f The Wittenberg Door: Same-Sex Marriage and State Interest

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Same-Sex Marriage and State Interest

Our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation," George wrote for the majority. "An individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.

According to the California Supreme Court, marriage rights should be conferred upon same-sex couples because they can establish loving, long-term, committed relationships. Not to do so would be the same as denying fundamental rights to citizens based solely upon their skin color.

Loving, Long-Term, Committed Relationships

I love Frank Capra’s 1944 adaptation of Arsenic and Old Lace. It’s one of my favorite movies. So it's with great trepidation that I add this modern twist: What if the Brewsters lived somewhere in California instead of Brooklyn, New York; and one day, the sisters, Abby and Martha, hear on the radio that same-sex, loving, long-term couples can now receive the same benefits that married couples receive. Seeing as how they are of the same sex, they love each other, and they have pledged to spend their lives together, they must be eligible, right? Not so fast.

There’s a problem—they’re not having sex. The government is not interested in their loving, lifelong, same-sex relationship unless the wild mambo is involved. So out came plan B: Elaine.

Elaine, the minister’s daughter, moves in with the Brewster sisters; and since Elaine is looking to offset some gambling losses (she was sure Michigan could take North Carolina), she’s willing to have sex for money (i.e., tax benefits).

“But wait,” says the government! “We have some arbitrary rules to apply: sisters don’t count, and it can’t be three people, and Elaine is already married to Mortimer, so she’s out ...”

“But we love each other! Isn't it all about love?"

As this little exercise in reductio ad absurdam reveals, the court’s ruling is logically vacuous.

Is Homosexuality the Same as Ethnicity?

As the Los Angeles Times points out, “The ruling cited a 60-year-old precedent that struck down a ban on interracial marriage in California.” In the court’s mind, ethnicity and homosexuality are on the same moral plain. But is this the case?

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ethnicity is white. He was born that way and can do nothing to change it. His ethnicity is intrinsic to him. Consequently he had—and has—no choice in the matter. Those with homosexual desires, on the other hand, have a choice as to whether or not to act upon those desires. The latter is morally relevant, while the former is not. Thus ethnicity and homosexuality are not on the same moral plain (one involves choice and the other does not—one is intrinsic and the other a behavior). And since the state should only treat equals equally, it is in fact immoral to judicially conflate the two.

State Interest

The State should only have an interest in two types of contractual relationships: corporations and heterosexual marriages. The first because the State is required to regulate commerce (section 8, clause 3 of the constitution); and the second because it is the best way for it, the State, to perpetuate itself.

Mommies and daddies are from where the next generation of citizens will come. And the best environment for the raising of responsible citizens is a married, monogamist, heterosexual household. Married and monogamist because that brings stability to the home; heterosexual because both the mother and the father bring something in particular to the childrearing enterprise.

This unit is the best way to secure society’s future. Therefore, the State has an interest in favoring and protecting marriage between a man and a woman. It has no such interest in same-sex unions.



Blogger Nat G said...

"In the court’s mind, ethnicity and homosexuality are on the same moral plain."

Your logic fails there. What they are saying is the miscegenation and homosexuality are on the same plane, or that race and gender are on the same plane. If Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to marry Denzel Washington under the laws of 1950, California law would've had two problems with that - that Arnold was white, and that he was male, neither of which he chose. Given that he was a white male, he could've chosen to involve himself with a white partner just as he could've chosen to involve himself with a woman.

And as for the validity of the state preventing mixed-race marriages: much of the argument against legalizing them was that it wasn't the best arrangement for bringing about the next generation.

6:49 PM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Greetings, Nat. You and I are in agreement as to their claim: that race (which is what miscegenation is all about) and homosexuality are morally equivalent. What I did in my post was to demonstrate that they’re not (i.e., one involves choice and the other does not—one is intrinsic and the other a behavior). Now maybe I’m wrong, but simply claiming that my logic fails doesn’t show that my logic fails (nor does merely restating their claim).

One other thing regarding your comment: There is no intrinsic difference between a black man and a white man, except for the amount of melanin in their skin. But there are huge differences between the sexes. Therefore, to equate the two is a category error and thus fallacious. So it seems to me that it is your side employing failed logic.

Thanks for stopping by.

2:22 PM  

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