The Instigator
Dmetal
Pro (for)
Losing
2 Points
The Contender
awatkins69
Con (against)
Winning
9 Points

gay marriage should be legal

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
awatkins69
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/20/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,292 times Debate No: 17151
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (2)

 

Dmetal

Pro

My argument will be based on two contentions: 1) liberty is a default position and 2) marriage is not natural.

1) Liberty is a default position in that we assume liberty unless given ample reason to place restrictions on it. In short, we give liberty and freedom the benefit of the doubt. This is not to say that liberty is unlimited.

2) Marriage of any kind is cultural and, therefore, unnatural. If there could be any kind of "natural" relationship between men and women, it would be one of promiscuity because we are not biologically monogamous.

I would conclude, therefore, that these contentions affirm the resolution. If we accept 1, then we must have ample reason to limit freedom, and if we accept 2, we must acknowledge that there is no biological, or natural, basis for marriage.
1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
awatkins69

Con

First off, thanks to pro for the debate. In this round I will do two things. First, I'll reply to my opponent's points. I will follow this with an argument against same sex marriage (SSM for short).

Pro's Argument
I think that pro's argument simply does not work. The first premise states, "Liberty is a default position in that we assume liberty unless given ample reason to place restrictions on it." In other words, if there are not good reasons for banning a practice, then it should be legal. This is unobjectionable as far as it goes, though it isn't particularly informative as well. We all know not to place restrictions on things for no reason.

The second premise says that, "Marriage of any kind is cultural and, therefore, unnatural." But how does it follow from the fact that something is cultural that it is unnatural? Though beans are a part of some cultures, it doesn't follow that they are unnatural. Maybe pro can elucidate more on what he means by terms such as "cultural" and "natural", and show the mutual exclusivity of the two.

A final problem is that the argument is just not valid. Even re-formulating it in the most charitable way I could think of:

(1) If there are not good reasons for banning a practice, then it should be legal.
(2) Marriage of any kind is un-natural.
(3) Therefore, gay marriage should be legal.

it simply doesn't work. In terms of logic, this is not a valid form at all. Maybe given the premise "If something is unnatural, then there is no good reason to ban it," we could turn this into an argument which is formally valid, though this premise seems definitely wrong. Either way, we don't really know what pro means by "natural" and "un-natural", so it's impossible to assess whether it's true or not.

In summary:
- The first premise is only trivially true.
- Something's being cultural doesn't imply that it's unnatural.
- The terms "cultural" and "unnatural" aren't well-defined.
- Something's being unnatural doesn't mean there are no good reasons to ban it.
- The argument isn't valid.

Hopefuly pro will be able to fix these problems up so we can have a better debate.

The Law Should Distinguish Heterosexual and Homosexual Unions:

(1) There are emotional, sexual, and parental goods which are exclusive to heterosexual union.
(2) If relationships of type X and type Y do not share the same goods, then X and Y are not equivalent.
(3) Therefore, heterosexual union and non-heterosexual union are not equivalent.
(4) Therefore, heterosexual union and homosexual union are not equivalent.
(5) If the law treats both heterosexual union and homosexual union as marriage, then the law is not distinguishing between things which are not equivalent.
(6) The law should distinguish between relationships which are not equivalent.
(7) Therefore, the law should not treat both heterosexual union and homosexual union as marriage.
(8) The law should treat heterosexual union as marriage.
(9) Therefore, the law should not treat homosexual union as marriage.

The basic idea of the argument is this. Heterosexual union has emotional, sexual and parental goods which aren't found in other types of relationships. These include the specific types of bonds a mother and father can jointly share with a child, the ability to engage in sexual relations which are inherently ordered toward reproduction, and others. Because of this they are not equivalent in nature to non-heterosexual unions, just as the fact that platonic friendships or business relationships have certain exclusive goods sufficiently establishes that they are not equivalent. But if these goods are exclusive to heterosexual union, this also establishes that heterosexual union and homosexual union are not equal. And just as the law distinguishes between friendship and business relationships due to their non-equivalence, it should do the same for heterosexual and homosexal relationships. Yet, if the law were to treat heterosexual and homosexual relationships as both being marriage in the exact same sense, it would not be distinguishing between relationships which are not equivalent. Hence, the state should only treat one of these as marriage. Now, most same-sex marriage proponents do not deny that the law should grant marriage to heterosexual couples. The state has a much more vital interest in upholding heterosexual union, as it is directly relevant to whether or not the society continues to grow or not. Hence,the law should treat heterosexual union as marriage and, in the spirit of making relevant distinctions, not do the same for homosexual unions.

Counter-sources: http://www.penang-traveltips.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Dmetal

Pro

Ill make this as brief as possible.

My opponent claims my first contention is "trivially true" and that "We all know not to place restrictions on things for no reason." Yes, I know that "we all know." That does not make it trivial or nonobjective. This is not a refutation of my first contention.

His dispute with my second contention is mostly unwarranted other than it is true that I did not define what I meant by culture and nature. I will do so. First, however, Con's analogy with beans is incorrect. Beans would be something I consider natural. How we use beans is something I consider cultural. For instance, we could use beans as money, or we could cook them in several different foods. I hope that puts culture and nature into some context. Culture I would define as the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action (http://dictionary.reference.com...). This is extremely broad, but it will suffice for this debate. Nature, on the other hand, is the material world, especially as surrounding humankind and existing independently of human activities (http://dictionary.reference.com...). Again, this is broad, but is socially acceptable. Culture is simply what humans do and nature is what humans do not do, but what we use.

Contention one works perfectly with the conclusion. Contention two works if we incorporate it in the correct way insofar as we may imagine one to argue that a reason for banning gay marriage is because it defies "nature," or that heterosexual marriages have some sort of innate benefit towards society that same-sex marriage cannot provide. This is a common argument I have heard, so that is why I included contention two. In short, the argument works if we accept the premises, which Con has failed to refute.
I will now deal with Con's argument as briefly as possible. Con's argument pretty much breaks down to two contentions: 1) the two unions are not equivalent, or the same; and 2) the state has more interest in heterosexual unions.

1) Con claims that the two unions are not equivalent in nature, analogizing the two relationships with friends and business partners. First, Con is conflating "sameness" with "equality." In some instances, the two are the same. In this instance, the two are not because we are not talking about the relationships by definition, which are not the same, we are talking about the legal rights of both groups. Second, Con's analogy is not valid. The government does not recognize friends and it only recognizes businesses insofar as requiring individuals to obtain a business license. Business partners can still be friends as well as a married couple. The only difference between these group is by definition within social context. The government does not dole out rights based on differences.

2) Con argues that the state has more interest in the heterosexual union because it is "directly relevant to whether or not the society continues to grow or not." This is completely untrue. First, the government does not require that people have children in a marriage; therefore, it is completely irrelevant to distinguish a marriage on whether or not it can bear children. Second, homosexuals can have children. Obviously, through different means such as artificial insemination and adoption, both of which heterosexual couples can use if they are infertile.

In short, Con's argument by definition is discriminatory. We could replace each variant of homosexual union with a variant of interracial couple, and one could not distinguish this argument from ones made by white supremacists to keep interracial marriage illegal. This is a civil rights issue!
awatkins69

Con

Thanks to pro for the reply.

Pro's Argument

Unfortunately, the argument that pro is putting forward is still unclear to me. It's not shown how the notions of "nature" and "culture" as defined help his case. Even if I grant that we should not place restrictions on practices without good reason, and that marriage of any kind is unnatural, how does it follow that the state should hand out gay marriages? First off, the argument isn't even valid, and pro still has not fixed this fact. Secondly, if anything, pro's case supports the view that the state shouldn't be giving out marriages at all. If pro is trying to argue that the state is limiting freedom by not giving gay marriage, it's not. By not giving gay marriages the state isn't preventing anyone from doing anything. So I still cannot see pro's line of argument. I'm still waiting for a valid argument where the conclusion follows from the premises.

Con's Argument

I don't think pro quite understood my argument, so I'll try to explain. What I am arguing is that the state ought to make relevant distinctions between relationships which are inherently different. We can understand whether a relationship X is different from a relationship Y if X and Y, by their very nature, have different goods which are intrinsic to them. So just as the relatonship of close friendship can be distinguished from the relationship of a business partnership by the different goods which are intrinsic to each type of relationship, so can we distinguish between heterosexual and homosexual union by the different goods which are intrinsic to each. This isn't to deny that one or more of these relationships might obtain between two people (though in some cases they may incompossible); a wife can also be a business partner. It's just to say that they can be distinguished.

As for the second point pro brings up, I should note first of all that my contention, that the state should support hetersexual marriage, is prima facie quite plausible. In order to accept this you need not explicitly deny that, therefore, the state should deny same-sex marriage. It only follows given my other premises. I'd still support my claim that the state's most vital interest is in supporting heterosexual union, given that the vast majority of sexual unions take place between heterosexuals, that heterosexual couples are the most common way that children are produced, as well as the fact that heterosexual couples can engage in the type of union which is intrinsically ordered toward reproduction (though female homosexual can reproduce artificially, by a sperm donation of a third party, it's still not intrinsically ordered toward reproduction). Either way, pro has to either say that heterosexual union should be enshrined as marriage, or heterosexual union should not be enshrined as marriage. So which is it, pro? Do you or do you not think that the state should support heterosexual union as marriage.

Pro also makes the point that my argument could be used just as well against inter-racial unions. That's not true. There is nothing intrinsic an qua heterosexual union that could be used to separate inter-racial couples from non-inter-racial couples. All the goods available by marriage are available in the same way to a white-black couple and white-white couple.

Finally, pro calls my arguments discriminatory. So be it. To discriminate is simply to note or observe a difference between two things, and the state should do this; indeed, the state has to do this if it's to carry out any functions at all, which is what my sixth premise states. The state discriminates between convicts and the innocent, between combatants and non-combatants, between adults and children. There is nothing wrong with discrimination in this sense. What is wrong is unjust discrimination, and thus far my opponent has failed to provide any valid argument as to why we should not discriminate between heterosexual and homosexual couples in this sense.
Debate Round No. 2
Dmetal

Pro

I forgot to thank Con for accepting the debate. Thanks!
Again, I'll keep this as short as possible.

My argument goes as follow:

1) Liberty is a default position in that we assume liberty unless given ample reason to place restrictions on it. (In short, we give liberty and freedom the benefit of the doubt. This is not to say that liberty is unlimited.)

2) Marriage of any kind is cultural (and, therefore, unnatural. If there could be any kind of "natural" relationship between men and women, it would be one of promiscuity because we are not biologically monogamous.)
Words in parentheses are for further explanation. They are not actually part of the contentions.

Therefore, same-sex marriage should be legal. As I thought was commonly known, most states presently restrict same-sex marriages.

The first contention works perfectly, and Con has yet to refute it. The second contention was, more or less, added preemptively, and I was correct: Con attempted to naturalize heterosexual unions. For example he says, "There are emotional, sexual, and parental goods which are exclusive to heterosexual union." Exclusive implies that heterosexuals have a "natural" quality that homosexuals do not. This focuses on the group rather than the individual merit of the parents, regardless of sexual orientation. If we accept contention two, which Con has failed to refute, we must accept the cultural foundation, and further subjectivity, of marriage. That is, there are no "natural" marriages in which to compare other concepts of marriage. This would make Con's entire argument invalid because he claims that relationships such as marriage have intrinsic value. This is simply untrue. The relationships are different in definition, but the relationships in themselves have no intrinsic value. For instance, bad parents are bad parents because they do not care for their children (i.e. they abuse or neglect their children). Their sexual orientation has nothing to do with it. Any goods provided by any couple, or anyone for that matter, would be provided on an individual basis.

Con raises a good point, however, on whether or not marriage should be recognized by the government at all. That is another debate entirely and not part of this one.

Con had several options in which to attack my argument. He could have argued that same-sex marriages in someway deserved to be unrecognized based on some sort of wrongdoing. Instead, Con has focused his energy on arguing for discrimination against same-sex marriages.
Con attempted to legitimize discrimination with several incorrect examples. The definition of discrimination would be as follows:
treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination (http://dictionary.reference.com...).
This definition is more widely used and accepted in a social context. Con's usage,"To discriminate is simply to note or observe a difference between two things...," would be more fitting outside a social context. I will address 2 points regarding Con's argument for discrimination.

1) "The state discriminates between convicts and the innocent, between combatants and non-combatants, between adults and children."
First, it is more correct to call these examples distinctions. Second, none of these violate my first contention; that is, they all have sufficient reason (except maybe adults and children because the age was only moved to eighteen so more troops could die in Vietnam). Nevertheless, adults and children are not discriminated against in such a way that could be comparable to the distinction (and further discrimination) made between homosexuals and heterosexuals.
2) "What is wrong is unjust discrimination, and thus far my opponent has failed to provide any valid argument as to why we should not discriminate between heterosexual and homosexual couples in this sense."
This goes against my first contention, which Con has failed to refute. We need sufficient reason to limit freedom and should not assume that we must discriminate between any groups unless there is sufficient reason. It appears, however, that Con means to use "distinction" instead of "discrimination".

In fact, Con's argument is based on distinction (concluding in discrimination). No one is saying that the two marriages are the same; homosexuals along with heterosexual allies are asking for equal recognition under the law. Thus far, Con has failed to provide a sufficient reason other than definitional differences in which to limit freedoms.
awatkins69

Con

Thanks to pro for the debate.

As regards pro's argument, he hasn't changed it and, as such, it still remains invalid. Even given that there is no reason to restrict the liberty of homosexuals (which I haven't challenged in this debate), and given that marriage of any kind is cultural, it does not logically follow that the state should hand out gay marriages. Pro would have to have added some other sort of premise to make it work deductively. Either way, by not handing out marriages to homosexuals the state isn't prohibiting our limiting people's liberty at all. Being unmarried isn't a restriction, so his first premise doesn't support his case. The second premise (marriage's being "cutural") without some sort of additional premise doesn't support the argument that same-sex marriage should be handed out by the state.

As for my argument, pro hasn't successfully challenged it. Pro appears to be denying that homosexual relationships and heterosexual relationships, as such, have any intrinsic value or good. If that's really the case, then it's hard to see why the state has any duty or obligation to give marriage to anybody, let alone homosexuals. The state doesn't have to give value to something without any value.

Pro also continues with the claim that my argument counts as being in discrimination. I'm happy to call it discrimination, so long as we go with the first definition found on his website (http://dictionary.reference.com...) which is "to note or observe a difference; distinguish accurately: to discriminate between things." I've given an argument to show why my discrimination doesn't count as unjust discrimination. Pro even admits, "No one is saying that the two marriages are the same." But that's just to grant my premise 3, that the two are not equivalent in nature. Given that premise, and 4-8, which he has left unchallenged, the concusion logically follows, meaning that my argument is sound. Since my opponent has not challenged any of those premises, I believe I've laid out the best case, and hence, one should vote con.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by awatkins69 5 years ago
awatkins69
A rather "queer" phenomenon huh? (LOL!)
Posted by Illegalcombatant 5 years ago
Illegalcombatant
Seems to be alot of gay marriage debates going around eh.
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
Robert P. George:

-Swarthmore College (BA)
-Harvard Law School (JD) <--- bingo
-Harvard Divinity School (MTS)
-Oxford University (DPhil)
Posted by Freeman 5 years ago
Freeman
Meh... I'll stick with the guys who have law degrees. :P
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
I beg to differ :P -- http://www.nytimes.com...
Posted by Freeman 5 years ago
Freeman
"And here I am today. Looking back, his arguments/counterarguments were quite weak and easily refuted."

Perhaps. But you're not standing on the shoulders of giants like I am. http://www.pbs.org...

I'll take the combined weight on the Lawrence case, the Romer case, the Loving case, the Reitman case and Bowen vs. Gilliard over anything you've got.
Posted by drmigit2 5 years ago
drmigit2
most people on here are liberal and support gay marriage, getting someone to go against you on this is going to be near impossible. xD
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
Haha, how I got into this issue is rather interesting. I actually wasn't interested in this topic at all until one of my homosexual friends (No longer a friend, unfortunately) asked me my views on marriage. I told him what I believed, and he was rather irritated and started attacking my position. He would bring it up literally every time we had a discussion. So, I started pouring into research. In my early days, he kept attacking my arguments with precision. Well, over time, the tide started to turn.

And here I am today. Looking back, his arguments/counterarguments were quite weak and easily refuted.
Posted by Freeman 5 years ago
Freeman
@Contradiction

You must be really intent on making sure gays and lesbians can't marry. ---->
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
Tempting...
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Dmetalawatkins69Tied
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Total points awarded:24 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro instigates then shifts BoP and creates a strawman. Con argues on special recognition, an argument which is very popular on DDO now and it is only weakly responded to and again with mostly assertion. 4:2 Con.
Vote Placed by ExNihilo 5 years ago
ExNihilo
Dmetalawatkins69Tied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: 1. Pro argument is invalid and awatkins points this out. 2. Con points out that even if pro is correct, its not a reason why gay marriage should be legal, but that there should be no marriage at all. 3. The "value" argument clearly goes con.