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Category: Same-Sex Marriage
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
In response to my post, "The Essence of the Same-Sex Marriage Debate: Valid Exception?" (review my post here), Tocqueville invited me to read and respond to Anthony Esolen's "Ten Arguments for Sanity" as posted on Mere Comments last summer. I promised that I would, and I will. In the mean time, while I am thinking and reading, here is a more accessible version of Esolen's self-described "non religious arguments based on commonsense, history and logic":

Anthony Esolen: Ten Arguments for Sanity

1. The legalization of homosexual “marriages” would enshrine the sexual revolution in law.

2. It would, in particular, enshrine in law the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment, with which the society has nothing to do.

Extended explanations of 1-2 here.

3. It will drive a deeper wedge between man and woman.

4. It makes a mockery of chastity.

Extended explanations of 3-4 here.

5. It will curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained. This is particularly true of men.

6. It leaves us with no logical grounds for opposing any form of consensual intercourse among adults.

Extended explanations of 5-6 here.

7. It seals us in a culture of divorce.

8. It normalizes an abnormal behavior.

Extended explanations of 7-8 here.

9. In one crucial respect the social acceptance of homosexuality makes matters worse, not better, for the homosexual himself.

10. It spells disaster for children.

Extended explanations of 9-10 here.

On Saturday (March 31), C-SPAN2 (Book TV) presented a Gay Marriage Debate with David Blankenhorn, author of The Future of Marriage and Evan Wolfson, author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry. Pace Law School, in White Plains, NY, hosted the event.

Note: Currently C-SPAN does not have the program archive linked on its website; if that changes, I will add the link.

After watching a large portion of the exchange, here are a few observations about the larger ongoing debate concerning same-sex marriage:

Although Evan Wolfson would not agree with this, let us stipulate that procreation is at the center of marriage. Over time, the institution of marriage has consistently centered on creating strong families and facilitating the survival of the species. Specifically, marriage has proven an undeniable asset in producing, protecting, nurturing, and training the next generation of humanity. For this reason, communities have consistently promoted and protected marriage.

Two important caveats:

1. In addition to procreation, there are many other positive properties inherent in marriage. Procreation may be the most important positive element within the institution, but procreation is not the only attribute of marriage that makes a positive impact on society.

2. Because marriage benefits our community in myriad ways, we have extended the right to marry to non-procreators. We encourage men and women to marry and enjoy the advantages of marriage regardless of their capacity for reproduction. We allow infertile couples and couples past child-bearing years full rights of marriage, although we know they will not produce children.

Therefore, once we acknowledge that we regularly allow marriage outside of procreation, the key question becomes: should same-sex marriage be one of those non-procreation exceptions?

That is, the procreation test alone cannot determine the status of same-sex marriage; rather, the question of gay marriage is actually a question of equality, fairness, consistency, and the interest of the community.

On the other hand, proponents of same-sex marriage argue that prohibitions against same-sex marriage are discriminatory. In the C-SPAN debate, Mr. Wolfson advanced (again and again) a parallel between past American laws and traditions that discriminated against interracial marriage and the current proscriptions against same-sex unions.

Mr. Wolfson is right; barring same-sex couples from wedding is discrimination.

However, that is rhetorical legerdemain. Proponents are playing on our cultural tendency to "hear" all forms of discrimination as contemptible (making the facile analogy to our humiliating racial history further clouds and prejudices the discussion).

In truth, we discriminate all the time. Suspected terrorists are not allowed to board commercial jetliners. Extraordinarily tall people are not allowed to be Navy pilots. Students with certain SAT scores are not allowed admission to Harvard.

Certainly, in marriage, we discriminate as to who gets to marry. In many states, members of the same family cannot marry. States may establish an age of consent. We do not allow polygamy.

Are there compelling social reasons to discriminate against same-sex couples in granting marriage? If traditionalists are to prevail, they must bring more than procreation and/or biblical exegeses.

We have had a rich debate on this blog here (scroll down). Also, a recent reflection on marriage here.

The conversation is not merely worth having; the reality is that the debate over marriage looms large in our future as a national trial that we must confront.