenge.

Brief Comments on Kind Membership, Benefits and The State's Interest.

1) Con argues that I confuse an institution's intrinsic purpose with other purposes that some other entity might have for it. Nonsense. The state's job is to promote the common good. The common includes the various social institutions which make up civil society. If the state is going to regulate these institutions, then it should regulate them correctly, viz. according to their own intrinsic purpose. The purpose of marriage, as I have argued several times, is its link to children. To ignore this and impose a completely different meaning on marriage is to impede a societal good. My opponent's argument relies on a conventionalist account of marriage, under which it has no objective purpose or structure. But this was asserted without argument.

2) Con misunderstands my response to the benefits argument. I pointed out that in order for the benefits argument to work, that one must first show that individuals are entitled to those benefits. The state may, of course, dispense benefits at its own discretion apart from the demands of justice, but in the case of a social institution like marriage (which, as I've argued, has an objective nature), benefits must be dispensed in relation to what marriage is supposed to be. Once again, we can't determine who gets marriage benefits unless we first know what marriage is. Marriage may turn otu to be a social construction, but this requires independent argument.

3) The state's interest is in marriage is first and foremost in its link to the creation of children. There are, of course, other benefits related to marriage, but these are all ancillary to that purpose. This is confirmed by the weight of American legal precedent. [3], [4], [5], [6]


The resolution is affirmed.

_______

NOTES

1. One might try to argue that marriage is a social practice; albeit one that is governed by rules. This response fails, since social practices are instrumental goods aimed at furthering other basic goods. Marriage, by contrast, is a fundamental good. cf. Girgis, Anderson, and George, What is Marriage? (Encounter: 2013) 46.

2. And in fact, any disagreement on complimentarity is nearly non-existent. See Maggie Gallagher, "The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage" and "Reply to Corvino" in Gallagher and Corvino, Debating Same-Sex Marriage (Oxford: 2012)

3. “Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race.” – Skinner v. Oklahoma(1942) 316 U.S. 535, 541

4. “[Marriage] is the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.” – Maynard v. Hill (1888) 125 U.S. 190, 211.

5. “[T]he first purpose of matrimony, by the laws of nature and society, is procreation.” – Baker v. Baker (1859) 13 Cal. 87, 103.

6. Conaway v. Deane, 903 A.2d 416, 620 (Md. 2007), though not a SCOTUS case itself, summarizes the relevant precedents:

“Virtually every Supreme Court case recognizing as fundamental the right to marry indicates as the basis for the conclusion the institution’s inextricable link to procreation, which necessarily and biologically involves participation by a man and a woman.”

HonestDiscussioner

Con

Without further ado, let's break down Pro's argument.

"If there is no way that marriage ought to be, then how can we say that any given marriage policy is just or unjust?"

By judging its effect on the society. There's no need to presuppose an objective nature. This shows a recurring theme in my opponent's argument: humans are unimportant, or less important than institutions. Notice the question itself doesn't concern itself at all with the implications on people, but rather with the implications against marriage itself. Any justice that sacrifices the well being of humans for that of institutions is no justice at all.

"How can restrictions on who can enter into a legal marriage be bad if marriage is just something we invent?"

We invented drivers licenses. Is it that any restriction to drivers licenses cannot be bad? How about if we restrict one gender? That's bad because the consequences are bad. My opponent is unconcerned for the welfare of the country in his argument.

". . my opponent thinks that bans on interracial marriage were unjust -- but suppose everyone in a society were to agree that such bans were necessary."

This builds a strawman. What I have argued is that society has a very large benefit to gain by having same-sex marriage, and that there are large detriments to banning it. The same would be true for interracial marriage and thus under both of our positions, banning interracial marriage would be wrong. My opponent hasn't argued against this point, but instead has tried to protect a concept at the expense of real people.

My opponent has continually asserted what marriage is supposed to be, insisting on his own definition. Until now, I've resisted declaring a definition as I do believe marriage should be flexible given the needs of the society, but a definition can be given which allows for all the necessary flexibility. Marriage is "the state of being united to a person as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law". This is quite similar to my opponent's definition only it does not state that marriage has a special link to children; there is no reason why it must be. The State should incentivize childbearing\rearing, but nothing compels them to do it specifically with marriage. Just like my opponent has agreed that marriage can have other purposes beyond those things, marriage can still be an institution that does not have a necessary or intrinsic link to children while still being used towards that end. Just like drivers licenses are not "an institution with a special link to shipping commercial goods", it does not mean that they cannot be used to that end, or that the government can't incentivize people acquiring them for that purpose.

"he has given no argument to the extent that there is no such thing as an objective nature to marriage."

Actually, I argued that marriage has been a constantly evolving construct since its inception (therefore if it does have an objective nature, we have no way of knowing what it is), but even without that, the burden to call something an objective never-changing construct lies with my opponent, who has failed that burden spectacularly. Pro's entire argument rests upon his definition. Yet he gives us no reason to think that his definition is better or more accurate than any other. Since marriage has been changing and evolving since its inception, he can't appeal to tradition nor to any transcendent principle since this is a secular debate. Just like all of the other invented concepts we have, we have found numerous uses for them, and therefore an object nature to these constructs is unnecessary to use them.

So I issue a challenge to my opponent: Why should we consider your definition of marriage to be the true objective nature of it, if we were to assume such a nature existed in the first place? What precludes it from being my definition? Since my definition does bear upon the public good moreso than Pro's, by his own logic my definition is perfectly acceptable.

"the claim is that conjugal unions are naturally suited toward raising children"

I did include that straight people can be terrible parents, but I also said that unions\relationships are not naturally suited to anything. What determines the nature of a relationship or marriage is what the participants decide to orient it towards. A straight couple can orient it towards traveling around the world, just the two of them, and a gay couple can orient marriage towards raising a family. Pro ignored this argument and built a strawman.

"[Gay] marriage is unjust not because of any consequences that it may bring about, but because it promotes a false model of human sexuality. I don't care whether same-sex marriage harms anyone; I care about getting marriage right."

My opponent has completely undermined any possible case he had in the above quote. He has exposed quite willingly that his arguments are not at all secular. He has said, consequences be damned, he will protect marriage. This is a secular debate, secular being "of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred" [1]. Yet, my opponent is treating marriage as anything but worldly, anything but sacred. None of his arguments, by his own admission, apply to the resolution of this debate, for a secular argument is concerned with this world and my opponent is not at concerned with it.

"Same-sex marriage is unjust not because of any consequences that it may bring about, but because it promotes a false model of human sexuality."

Homosexuality is not a false model of human sexuality, as it is a perfectly natural phenomenon that does not harm anyone [2][4]. Also, sexuality is really only "involvement in sexual activity" [3], one can no more have a false model of sexuality than you could have a false model of running: you are either running or you aren't. Even harmful sexuality is still true sexuality, though homosexuality isn't harmful. I'll tell you what is harmful, calling homosexuality a false model of human sexuality, or even connecting it in such a way [4]. Since I have shown that homosexuality and gay marriage does not promote a false model of human sexuality, again my opponent's own reasoning refutes his argument. His reason for calling gay marriage unjust just doesn't apply, and neither does his argument.

"You cannot know that society is being harmed with respect to some institution without assuming some idea of what that institution is."

We can define what marriage is and apply that definition without making it so the definition is eternal and unchanging. What makes a good football team today is not what made a good football team 80 years ago. Like society, the rules, culture, and environment changed. This argument is based on a misunderstanding of a very basic principle.

"Harms are always defined in relation to a state of proper well-being. Hence we first need to know what marriage . ."

Again when talking about harms, he speaks of harms to marriage. Not people, not society, not worldly things. If gay marriage truly harmed society, he would be able to actually point out where. He would be able to show a negative effect on our society. Fewer adoptions? Lower physical health? Heavier social burden for foster home care? Oh I'm sorry, those are the negative effects of not having same-sex marriage.

My opponent has ignored my argument that a relationship's orientation is determined by the participants. My opponent has ignored my pointing out his argument is nothing more than tautologically stating heterosexual should be the only ones allowed to marry because they are heterosexuals. He has displayed his argument as not being concerned with the worldly; not a single argument he has made has anything to do with promoting a secular argument against gay marriage.

The resolution hasn't even been attempted to be affirmed.

[1] http://tinyurl.com...

[2] http://tinyurl.com...

[3] http://tinyurl.com...

[4] http://tinyurl.com...

Debate Round No. 3
Contradiction

Pro

I must say that I am not sure that Con read my opening argument closely. Though I do not doubt his sincerity, many of the questions he put forth were addressed from the very beginning.

He seems to think that I have merely asserted the conjugal understanding marriage as true; but this couldn't be more wrong! I provided an explicit argument in my OP as to why we should accept the conjugal picture as correct: Its model of marriage as a comprehensive bodily union (and only this model) justifies (a) the public dimension of marriage [state's interest] and (b) the private dimension of marriage [real sexual union]. All other attempts fall short in either regard. Con has not attempted to question the integrity of this argument.

1. The "Harm Principle"

Endorsement of the harm principle is a key part of my opponent's argument. A generic form of the principle was first articulated by J. S. Mill, who argued that the state may restrict autonomy only when one's action harms another. [1] Accordingly, Con argues that unless same-sex marriage results in harm to society, that it may not be restricted. But this principle can be attacked on various grounds, none of which he has adequately responded to:

First, what does it mean to harm another? We can't know what harm consists of unless we first know what well-being is. Harm is defined as an attack on well-being, flourishing, or proper functioning. So in order to know whether same-sex marriage is itself harmful or results in harm, we first need to know what a proper marriage policy looks like. We have to answer the question: What is marriage? This must be settled before we look at the harms question. Playing the "harm card" by itself is flagrantly question-begging.

Indeed, if the arguments made in my OP are sound (and Con didn't really give a non-question begging reason as to why they go wrong), then same-sex marriage is itself -- in virtue of promoting a false view of human sexuality -- a harm to society. It may not leave a tangible harm, but it is nonetheless a moral harm to society because it enshrines into the public understanding an incorrect view (so I've argued) of what marriage actually is. Social institutions are just as real as the people who partake in them, so a harm to one is necessarily a harm to another. Con's distinction between harms to marriage and harms to society is arbitrary. Both matter, and recognizing same-sex marriage will result in moral harm to both.

None of this, mind you, requires saying that homosexuality is immoral. Con misinterpreted my comments about same-sex marriage being a false view of human sexuality. Homosexual unions may be valuable social relationships with their own unique goods; the argument being made is that they should not be recognized as marriages in virtue of their being a private emotional union with no inherent link to the comment good. [2] This is why I emphasized the point of kind-membership.

Hence, the falsity of same-sex marriage lies not in the immorality of gay relationships per se, but in the fact that it misidentifies what is proper to marriage.


Second, it is not clear why we should even accept the harm principle. Acceptance of the harm principle requires acceptance of the entire political framework (i.e. contemporary liberalism) from which it is built. Con has offered no reason for us to accept this very controversial and heavily criticized approach to political philosophy. [3]

Finally, Con argues that by my own admission, my arguments are not secular. This is a ridiculous charge. A secular argument is simply one which makes no appeal to divine revelation or private religious premises. My arguments clearly meet that requirement. Secular reasons may be consequentialist, deontological (such as mine), or virtue based. There is no requirement that secular arguments be exclusively consequentialist. Indeed, many political liberals, such as John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin, have rejected consequentialism in their writings.

2. Does Marriage Have a Core Essence?

One difficulty with a constructionist understanding of marriage is that if there is no way that marriage should be, then we are left without a standard by which to judge any given marriage policy as just or unjust. Con denies this. He proposes that we can evaluate a marriage policy by "judging its effect on society." But this is precisely the problem! Which effects are relevant and which are not? Any marriage policy will inevitably exclude some from entering, so it is important to determine which groups are and are not entitled to entering into marriage. But in order to know what forms of union are entitled to marriage, we need to know what marriage ought to look like. We can't judge effects without a relevant standard to judge by. Con has not avoided the initial difficulty.

Con's driver license comparison works to undercut his own argument. Consider the following thought experiment: Suppose, following his own view, that marriage is a social practice that depends on prevailing conventions and social utility. Now suppose we have a time period in which (1) there is vast agreement that marriage should be between individuals of the same race and (2) there would be a great deal of conflict (i.e. negative utility) should interracial marriages be recognized. If marriage is a wholly constructed institution, then it seems that the right thing to do would be for the state to deny marriages to interracial couples because that's what they think marriage is. But surely this is absurd; they deserve marriage rights regardless of what people may think of them. But how can this be if marriage has no core essence? Con only pushes the problem back one level. Whatever standard we use to evaluate a social construction is arbitrary. His mistake is this: Simply because a social institution may be partly constructed does not mean that it is entirely constructed. [4]

The cultural variation argument does not establish its conclusion. As I pointed out (with no reply), the mere fact that different societies treat something differently does not imply that it has no objective nature. This is merely an anthropological commentary on the culture's epistemological views, not the object of inquiry itself. Cultures can be right or wrong, a mere difference of opinion doesn't show that there is no right answer (cf. historical disagreements about mathematics and science). And in fact, cultural variation on the man-woman requirement has virtually been non-existent. [5]

Finally, Con argues: "What determines the nature of a relationship or marriage is what the participants decide to orient it towards." This is simply begging the question against me. Although this may be true for socially constructed relationships such as business partnerships, I have argued that marriage should be construed as a natural institution rooted in an act of comprehensive bodily union (viz. coitus). This argument only works by presupposing the falsity of my position. Moreover, this principle is false for certain family relationships that are non-consensual (such as a son's relationship to his father and siblings). [6] Family relationships are just one kind of natural biological relationship; its structure is irrelevant to what its participants think it is about. A son who thinks of his mother as his wife and not as his mother does not thereby change the fact that she is his mother. At any rate, absent an argument, I see no reason to accept his assertion.

The resolution is affirmed.

_______

NOTES

1. Mill, On Liberty, various trans.
2. Nevertheless, a good case can be made that such unions are in fact immoral and lead to tangible harms. See bit.ly/1asHWRy and Gallagher, "The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage," respectively.
3. cf. Christopher Wolfe, Natural Law Liberalism (Cambridge: 2007)
4. Girgis, Anderson, and George, What is Marriage? (Encounter: 2012): 47.
5. Gallagher, ibid.
6. cf. Christina Hoff Sommers, "Philosophers Against the Family" reprinted in Oddie and Boonin, What's Wrong? (Oxford: 2005)
HonestDiscussioner

Con

My opponent has expressed a certain level of bewilderment over my arguments, asserting that I may have skipped over some of his arguments. I will in fact argue that it is Pro who has overlooked a few key points of my position, as well as his own. For example, he claims he argued his definition is objectively true because:

"Its model of marriage as a comprehensive bodily union (and only this model) justifies (a) the public dimension of marriage [state's interest] and (b) the private dimension of marriage [real sexual union]. All other attempts fall short in either regard."

The last sentence is entirely new, as well as being borderline absurd. What Contradiction has done here is assert that because his definition is the only one the state could use, therefore that must mean that is the objective nature of marriage. This doesn't follow. It assumes that the objective nature of marriage is actually something the government could, under his own unnecessarily strict terms, implement. Perhaps the supposed objective nature of marriage is actually a definition that the government can't apply. Now this wouldn't help my opponent, because he understands the terms of the debate is whether to specifically ban Same-Sex marriage (SSM), so his argument must simultaneously advocate for straight marriage while giving a good reason to ban SSM. So his argument boils down to claiming the objective nature of marriage is what he claims it to be because that is the only definition that would satisfy his burden. Despite his assertions, I have not engaged in any question-begging, but quite clearly he is guilty of it here.

As it stands, my opponent has given no discernible method for ascertaining the alleged objective nature of marriage that isn't blatantly circular. Without such a method, he can't even say he knows this nature involves the coupling of two person, let alone the coupling of two opposite sex people.

Ignoring everything I've said against his argument, it still fails. Not only does my definition imply both a State interest (child-rearing\baring, promoting mental\physical health, social stability) and a private interest (as my opponent argued "love" is a private institution), but it serves a greater State interest than my opponent's definition. My definition allows us to incentivize more child adoptions, additional healthy relationships, additional healthy childhoods, and do so for a larger percentage of society where no individual is precluded from both the public and private purposes because of their sexual orientation. My definition speaks to marriage being about the bond between two individuals, and the State can utilize that bond for the above purposes, just like in my driver's licenses example.

Speaking of which, Pro responded to that portion, though missing the point entirely. He asks:

". . . they [minorities] deserve marriage rights regardless of what people may think of them. But how can this be if marriage has no core essence?"

People have a core essence. Minorities deserve marriage just as much as the majority, because they are people too. As has been the case this entire debate, my opponent misses the human element. Were it the case that the best course of action was to deny minorities rights, it doesn't mean that minorities can't deserve those rights. There are plenty of things people deserve but don't get. I reject that it would be the best course of action given Pro's scenario, but that's irrelevant to the point. His argument simply does not follow. My evaluation isn't arbitrary, it's simply based on people. I'll remind my opponent that government is for the people, by the people.

In short, Pro has no mechanism to uncover what the objective nature of marriage is that isn't based on circular reasoning, even ignoring the circularity of the argument it still fails factually, and ignoring that it actually disproves his own argument, and elevates mine.

"Accordingly, Con argues that unless same-sex marriage results in harm to society, that it may not be restricted. But this principle can be attacked on various grounds, none of which he has adequately responded to"

I'm not merely arguing that banning SSM requires a harm, rather I've demonstrated that banning it does harm and implementing it does good. My opponent has not attempted to refute these claims, but instead seems to bite the bullet that his position will sacrifice a lot of good in exchange for a lot of harm, but it is the right thing to do to protect marriage. He does argue that there will be harm by promoting a false sense of sexuality, but that assumes his definition, and also doesn't give a reason how that would actually harm anyone. In this regard, Pro has still not met my challenge, for I asked for a tangible harm, one he admits doesn't exist. This should be easy if indeed SSM harms society, but his silence on this matter is deafening. However his own definition of harm "an attack on well-being, flourishing, or proper functioning" is not met, for SSM does not negatively affect any of those for people. Therefore Pro's assertion that harming marriage implies a harm on people does not follow.

"in order to know whether same-sex marriage is itself harmful or results in harm, we first need to know what a proper marriage policy looks like."

This response is grossly incorrect. In order to understand what the harms to people are, we need only understand people. Imagine that I inject you with a completely unknown substance. Despite the fact we don't have any idea what it is, we can clearly understand what the effects are of using it in a particular manner. It could be that the objective nature of marriage is actually harmful to society while getting it wrong would bring happiness and prosperity. As I argued before (and Pro ignored), any justice that sacrifices the well being of humans for that of institutions is no justice at all.

"As I pointed out (with no reply), the mere fact that different societies treat something differently does not imply that it has no objective nature."

In fact I did reply. I stated explicitly that without appealing to the past, one has no way of ascertaining the objective nature of marriage, should it have one.

"A son who thinks of his mother as his wife and not as his mother does not thereby change the fact that she is his mother."

Pro is guilty of the fallacy of equivocation. Being a mother and having a mother-son relationship are two entirely different things. Imagine if someone's father is killed before that person is even conceived, they have a heart attack right after sex. That person will be that individual's father, but they won't have a relationship together at all. Pro's argument fails to address the actual issue.

"I have argued that marriage should be construed as a natural institution rooted in an act of comprehensive bodily union."

My argument doesn't presuppose the falsity of his position, it demonstrates it. How people behave in and treat their relationship affects its nature, this is demonstrable. Pro is question begging by assuming that marriage must be a natural institution rooted in biology, but he discusses it as a relationship and that is simply not how relationships work.

I should point out that unlike me, Pro gave no source for his definition of secular.

To counter Pro's note citing Gallagher, I'll actually cite experts in the field of child care, The American Academy of Pediatrics:

More than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. These data have demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with 1 or more gay parents. Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families.[1]

[1] http://tinyurl.com...

Debate Round No. 4
Contradiction

Pro

My thanks to HonestDiscussioner for suggesting this debate. It's hard to fit everything I want to say in this final response. I'm going to end with (1) a summary of my initial argument and (2) general replies to the latest criticisms brought forth by Con.

If you have not read this entire debate, do not vote. I don't particularly care what side you vote for (though of course I strongly uge a vote for Pro), but I do care that you've carefully understood the arguments brought forth.

The Secular Case Against SSM: Synopsis

To determine whether a marriage policy is just/unjust, we first need to know something about what marriage is. This is true even if marriage ultimately amounts to a social construction, since even that amounts to at least a provisional account of marriage. We can't get far in a debate regarding justice about x unless we have some knowledge of what x is.

Marriage, I argued, should be thought of as a comprehensive union with a special link to children. This definition has two parts, each of which correspond to the private and public purposes of marriage. Marriage is a comprehensive union in that coitus joins together a man and his wife in a way that makes them an organic whole, viz. their parts coordinate toward a common end, one that finds its fulfillment in the creation of children: hence the special link to children. Not all marriages exemplify this norm, as infertile couples show, but all unions of man and wife are directed to this as a proper end.

But why accept this account? Two reasons. First, the political argument: The state incentivizes marriage for a public reason. The conjugal conception of marriage provides this public reason, since marriage essentially concerns the welfare of third parties in virtue of its special link to children. Other relationships, such as friendships or homosexual unions, may have their own unique goods, but they are essentially private unions irrelevant to legal recognition and protection. Second, the metaphysical argument: the conjugal conception of marriage best accounts for our pre-theoretical intuitions regarding marriage. By this I mean that it carries cumulative explanatory superiority over other models in that it accounts for the unitive dimension of marriage and its status as a human good. This was explained in my R1 argument. There is thus no wonder why US courts (and the common law) have historically affirmed this understanding of marriage (see previous citations).

Criticisms and Replies

1. Bare assertion/begging the question

Reply: Con insists that I have only asserted the conjugal position as true. This is charge is false. I was clear in providing (1) an exposition of my case and (2) an explanation as to why it should be preferred over other accounts. My argument does rely on certain assumptions, but nowhere did I take them for granted. Instead, I provided justifications aimed to demonstrate their reasonableness. The fact that Con has responded to some of these justifications means that this charge is specious. To those I now turn.

2. SSM DOES promote a public interest!

Reply: One of the points that I took great pains to emphasize was the relevance of kind-membership in determining which social institutions to recognize. This point is crucial when it comes to Con's argument that spreading marital norms to same-sex individuals would benefit the public good. Benefits do matter, but what matters more is whether they are suited for social structures in which they are said to inhere. In other words, same-sex marriage may be able to mimic some of the advantages of traditional marriages, but that doesn't justify treating them as equals if in fact they are different in kind. Companionships, for example, do mimic some of what goes in in marriage, but this similarity means little. Whatever superficial similarities there may be, it doesn't touch on the real issues at stake -- issues which are fundamentally metaphysical.

Of course, Con notes that his own argument here depends on marriage between a social construction that can be molded to a wide range of purposes. So whether his argument succeeds will depend in part on whether marriage is in fact a social construction.

3. Marriage is a social construction

Reply: If we want to get marriage right, we should pay serious attention to the metaphysical questions at stake. So suppose that marriage is socially constructed. This would seem to make marriage policy contingent on prevailing attitudes, which would -- at certain periods of time -- have meant denying interracial couples the right to marry. Con denies this consequence, saying that people have a core essence. This response confuses individuals with the relationships they enter into. A relationship supervenes on those who enter into it, so treating a relationship as a social construction is not the same as treating those who voluntarily enter into it as social constructions as well. Con therefore does not avoid the absurd implications of a constructionist understanding of marriage.

At any rate, Con has given us no good reason to suppose that this is true. He does note the fact that some societies have (to a limited degree) treated marriage differently. But so what? The presence of disagreement doesn't imply that there's no right answer to what's being disagreed about. Moreover, looking at history isn't the only way we can settle disagreements. Philosophers ranging from Aristotle to John Rawls have noted that pure reason ("reflective equilibrium" for Rawls) is another way of knowing. History aids, but does not exhaust the paths to knowledge.

4. The harm principle

Reply: There are two things to note about this argument. First, I reject the principle wholesale. It relies on a very controversial framework of political philosophy (i.e. contemporary liberalism) that Con hasn't attempted to justify. I see no reason to simply grant him his assumptions here.

Second, and more importantly, the principle begs the question. Let's suppose the arguments for conjugal marriage succeed and that marriage is indeed a comprehensive union ordered to children. In that case, those who promote same-sex marriage are promoting a false view of what marriage actually is. Promulgation of this view by the state would amount to false teaching, which is harmful to intellectual virtues. This may not be physical harm, but it is a species of harm nevertheless. The state should care about all types of harm -- not just physical harm -- since the well-being of citizens extends to their physical and intellectual lives.

The point, then, is this: Before we can determine whether same-sex marriage is harmful, we first need to know something about what marriage is. And to know what marriage is, we need to know how people are constituted with respect to forming unions with each other. Here I fully agree with Con that we need to understand people. We differ only in the conclusions where this leads us to. The conjugal position provides a rich and powerful philosophical anthropology under which real bodily union is possible. I cannot say the same for his understanding of marriage.

The harm question is a very interesting one, but it is secondary to the more basic metaphysical question.

5. Misc. Points

A secular argument is simply one which relies on reasons accessible to all; that is, one does not have to be a member of a special private sect (such as a religion) to access them. This parallels Rawls' idea of "public reason." [1] All of the arguments I've given here pass this test. They don't require adherence to any exclusive belief system.

I'm not sure why Con mentioned child care, since my arguments here are purely philosophical; they don't depend on statistics. But, see Marks [2] and Regnerus [3].

At the risk of sounding cliche, the main problem in my opponent's arguments is that nearly all beg the question!

THE RESOLUTION IS AFFIRMED.

______

NOTES

1. See Rawls, Political Liberalism and Wolfe, Natural Law Liberalism
2. http://tinyurl.com...
3. http://tinyurl.com...
HonestDiscussioner

Con

I would like to begin by thanking Contradiction for his participation in this debate. This is an important issue, and parsing through such things is vital to the health of our civilization. I too would like you to encourage you to read the entire debate if you haven't already, or even re-read it, so you can be certain that what I am about to claim is accurate.

Allow me to argue why I believe you should vote Con.

Ignored Arguments

Pro did not address a plethora of arguments throughout the debate. He has ignored my arguments that:

1. Saying OSM serves a purpose for the State and is therefore the objective nature of marriage is question-begging.

2. My definition serves a greater public good than his definition; it does not fall short of either the private or public purpose.

3. Any justice that sacrifices the well being of humans for that of institutions is no justice at all.

4. There are other court opinions that say the public purpose of marriage extends beyond children.

5. Gender identity and whether genders complement each other is not determined by physical sex.

6. Children being raised by gay couples deserve to have their upbringing strengthened.

7. That his argument is circularly based on heterosexual sex.

8. Neither homosexuals nor heterosexuals require a right to marriage in order for the government to regulate it.

9. Single parents are incentivized to adopt and a single parent by themselves is not ordered towards procreation.

10. One does not have to know what something is in order to understand its effects.

I could go on, there are multiple arguments I did not list that went unaddressed, but I'd argue once a position has failed to address points ranging in double-digits that position cannot be considered to have a convincing argument.

Strawman Arguments:

My opponent has (I'll assume unintentionally) misconstrued many of my arguments. Here are a few examples (there are more):

1. I argued that banning SSM does much harm while allowing it promotes much good. Pro responded by asserting I was discussing the "harm principle": that the actions of individuals should only be limited to prevent harm to other individuals. He tried to make it seem as though I was arguing SSM is socially neutral, when in reality I've argued constantly that SSM promotes the public good and banning it diminishes the public good. I've even pointed out that this is a strawman in R3, and instead of a rebuttal in R5 he again calls and responds to it as though it was the harm principle

2. Pro claimed in R5 that my argument was that he only asserted the conjugal position as true. Of course he gave reasons, but I argued those reasons do not advance his case. I pointed out that having a consistent and even beneficial definition does not make it the objective nature.

3. Pro states that the presences of disagreement doesn't imply that there's no right answer to what's being disagreed about, in response to my argument that marriage has been historically different. I agree, but it doesn't address my argument. I challenged Pro to come up with a methodology for determining the intrinsic nature of marriage. All he has offered is reasons to think we should want his definition to be the objective nature of marriage. It serving a public and private purpose, and that the government could implement it (all things that my definition have) imply that is what marriage is.

4. I argued the nature of an interpersonal relationship is determined by the individuals themselves and not their biology. Contradiction falsely equivocated familial relationships (what makes someone a biological mother or father) with the nature of an interpersonal relationship (what makes someone a parental figure). I pointed that this was a strawman, and received no reply.

The Argument Itself

Let's condense Pro's argument to better illustrate the fallacies and leaps in logic necessary for him to make his case.

He starts by defining marriage as an institution with a special link to children. He then says that marriage must serve a public good. After that, he points out that only a heterosexual couple have parts that can work together towards a specific end, that being procreation. This makes them of a certain kind, and therefore only couples of that kind are intrinsically geared toward child-raising. Therefore marriage should only be between a man or a woman.

Even if we assume that heterosexuals can "unite comprehensively", as he puts it, that only shows that they are geared towards procreation. This alleged fact is the basis for his assertion that only unions oriented toward procreation are oriented toward child rearing. This doesn't follow. How genitals work has nothing to do with how children are raised. I've brought this point up nearly every round, and Pro's only response has been to reassert that genital orientation determines the nature of the entire relationship, despite numerous other (unaddressed) arguments to the contrary.

Per kind membership, Pro says:

"Benefits do matter, but what matters more is whether they are suited for social structures in which they are said to inhere."

If it were the case that homosexual couples are not suited for a particular social structure, then they would be at a disadvantage in raising children. Not that we wouldn't expect to see any good homosexual parental units, but that overall there would be detrimental effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) firmly refutes this, and states emphatically that not only are homosexual couples equally equipped to raise children compared to heterosexual couples, but their family unit would be strengthened through marriage. Just because something may appear physically weak, does not mean we get to call it weak if it is able to lift up a building. Pro's citation that other studies not used by the AAP might not be accurate does nothing to dissuade the evidence from my side.

Despite my opponents statement that marriage is an institution with a special link to children, when he argued that Gallagher demonstrated children may be harmed by same-sex parents, and I responded with the AAP quote I described above, Pro found this confusing. Yet he says this in the very first round:

"The state regulates marriage because it has an interest in children. Marriage produces and cultivates the development of future citizens within a family unit held together by norms of fidelity, monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence. The flourishing of children is directly connected with the public good. The state incentivizes marriage both because it recognizes child-rearing to be a difficult task and because it wants to encourage men and women to form family units."

Regardless of whether the State allows SSM, gay couples form families and raise children every day. Same-sex couples deserve the same personal benefits as straight couples and the children deserve to have a strong family unit, which AAP demonstrated.

Finally, citing one philosopher is not good practice for determining a definition, and Pro confuses my demonstrations of the falsity of his claims as begging the question. You don't get to dismiss evidence because the evidence disconfirms your claims.

You may agree with my opponent that SSM should be banned. You may even think there are secular reasons to do so. Perhaps even you think you have great responses to the points that Contradiction skipped over or built a strawman of. That's irrelevant to the question here. You should not deem an argument which cannot address so many different problems and which relies on so many strawmen as persuasive.

If you are the kind of person who votes on spelling and grammar, I encourage you to count the number of mistakes each of us made. Just by using spell check (not counting words not in the dictionary) Pro had twenty different grammar and spelling errors whereas I had only five. I don't really believe spelling should matter much, but in case anyone felt like awarding those points to Pro, I'd like to point that out.

The resolution stands refuted.

Debate Round No. 5
211 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ben2974 3 years ago
ben2974
I don't get why marriage would demand procreation. Marriage signifies laws and order, but not commands.
Posted by briantheliberal 3 years ago
briantheliberal
Why is Pro winning when he clearly lost this debate? Something is off about this...
Posted by bob.kyuss 4 years ago
bob.kyuss
You know what's neat?

When someone has clearly lost a debate gets a bunch of people to come weeks after and vote for him, thus ensuring that it shows up as a "win" after the fact.

How many of your other "wins" follow that pattern, Pro....I wonder.
Posted by HonestDiscussioner 4 years ago
HonestDiscussioner
@GordonJames

I should inform you that Pro's burden was to disallow *only* same-sex marriage, while allowing straight marriages. That was agreed upon before the debate began, he couldn't use a "government shouldn't be marrying at all" argument, because that has nothing to do with whether gay marriage is less deserving than straight marriage. Therefore I don't think your reason for giving Pro the win is valid.
Posted by Eitan_Zohar 4 years ago
Eitan_Zohar
Ho, I completely missed this.
Posted by zmikecuber 4 years ago
zmikecuber
@illegalcombatant

Oh, I never saw that one... Lol, thanks for sending it to me. I'll read it when I get the chance..
Posted by Illegalcombatant 4 years ago
Illegalcombatant
@zmikecuber

"I just haven't seen any debate go to the anti gay marriage side yet."

Maybe because it's not only the most one-sided current topic, but also because even among usual conservatives, there is considerable support for gay marriage and that support is growing.

You mean other than Contradictions and Freemans debate which is one of the most popular debates of all time on DDO ?

http://www.debate.org...
Posted by HonestDiscussioner 4 years ago
HonestDiscussioner
@zmikecuber

"I just haven't seen any debate go to the anti gay marriage side yet."

Maybe because it's not only the most one-sided current topic, but also because even among usual conservatives, there is considerable support for gay marriage and that support is growing.
Posted by HonestDiscussioner 4 years ago
HonestDiscussioner
@zmikecuber

"Anyways, wouldn't continuously using the symbol "&" instead of "and" almost automatically give Contradiction the spelling/grammer?"

No, that symbol is not a spelling mistake, I only used it in one round to save characters, and the ampersand is merely a symbol for "and", it is not something that "cannot" be used in text.

Also, the number of Ampersand's I use doesn't swing the total count to his favor either, even if you did count them as errors.
16 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by KingDebater 3 years ago
KingDebater
ContradictionHonestDiscussionerTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Sources to Con because although all sources were relevant and Con had some sources I'm not able to verify, Con had more reliable sources. Arguments to Con because not only did he refute Pro's arguments, but he gave 7 reasons why married adults are better off than adults that aren't married, with sources to back up.
Vote Placed by jzonda415 3 years ago
jzonda415
ContradictionHonestDiscussionerTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: One of the better debates I have ever read, or heard for that matter, on gay marriage. Both players stepped up to the plate; however, Con did not manage to properly refute Pro's procreation arguments. Pro had very logical reasoning and Con didn't seem to fully grasp marriages meaning. I have read this debate since it began. I was for gay marriage when it began and was leaning towards Pro's arguments actually when I first started reading it. Pro should have probably done a better job with his sources. They were hard to verify, but I don't know if I'm willing to deduct points for the way he had them. So, this is my vote: Conduct - Tie. S&G - Pro (I don't know where Con got his spelling mistake numbers in his last round. I ran it through Microsoft Word and got more mistakes for Con actually) Arguments - Pro wins on the procreation arguments, benefits and harm principle. Con didn't properly refute it enough for me to be convinced. He did well though. Sources - Tie.
Vote Placed by gordonjames 4 years ago
gordonjames
ContradictionHonestDiscussionerTied
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Total points awarded:32 
Reasons for voting decision: Sources - Con used sources that I can't verify like "Miller-Tutzauer et al, 1991" BUT in later rounds gave better references. - Arguments - PRO had BOP, and it was close, He won my vote in his round 2 recap when he specified "If the state is going to be involved in the business of regulating marriage". This opens the question "should government regulate any marriage" IMO Getting out of regulating marriage is a better decision than redefining (legally) what marriage is all about.
Vote Placed by donald.keller 4 years ago
donald.keller
ContradictionHonestDiscussionerTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: I felt the sources listed backed up both side in a reliable manner. I feel the Pro's conduct and arguments felt overall better though, and were easy to follow and well organized.
Vote Placed by wierdman 4 years ago
wierdman
ContradictionHonestDiscussionerTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Honestly, I agreed with pro before the debate and upon reading the debate, I was even more convinced. Conduct I gave to pro because his cases and rebuttals were easy to flow and very organized. This made for an easy debate to read. Same goes for spelling and grammar. Sources for Pro were more evenly balanced and relevant.
Vote Placed by TrotskyistRebel 4 years ago
TrotskyistRebel
ContradictionHonestDiscussionerTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: I think pro had better conduct, however con executed his statements and made sure he was convincing. Good debate chaps.
Vote Placed by JonMilne 4 years ago
JonMilne
ContradictionHonestDiscussionerTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro ignored a whole load of Con's valid arguments as to why SSM should be legal as detailed in Con's list of the 10+ arguments Pro didn't address, and I especially think that failure to adequately respond to the excellent points about the well being of HUMANS that matters as well as the fact that children being raised by gay couples need extra security, and Con also successfully refuted the really tired argument about marriage being all about procreation and raising children. Con also gets conduct as a result of Pro continually going "the resolution is affirmed" throughout the entire debate, which I found really irritating and should have been sort of the comment saved for Pro's actual conclusion. I will reluctantly remove the point I initially gave against Pro for sources, though I will consider his use of Regnerus to still be spectacularly bad form on his part considering how widely trashed by credible scholars its been, which further strengthens the conduct point for Con.
Vote Placed by 1Historygenius 4 years ago
1Historygenius
ContradictionHonestDiscussionerTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Sources are very balanced on is debate. I felt that Pro won the argument by defending his burden of proof very well. Con worked hard, but I felt he did not properly refute or convince that there are not secular reasons why gay marriage should be legal.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
ContradictionHonestDiscussionerTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro had the burden of proof, and the "special relationship to children" distinction didn't hold up. It argued more that marriage ought to be tied to the presence of children rather than to heterosexuals. Con's argument that conveying the legal status of marriage would also also convey the social benefits was weak. If true, then allowing a guy to legally marry his pickup truck would also lengthen his life, etc. Still, I think Con's argument that marriage has multiple purpose succeeded well enough to overcome Pro's case.
Vote Placed by Fanboy 4 years ago
Fanboy
ContradictionHonestDiscussionerTied
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Reasons for voting decision: The conduct is reasonably even, both sides are equal in terms of respectfullness. Up until the third round, HonestDiscussioner was clearly winning in the sources dept. however Contradiction stepped it up. Apologies to Jon, didn't realise Regarus was last round. On convincing arguments, I generally think that while HonestDiscussioner was trying to reply to the arguments that Pro put forward, he failed to actually address Pro's argument by simply begging the question. Therefore I have to Pro arguments.