Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Arguing Against SGM: The Punch - FAIL

The Punch is an Australian current affairs magazine.

One of their columnists attempted to write a non-religious argument against gay marriage

It boils down to two basic lines of argument - neither of which hold even a drop of water when subjected to scrutiny.

The first argument is that same-gender couples can't possibly have children. This is a very nice truism, but if you restrict marriage solely along the lines of procreative potential there's some serious problems.

The simple fact is that while some marriages do not produce children, no gay relationships can produce children. Children may be involved but they haven’t been produced as a result of the sexual relationship between the couple.

Throughout its clouded history, marriage has been as much about the provision of a future for a society (through children) as it has been about the relationship between a man and a woman. A gay relationship is not the same as a marriage in this regard.

Again, if one uses such a criterion for marriage, then one must assume that marriages involving Intersex individuals or those who are for one reason or another sterile must also be seen as invalid.

A gay relationship that is raising children - whether by adoption, or past relationships of one of the partners - is just as much about the "future of society" as a heterosexual relationship raising children. Who gave birth to those children is immaterial - there are plenty of children raised by step parents.

Similarly, if one is talking about "the future of society", we must also recognize that not every heterosexual couple produces children - whether by choice or fate. Those couples are no more the majority than same-gender couples are. To suggest that either represent any kind of "threat" to the continuation of society is ludicrous at best.

Those who argue that allowing homosexual couples to marry will somehow be detrimental to society's integrity are invited to look to Canada, Norway, Spain and other countries which have had allowed such marriages for several years now. I have yet to see any credible research to suggest that the handful of same-gender marriages that take place each year have had any such consequences.

As I said earlier, there are many long-standing, committed and loving gay relationships and I have no objection to some form of recognition by the state for those that seek it but I do not think that marriage and a gay relationship are the same thing. A gay relationship needs to be called something else.

Oh? Really? Are you prepared to go through every piece of legislation that references marriage and make appropriate references to this "alternate"? I doubt it, and it would be much more expensive than simply allowing the same term to cover both heterosexual and homosexual partnerships. Second, as "separate-but-equal" experiments in both Canada and the United States have shown, separate-but-equal schemes are seldom, if ever, actually equal.

Our definition of marriage as between a man and a woman is part of our cultural heritage as well as recognition of the uniqueness of the relationship. There’s no reason to change that.

Besides the fact that the author has utterly failed to demonstrate that there is even a smidgen of evidence to demonstrate the "uniqueness" of the heterosexual marriage relationship that truly distinguishes it from a homosexual marriage relationship.

Lastly, he fails completely to address the systemic social and legal discrimination that same-gender couples experience on a routine basis where SGM is not fully recognized in law. Among other issues that are not adequately considered are topics such as inheritance rights, access to loved partners who are hospitalized, decision making powers that would normally devolve to a spouse are assigned to parents or other members of the biological family who may be quite overtly hostile to the same-gender partner; numerous taxation rules change for married couples ... and the list goes on.

Let me be explicit here - as I said repeatedly during the debate here in Canada, we are talking about the legal construct of marriage, not its spiritual or religious forms. Arguments that fail to address the very legitimate issues of discrimination and unequal treatment that same-gender couples face are fundamentally empty arguments.

No comments: