Brad Pitt, Proposition 8, and Same-Sex Marriage
From The Wittenberg Door archives . . .
Because no one has the right to deny another their life, even though they disagree with it, because everyone has the right to live the life they so desire if it doesn't harm another and because discrimination has no place in America, my vote will be for equality and against Proposition 8.
Statement by Brad Pitt published in the Los Angeles Times
Above, actor-turned-activist Brad Pitt provides his rational for opposing California’s Proposition 8 (voter-approved amendment resolving that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”). But is Mr. Pitt’s position warranted? To deduce that we’ll have to take a closer look at his argument, presented below in syllogistic form (the unstated minor premises are included parenthetically):
No one has the right to deny another their life, even though they disagree with it.
(Prop 8 deprives people of their life.)
Everyone has the right to live the life they want, as long as it doesn’t harm another.
(Prop 8 deprives people of the right to live the life they want and doesn’t harm anyone.)
Discrimination and inequality have no place in America.
(Prop 8 [unjustly] discriminates against same sex couples.)
Therefore, my vote will be for equality and against Prop. 8
Valid vs. Sound Arguments
Mr. Pitt’s argument is valid, meaning the conclusion follows deductively from the premises. The question, however, is whether his argument is sound. For an argument to be sound it not only must be valid but it must also only comprise true premises. So, to find out if Mr. Pitt’s argument is sound, we must look at each of the premises. But, for the purposes of brevity, we’ll only look at the minor premises.
Prop 8 Deprives People of Their Life
On this one I’d have to ask Mr. Pitt for clarification. Since Prop. 8 is neither calling for the execution nor the incarceration of homosexuals, I don’t know what he means. Unless he believes that homosexuals will lose the will to live without government affirmation of their relationships. (Of course this wouldn’t be a deprivation of life, but a forfeiture.)
Prop 8 Deprives People of the Right to Live the Life They Want and Doesn’t Harm Anyone
Prop. 8 doesn’t deprive homosexuals of their same-sex relationships; it only deprives them of government favor. The question, however, is this: Do same-sex relationships deserve such favor? We’ll return to this question later in the post.
The second part of the proposition is whether or not same-sex marriage harms anyone. The answer is, it depends. Here’s why: If same-sex couples are afforded the same status as traditional marriage, then there seems no reason not to allow them to adopt children. This is where the harm comes in. Children deserve opposite-sex parents, because both the mother and the father contribute uniquely to the child’s life. When there’s a choice involved, society should always do what’s best for the child. Hence, the answer to the question of harm would be yes.
Prop 8 [Unjustly] Discriminates Against Same Sex Couples
I inserted the word “unjustly” because not all discrimination is bad. (Wouldn’t you discriminate against a pedophile should he ask to be your babysitter?) So the question is this: Do same-sex couples deserve the same societal favor that traditional marriages enjoy? The answer is no. Here’s why . . .
A civilization has an interest in perpetuating itself, which is from where the interest in opposite-sex marriage comes: it is the best way for it, the civilization, to perpetuate itself.
Mommies and daddies are from where the next generation of citizens 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, as mentioned earlier, 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, civilization has an interest in favoring and protecting marriage between a man and a woman. It has no such interest in same-sex unions.
As we’ve seen, Mr. Pitt’s argument withers under scrutiny and reveals itself to be unsound. Prop. 8 does not deprive homosexuals of their lives, nor does it keep them from living the life they want. However, it does help adopted children by not elevating the status of same-sex couples. And finally, Prop. 8 does not unfairly discriminate against same-sex couples, because society has no compelling interest in favoring their unions as it does in traditional marriages.