What Is Marriage?

I ask those proponents of same-sex marriage (S-SM) this question: what is marriage?  This is not some glib rhetorical question.  The responses from the previous commentaries have me scratching my head and wondering what it is S-SM advocates believe marriage’s purpose is.  I must ask because there seems to be a conflict in the way things are and what they claim to want.

In Répondez S’il Vous Plaît I respond to an op-ed piece on NYTimes.com by Rich Benjamin where he makes his case for boycotting the weddings of his heterosexual family and friends.  He states:

When I ask my gay friends why they wish to marry, they don’t mention tax benefits. They seek marriage for the same personal reasons that straight people do: to share life’s triumphs and trials with their beloved, to start a family, to have the ability to protect that family, and to celebrate their loving commitment with a wedding.

I am inclined to believe Benjamin.  I think the vast majority of homosexuals who seek to wed do so for much of the same reasons heterosexuals seek to wed.  They seem to desire a loving committed relationship, memorialized with a ceremony in the presence of their loved ones.  I tend to believe it is not the financial benefits which drive this issue.  However, if this is all the issue is about, then there need not be legal S-SM or civil unions in every State because:

  • It is nowhere prohibited for two consenting adults to make life-long commitments to each other.
  • It is nowhere prohibited for two consenting adults to make their commitment before family and friends.
  • It is nowhere prohibited to make that commitment in a religiously contextualized ceremony.  (There is no shortage of clergy who would be willing to perform a wedding ceremony for homosexuals)
  • It is nowhere prohibited to describe the ceremony as a wedding.
  • It is nowhere prohibited for same-sex partners to refer to each other as “husband” or “wife” regardless of their gender.

In the following article, Authorized Personnel Only, I make the case that though it might appear as if laws prohibiting S-SM discriminate against people, that is not the case.  The laws discriminate against desires (i.e. the desire to marry a person of the same-sex), but not people.  Marriage laws, apply in the same way to all people regardless of emotional status or sexual attraction of the perspective newly weds (i.e. a currently unwed person can marry one person, of the opposite sex, who is not of close relation [as defined by the individual State], who is currently free to marry [i.e. not currently married]).  Put another way, marriage laws regulate the participants, not their feelings.

The government is not concerned with the emotional status or sexual attraction of the to-be-wed.  There are no questions on the marriage licence asking if the parties are in love, or attracted to one another, or if the couple even plans on having a sexual relationship.  By seeking to amend the marriage laws, advocates for S-SM, in principle are demanding the government care about the emotional status of those applying to be married.

So I ask advocates of S-SM: If in every State regardless of the legal status of S-SM, the kind of marriage advocates seek is available to homosexual couples wishing to marry; and if Benjamin is correct in why homosexuals seek to marry; why must marriage laws be amended?  What is marriage, and what is its purpose?


  1. I think the concept of marriage is different to everyone.

    It is my opinion, that marriage is a symbol of love.

    Marriage is not sacred, love is sacred. If two people want to symbolize their love officially, they should be able to.

    Marriage has been watered down into laws, taxes, and religious ceremonies–a bunch of meaningless, voodoo-hoodoo and legal documents.

    I don’t think there should be extra perks for married couples. I think it should be more difficult to get married than to get divorced, legally speaking–and I don’t think anyone needs some person in a robe to bless the wedding.

    The only ammendment that ought to be made to marriage, is it should be a daunting, time-consuming process so that there will be fewer couples going into it with uncertainty, and an overall drop in the divorce rate.

    Marriage has become almost meaningless to those who can legally be married, and yet these same people would deny that privelege to a gay couple. How odd.

    I don’t think it should even be a debate.

    • In all fairness, your ideal marriage enterprise is already available to everyone regardless ofe S-SM laws. The only prohibition is the financial benefits. But that is not the argument being made. The demands which are being made are for the ceremonial and social aspects of marriage, and no one is denied that.

      • saridout says:

        not true. anybody can have a ceremony, it’s the government recognition that gay couples want and are being denied.

  2. I was just expressing my view. I suppose if I was a lesbian and my partner and I were of some religious denomination, I’d probably want our symbolic gesture of love to be accepted by the people of my faith.

    Luckily for me, I am neither gay nor religious.

    If people stood outside my wedding with anti-gay signs, I’d probably feel pretty demeaned and hurt. It happens.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about free speech, but I don’t understand the hate it takes to protest someone’s civil union and ruin their special day.

    Perhaps it goes beyond marriage, maybe homosexuals just want social acceptence like any other couple has.

    Sure, marriage has some financial perks–but heterosexuals can get married under false pretenses for those perks. So why not get rid of the perks and recognize all unions?

    • I know what you mean, I would never endorse protesting a wedding, funeral or what have you, just because the participants hold to a different worldview. It shows a lack of class, and is a poor representation of what it is you claim to stand for. It’s difficult to win people to your side when you yell and insult them.

      Unfortunately, there are many “christian” denominations and individual churches which are affirming and accepting of homosexual sexual relationships, so finding acceptance and support is not the issue either. I say unfortunately because it really is an unbiblical stance. Whether you grant the Bible authority or not, it says what it says. You don’t have to agree, but don’t pretend it says things it doesn’t.

      I’m not making a religious or biblical argument here, just addressing your comment, so theres no need to get into the ins and outs of what the Bible does or doesn’t say on the issue. In fact, I like to keep religious or biblical arguments out of my discussions on same-sex marriage and abortion with non-Christians, which is why you don’t see those kinds of arguments here.

  3. Dan Trabue says:

    Marriage is at least two things.

    1. It is a covenant between two adults who are committing to one another and their community to be faithful, respectful and loving to one another.

    2. It is the legal agreement recognized by the state that two individuals are forming one household. This legal agreement comes with some benefits that other types of “couples” are denied.

    Right now, gay folk have the option of participating in the former but are denied the latter based on unjustly discriminatory laws/regulations.

    Fair enough?

    • No, not fair enough. Homosexual males are epidemiclly promiscuous, and marriagr does not reign that in according to every study on the issue. The rate of sexually transmitted disease among homosexuals is exponentially higher than their heterosexual counterparts, that is in addition to the other physically debilitating issues homosexuals deal with due to the common sexual practices. The emotional and psychological problems within the homosexual community is exponentially higher EVEN IN COMMUNITIES which are highly sympathetic and supportive of homosexuality.

      The government should not encourage such destructive behavior. You seem to be unwilling to deal with those facts (not coincidences). Until you are, I am unwilling to discuss the issue with you. You have shown yourself to be one who is very inwilling to deal with the issue at hand and consistently tries to shift the discussion. I wont be playing that game any longer.

      Fair enough?

      • saridout says:

        This is a ridiculous argument. You can’t simultaneously condemn gay people for being promiscuous while denying them a method to enter into long-term, monogamous commitments. I just stumbled upon this blog, and thought that even though i disagreed with you, you were trying to be unbiased, but i think this comment reveals your true colors. You’re just spewing the same conservative talking points that i’ve heard a thousand times before that have no basis in reality.

        You say that the government should not encourage gay behavior as if it’s something that will decrease without government sanction. Gay people are here to stay, and the government has a legitimate interest in encouraging long term relationships among them and among the straight population.

        • What civil motivation does the government have in endorsing same sex relationships? Heterosexual relationships principly continue the society by bringing in the next generation of citizens.

          Both you and Dan T. claim government endorsed same-sex marriage promotes long-term monogamous relationships for same-sex couples. Since same-sex couples can already engage in every aspect of marriage except tax and other insurance incentives, what is it about financial incentives that create a sudden urge to be monogamous? Since private”marriage” ceremonies do not seem to produce monogamy.

          STDs do not affect the principle and purpose of marriage like promiscuity does.

      • I think anyone who is brought up to believe that being gay is wrong would have psychological issues. Promiscuity is linked to being traumatized and / or shamed throughout life. Ask any pregnant teenager, person with PTSD, or people who have been divorced multiple times. It’s a problem with developing unhealthy coping mechanisms because of psychological trauma, not the result of sexual preference.

        Considering the government drugs about 80% of children in foster care with psychotropic medication, takes handouts from lobbyists at the voters’ expense, and invests in war instead of education and nutrition–I don’t think gay marriage can hold a candle to what our government endorses. Politicians are only interested in themselves. If they cared about social degradation, then veterans wouldn’t live on the street, social programs for those in need wouldn’t be getting slashed, education budgets wouldn’t get slashed, and the gap between the rich and poor wouldn’t keep growing, and politicians would have some integrity–but they don’t have integrity and they would exploit their own grandmothers if it meant getting two more nickels to rub together.

        The government exploits people. The only reason gay marriage is a debate is because it distracts the average person from realizing how badly they are being manipulated by the people they entrust their way of life to.

  4. Dan Trabue says:

    For my part, if the state wanted to get out of the marriage regulation business, that would be one way to put an end to the unjust discrimination portion of this problem.

    Then, groups and churches that believe in the benefits of marriage for all people can support marriage equity for all and those who don’t can continue to dwindle away.

    What do you think?

  5. rautakyy says:

    John Barron Jr, did you marry your wife for love? If you did, why would not other adults be allowed the same benefit for the same reason?

  6. Dan Trabue says:


    Homosexual males are epidemiclly promiscuous, and marriagr does not reign that in according to every study on the issue…. The government should not encourage such destructive behavior.

    Do you also believe that encouraging being clean equals encouraging being dirty? That encouraging being kind is the same as encouraging being mean?

    Do you see the problem in your statement? In order to not sound nonsensical, you’d have to explain how encouraging a behavior actually encourages the OPPOSITE behavior.

    Do you understand how that makes no sense?

    Further, you seem to be making a hideous stereotype: That gays are innately incapable of being moral people and that ENCOURAGING/SUPPORTING them being more moral will only result in them engaging in MORE IMMORALITY.

    Do you think that “the gays” are fundamentally different than normal human beings? That heterosexuals are somehow more morally pure and able to make good decisions than homosexuals are?

    There is no study to support that sort of attitude, if so. You’re stepping beyond science into irrational demonization of a whole group of people, just as Glenn did in the previous post.

    Do you KNOW any gay folk, John? Family members, close friends, anyone? They’re just folk, like you, entirely as capable as you are of making good decisions (and as entirely prone to making errors as you are).

    So, then, to reiterate: IF the gov’t ends discriminatory practice and we SUPPORT/ALLOW marriage equity (which is the ENCOURAGEMENT of monogamy and fidelity), then we are NOT “encouraging such destructive behavior,” don’t you see that?

    It comes down to this simple notion:


    What you are saying makes no logical or grammatical sense. You are speaking an “anti-tautology.”

    • Yes I do, family and friends both, and I stand by my initial statement. You again prove yourself to be one who ignores the facts of the matter and instead argue from speculation and theory. Marriage and self described long term commitment by self described homosexuals does not reduce promiscuity by a significant degree.

      Now your next comment had better produce studies which show reduction of promiscuity and disease among homosexuals who are married, or had better be unmistakably on topic or I start moderating.

      How dare you put the implied idea here that I don’t think homosexuals are not the same as “normal human beings”. I had only recently relaxed my usually tight grip on requiring discussion to be on the specific topic. But my patience is worn as thin as wet toilet paper with you.

  7. Dan Trabue says:

    John, I’m sorry I must not be communicating myself very well. I’m not trying to be difficult. I’m trying to understand your positon.

    You SEEM to be saying something that is nonsensical to me, and maybe I’m just not smart enough to get what you’re saying and it’s just flying over my head. Help me to understand, please?

    To be fair, I think you must think you are answering my question. You must think that when I ask, “Where is the harm in promoting fidelity?” that a study that shows gay folk are more promiscuous is somehow an answer, but I can’t see how that is an answer.

    Do you understand my confusion as to your answers? It just does not seem to make sense, at least to me.

    As to studies that show that encouraging fidelity actually encourages fidelity? I can’t find any – not for gay folk, not for straight folk.

    Do you think then, in the absence of my ability to find a study that supports the notion that encouraging fidelity for straight folk means that encouraging straight folk to be faithful actually encourages them to be UNfaithful? I can’t see how that would make sense, for gay folk or straight folk.

    I am sorry for not being able to communicate what I’m saying very well, but that must be the case, because you truly do not seem to be seeing the problem I’m having in understanding what seems to be a wholly irrational opinion you’re stating. I’m honestly trying and believe with some straightforward answers to questions, we might help understand one another’s positions better.

    For instance, could you just answer a straightforward question directly, so that I understand your position?

    Are you saying that you think that encouraging fidelity and monogamy will result in infidelity and promiscuity?


  8. Dan Trabue says:


    How dare you put the implied idea here that I don’t think homosexuals are not the same as “normal human beings”.

    And once again, I apologize if I’ve been unclear. What I said was IT SEEMS like you’re making that suggestion. I then followed with QUESTIONS to help me understand your position better. My point was not an accusation, it was clarification. My question…

    Do you think that “the gays” are fundamentally different than normal human beings?

    Was meant to help me clarify and understand your position. So now, you’ve answered. You DON’T think that gay folk are fundamentally different than others, right? Well, good, then we agree.

    And so, perhaps you see why I’m confused as to your position and could use some clarification. You SEEM TO BE SAYING that gay folk CAN’T be encouraged to be more monogamous and faithful. Help me out, John: Is that what you’re saying? That encouraging fidelity and monogamy among gay folk won’t work? If not, do you think that encouraging fidelity with straight folk WILL work and, if so, why do you think it will work with one group and not the other?

    I hope you see I’m just trying to understand your position and make sense of it. I’m not trying to make accusations and I’m sorry if it is coming across that way.

  9. Dan Trabue says:

    As to studies, I’m not so sure what the evidence is. I’ve seen reports that the average (or mean) number of sexual partners for gay men is 6, while the mean number of sexual partners for straight men is 7.

    I’ve also seen studies that show that lesbians tend to have fewer sexual partners that straight women. I’m in the process of trying to find some scholarly sources for that now (I’m finding a lot of sources from either conservative groups or pro-gay groups and am looking for something more neutral.

    So, to begin with, I’m not so sure about the evidence as to promiscuity. I hope you can appreciate that I’m striving to find numbers from a reliable source, rather than one with a potential agenda?

    I see this listed on wikipedia (which references a 1994 study)…

    A 1994 study in the United States, which looked at the number of sexual partners in a lifetime, found that 20% of heterosexual men had 1, 55% had 2–20, and 25% had 20 or more.

    I’m trying to find a reliable study for gay men and will let you know my results. One problem that I see from some studies is that the researchers – in an effort to find gay men (and being such a small minority, you could see how that would be tricky) went to places like gay bars to conduct their studies. I hope you could see how doing research at such places would likely skew results higher than if they were asking the same questions of gay men in churches, for instance.

    For the record, anecdotally, the gay folk at my church ARE quite faithful and monogamous so (and it feels ridiculous for me to even say this) you can see that it IS possible to encourage fidelity, at least anecdotally, right?

  10. Dan Trabue says:


    I don’t believe for a second that you don’t understand, you just don’t agree.

    You don’t think that I’m honestly confused by someone saying “encouraging fidelity will encourage infidelity…”? I’m sorry you feel that way, it’s my actual position: I DO find such a seemingly contradictory message confusing.

    John, please, consider for just a moment: If I said that “Encouraging straight married men to be faithful to their wives will encourage them to be UN-faithful,” wouldn’t you find that an odd statement?

    Please answer so I can better understand your position. Why wouldn’t you answer these sorts of straightforward questions?

    • That’s the problem, I never said encouraging fideliry encourages infidelity, those are more words you put in my mouth that you are arguing against.

      What I have said is promiscuity is rampant in the homosexual community, longterm relationships and marriage where allowed have not curbed that.

  11. Dan Trabue says:


    I never said encouraging fideliry encourages infidelity, those are more words you put in my mouth that you are arguing against.

    Well, thanks for answering the question. I ask questions when I’m trying to find answers. Thus, I wasn’t striving to “put words in your mouth” but rather, to clarify your position so I could understand it. Sorry if it sounded that way, but it was not my intention.

    So, now maybe we’re getting somewhere!

    We AGREE then, that encouraging fidelity does not mean we’re encouraging infidelity.

    Do we ALSO agree, then, that ENCOURAGING fidelity and monogamy can actually result in people being more faithful and monogamous?

    And please note: That is a question seeking an answer, not an attempt to put words in your mouth. This is a critical point to your question here, it seems to me. IF we agree that a good marriage entails fidelity and monogamy AND we can agree that we can take steps to support and encourage fidelity and monogamy, then we got a whole big gob of agreement going on!

    How about it?

  12. Dan Trabue says:

    I’m reviewing your studies, thanks for the heads up.

    Right off, though, I see a problem. The Bell/Weisberg study from 1978 (a much more promiscuous decade for gay and straight folk than average, it would seem) is problematic for a few reasons…

    The sampling of the homosexuals in the study was not random, and they admit as much. The heterosexual sample was random, using census data and land tracts to ensure a random sample, but not the homosexual sample.

    Another problem is the one I mentioned earlier: They got their sample from non-representative places, gay bars, singles clubs, want ads, skewing the results higher.

    Still, I will check out your sources further. Understand, though, that my not blindly trusting your sources is not an indictment of you or the sources, just healthy skepticism. No offense intended, I hope you can appreciate that.

    Nonetheless, I don’t see how, EVEN IF gay folk are more promiscuous (a point about which I have my doubts), encouraging non-promiscuity, fidelity, monogamy… how this could possibly be a bad thing?

    The flip side of the whole gay folk are promiscuous coin is to consider this: For centuries, we have demonized gay folk, kicked them out of our churches, banished them to dark corners, told them faithful relationships are NOT for them and told them they’re evil and, as a result, some have embraced that licentious tag and lived up to what the church told them was true: Would it be surprising then that those we’ve treated thusly have rejected church “morality” and gone the other way? I don’t think so.

  13. How about this question, John…

    There is a certain segment of society that is more promiscuous than others. There are some heterosexual and some homosexual men that are especially promiscuous. Is that a fair statement?

    FOR THOSE MEN (gay and straight), do you agree with me that it would be a good thing to encourage them to be more faithful, to settle down and be monogamous? That IF they are going to continue to want to engage in sexual activity, that they would benefit from settling down, and becoming part of a loving, respectful, monogamous, committed, healthy adult relationship?

    Do you further agree that it’s generally rational to support such behavior in place of the less responsible more promiscuous behavior?

    • Well, Dan, the proportions of promiscuity are disproportionately high in homosexual men than heterosexual men, so to use the ambiguous quantifier “some” doesn’t accurately represent the reality of that issue.

      Further, you argue from the foundational standpoint that homosexual sexual relationships are morally benign or morally good, I do not, so until you work that into your questions I do not agree.

      Whether that is intentional in order to get the discussion in a place where you put me in a position of having to argue against things you have rhetorically “forced” me to agree with making my position contradictory, I cannot say. However I have seen your method of debate before and I find it deceptive. Politicians do it. You and they try to reduce the argument to some basic principle to the exclusion of essential details.

      • saridout says:

        Following this logic, since men are statistically more promiscuous than women, men should not be allowed to get married. Black people have higher overall STD rates, so obviously they should not be able to marry each other. Young people are much more likely to have chlamydia, so no one under 45 should be allowed to marry.

        If you use STD rates and nebulous ideas like promiscuity to determine who should and shouldn’t get married, you’ll eventually end up with one group of people, such as 50 year old asian women, who are they only people deserving of marriage. And hey, they can’t get married in most states cause it’s illegal!

  14. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman, committed to lifelong mutual fidelity and support, for the purposes of becoming a building block of society. It may or may not be started on love, since apparently most marriages over the centuries were contracted between families without say-so of the couple. The union is predominantly for the begetting of children (although not necessarily) so as to populate society and to form a family unit, again a building block of society at large. Marriage helps to reduce sexual immorality and its associated social problems. It provides protection for the family unit. It distinguishes man from animals. As Rabbi Daniel Lapin notes:
    “Without marriage, weaker humans become more dependent on government. In the animal world, weaker animals depend on the zoo keeper to maintain their health and security. WIthout marriage, men can tend to become predators and rogues. This again is reminiscent of the jungle, barnyard, or zoo. Marriage is almost more important for the preservation of society than it is to the individual male.”

  15. I’m going to agree with Dan’s answer of what marriage is, for the most part.

    It is obviously not about procreation, since John concedes that unmarried people are more likely to be promiscuous, thus increasing the likelihood of procreation.

    Here is where John will dodge the question: Why should government get involved in promoting marriage in the first place? Why should they legally extend any benefit to marriage rather than just prevent “undesirable” couplings? Why even prevent any two consenting adults from marriage?

    The answers to those questions go a long way to explain why us “unreasonable” people feel the way we do.

    If you want gay folk to be more monogamous and more healthy, you should be blessing their steps to do just that.

    • I’ll definitely answer that George, bear with me today, I am at work and this demands more than the brief answers I can type on my phone. “Fair enough?”

  16. The reason government promotes REAL marriage is because it is the bedrock of society. It holds families together, providing both a mother and a father for stability of the family unit, and it has been demonstrated conclusively by many studies that children do best with both a mother and a father in the home. Even if the couple doesn’t procreate, the unit by nature stabilizes society and promotes mutual fidelity and support. While many claim that the same benefits derive from same-sex unions, this has also been demonstrated to be false, because by the very nature of the type of union it already violates the design of human sexuality, which leads to more promiscuity rather than less, and as has been demonstrated, committed relationships are rare in same-sex unions and even so-called committed relationships are known to have arrangements allowing for relations outside the unit, and in those state where SSM is permitted the rate of dissolution of those relationships is exponentially higher than for real marriages. Dispute that if you wish, but I am not going to debate it any more than I will debate whether 2+2=4.

  17. Just so you know Glenn, I agree with all but three or four words of your previous response about Marriage at 11:45AM. I think that really speaks volumes….

    As to your last response, I’m glad you won’t debate your points. It speaks volumes about their veracity.

  18. I suppose my not debating 2+2=4 speaks volumes about its veracity also. The evidence is more than available for easy access for those who are interested in the truth – you can find it the same way I can. And I suppose my “three or four words” you disagree with have to do with marriage by definition being between one man and one woman.

  19. When someone says “The evidence is out there for you to find”, it means “I can’t be bothered to back up my claims, do it yourself”

    So rephrasing your refusal to debate your points is not an answer, its just repeating that you don’t care if you are right.
    Fair enough. Neither will anyone else.

  20. Dan Trabue says:

    The good news for justice is that we’re in a win/win situation. If they refuse to defend their position, there’s nothing to pay attention to and marriage equity will march on. If they try to defend their position, but do so in ways that simply aren’t making sense (at least to me), then they continue to not make good sense, I suspect, to most people (I don’t think I’m alone).


    It’s why marriage equity is just a few years away.

  21. George, take it for what you want. I’m sure you already know about the studies and deny them, just as Dan does. You can find the answer to 2+2=4 the same placeI did and I won’t debate that, but it is a non sequitur to say it is because the evidence isn’t there. I don’t see the point in going through it all just to have you deny it the way Dan does, and the way every other homosexualist does. You won’t be convinced if God himself told you, just as Dan isn’t convinced when God told him in the Scripture that homosexual behavior is wrong.

  22. Dan Trabue says:


    I’m sure you already know about the studies and deny them, just as Dan does.

    No one has denied anything, Glenn. Look at my actual words. Promiscuity IS not a good thing, seems to me. No one is debating that.

    What we’re saying is that the studies you offer (that promiscuity is a bad thing) does not answer the question: What is the harm in promoting/supporting fidelity, monogamy, love and respect?

    Are you not seeing how your studies – even if they are valid – do not answer that question? I’m NOT asking “Is promiscuity bad?” I’m asking you to show me the harm in promoting fidelity and monogamy.

    If you aren’t able to do that, then you don’t really have a case, since we’re all agreed that these (fidelity and monogamy) are good ideals, your “evidence” only SUPPORTS our argument.

    Can you just answer one straightforward question, Glenn: Do you see that your evidence does not support your case or, if you DO think it supports your case, can you explain how SUPPORTING fidelity and monogamy actually harms anyone?

    It’s like you’re not even reading our words or you’re just totally missing the point.

  23. What IS marriage? How about this, let me give you an example.

    Annie and Jane married at our church 13 years ago. They loved each other and wanted to spend their lives together. One teaches kids at a public school, the other helps the homeless. They bought a house in a neighborhood and work to make that a good neighborhood, cleaning up their block, supporting a community garden, sharing their produce with neighbors and the poor. They are productive tax-paying citizens. They adopted a dog from the pound, saving its life.

    They’ve adopted a child with disabilities, raising the child to also be a productive, healthy contributing member to society.

    THAT is what marriage is.

    My question to you all is what about THIS SPECIFIC situation is going to cause harm to others? I honestly want to know because for the life of me, I can’t see what is harmful to others in this situation (or any of the number of others amongst my friends and acquaintances).

  24. Dan,

    Your example missed an important component of what marriage is – marriage is a union of opposite-sex couples. Same-sex units are not marriage no matter how many times you claim otherwise. It is like saying a circle is a square.

    I’m not responding to your question about harm because it is not part of John’s question.

  25. Just a few points for clean up purposes.

    Glenn wants to forbid homosexuals marriage because they (all?) have an attribute that has nothing to do with being a homosexual-promiscuity. Earlier, we had (I thought) agreed that asking people about their personal lives was immaterial to the purview of the state. I’m sure at the very least John can see where these two beliefs fail to intersect.

    Dan keeps saying it, and Glenn keeps ignoring it, if marriage promotes fidelity and stability, and morality, then a group of people who have no access to this pillar of fidelity, stability, and morality will reasonably lack those traits to some degree.
    HMMMM…… If they could only be offered an institution that might help promote those values in their relationships, one that was supported by the state in order to promote fidelity, stability, and morality….

    • Ok, just a few clean up points of my own then. What is ignored is even when homosexuals are in self described long term relationships (LTR) they remain promiscuous.

      If you are going to suggest that state sanctioned and endorsed marriage curbs promiscuity and encourages fidelity, then you must be making the claim that tax and financial incentives are the cause of the change in sexual proclivity. This must be the argument since every aspect of marriage is availabe to homosexuals regardless of the laws of a particular state.

      They can make a long term commitment
      They can have the ceremony in a religious context in the presence of family and friends
      They can call it a wedding

      So I ask what is it about tax benefits that encourage sexual restraint, that a wedding ceremony and commitment cannot?

  26. I was going to respond to Glenn, but George has done a fine job. Glenn, I will say that IF you have some actual thoughts on HOW IN THE WORLD these two exemplary women (two of many) are somehow harming others and it’s only John’s blog that is stopping you, you can always stop in at my blog and just post an answer. ANYTHING would be better than nothing.

    John, since neither you nor Glenn appear willing to answer the question, perhaps you can understand why your position is going the way of miscegenation laws. You have no solid rational moral reason to NOT grant these two women benefits that you’re willing to grant to heterosexuals. You’re not willing to support ending discrimination and you’re offering NO reason why we should not encourage fidelity and monogamy.

    In the lack of any substantial reason to agree with you, people are increasingly regarding that side of the argument as rationally irrelevant and part of past prejudices that have no good moral reason belonging in this century. I hope you can understand why people like me and like these fine Christian ladies are seeking what’s moral and rational the best we can and you’re just not offering anything to make us reconsider.

    It’s not a matter of people choosing “evil,” over the “right” that you’re offering. We’re looking at your “argument” (or lack thereof) and finding no reason to go along with discrimination any longer. No offense is intended, but we are free moral agents, seeking to do what’s right and obliged to follow our conscience and God the best we can.

  27. John…

    So I ask what is it about tax benefits that encourage sexual restraint, that a wedding ceremony and commitment cannot?

    As has been stated already, the point is not that we all can marry, the point is discrimination. Do you agree that it is morally wrong to discriminate unjustly? That it is wrong to say to a black woman and white man, “We’ll encourage AND SUPPORT FINANCIALLY folk who marry within their own race, but NOT inter-marriage between races…”? I’m sure you agree that such discrimination is morally offensive and wrong.

    We support marriage equity because we believe the discrimination of one group over another group is morally wrong and contrary to our nation’s better values.

    Now, as stated already, perhaps the easiest and least intrusive solution to this discrimination is for gov’t to get out of the marriage licensing and incentivizing business altogether. At that point, groups and churches that are fine with marriage equity will continue as we’re doing now, those who aren’t fine with it will continue as they see best and there IS NO discrimination happening. BUT, if gov’t is going to get into the business of giving benefits to ONE PORTION of society, then as a matter of justice and morality, they have to provide it to all.

    How is it any different at all than granting tax breaks to white folk who marry but not black folk or Muslims or those from different backgrounds?

    • Dan, you and George assert that marriage encourages fidelity, if the only distinction between state affirmed and privately declared marriages is financial, then your arguement that state affirming marriages necessarily hinges on financial incentives.

      Please explain how financial incentives encourage fidelity

  28. John…

    What is ignored is even when homosexuals are in self described long term relationships (LTR) they remain promiscuous.

    If you would allow me a line of questions that are marginally on topic (or consider it for another future post):

    What is it you propose is the best answer for people (gay or straight) who are promiscuous?

    Would you propose marriage for straight people and chastity for gay folk? How realistic would you find that answer to be?

    IF it were the case that heterosexuality was the exception and people said, “God and society think the best answer for gay folk is to marry, but the best answer for straight folk is chastity…” how effective of an answer would that be, do you think?

  29. Dan, you keep claiming discrimination but it isn’t discrimination to call a dandelion a dandelion and a rose a rose. You demand a dandelion to be called a rose or else claim discrimination. Marriage by definition is opposite-sex. Period.

  30. I’m saying that ENCOURAGING FIDELITY AND MONOGAMY encourages fidelity and monogamy. There are many ways to encourage fidelity and monogamy (f/m). We, the people, have decided (rightly or wrongly) that ONE way to support f/m is to provide tax breaks to folk who marry.

    Do you think the state is right or wrong to use tax dollars to encourage marriage?

    IF you think it’s a good thing, then do you agree that it’s wrong to discriminate? That it’s wrong to say CHRISTIANS who marry can get a tax break and all these other incentives, but Muslims who marry can’t?

    As to supporting marriage apart from tax breaks, I DO, and this is becoming increasingly the norm. And I think that increasingly you will find is that gay folk who are treated as just another part of the larger community and whose marriages are supported by a larger community, you will find that marriage becomes increasingly the norm for them, along with fidelity and monogamy.

    Do you have any reason whatsoever to think otherwise?

    • But you keep suggestingd that legakizing ssm is the way to do that. But even when homosexuals are in self described ltr’s there is no monogamy. And since every aspect of marriage is available EXCEPT financial incentives, what is it about financial incentives that encourage monogamy? Or are you suggesting that when homosexuals marry, they are going to be told they should no longer be promiscuous?

  31. Glenn, you don’t seem to mind going off topic when you make unsupported rants of this sort, but you won’t go off topic to answer a simple question. What are we to make of that?

    The US gives tax and other incentives to one group of people (straight people) for marrying. Other people marry (gay folk) and you support discriminating by NOT giving them the same benefits you give straight people. That is the definition of discrimination.

    Now, you try to justify the discrimination by saying “they’re not really married,” meaning, “I don’t consider them to be married,” but you offer no reason other than your religious prejudices and tradition why we should listen to your hunch about marriage over someone else’s hunch.

    If you can’t give a single good reason why we shouldn’t encourage marriage in an even-handed way, then we will pay exactly as much attention to you as we do to the anti-miscegenationists.

  32. NO one is discriminating as to who can marry – any religion has that right. The only “discrimination” for marriage is qualification, and the primary qualification is opposite sex. It’s not discrimination to not allow someone to call a circle a square.

  33. It is NOT off topic. The question is “What is Marriage.” First and foremost marriage is opposite sex people in a union. It is not marriage if it is same-sex. That is by definition.

  34. But you keep suggestingd that legakizing ssm is the way to do that.

    I’m saying that marriage equity is a matter of justice and being opposed to immoral discrimination based on religious and cultural whims. Supporting marriage in multiple ways for all folk is one way of encouraging fidelity and monogamy.

    Do you disagree with this?

    You asked…

    what is it about financial incentives that encourage monogamy?

    I’m saying supporting marriage in MULTIPLE ways encourages f/m. Do you disagree with this?

    Or are you suggesting that when homosexuals marry, they are going to be told they should no longer be promiscuous?

    Well, I don’t know about your circles, but in MY circles in ALL marriages, we encourage and support one another to be NOT promiscuous. It’s sorta one of the big points of marriage.

    Now that I’ve answered your questions, would you help me out by answering mine?

    Supporting marriage in multiple ways for all folk is one way of encouraging fidelity and monogamy.

    Do you disagree with this?


    For couples like I’ve mentioned above, WHERE IS THE HARM to others in supporting their marriage?

  35. John,
    Let’s get to the sociological reasons why homosexuals have issues with monogamy.

    If you have been told your whole life that who you are is “unclean” or “dirty” or “sinful”, how likely are you to embrace the love side of the equation as opposed to just fulfilling a sexual desire?
    When homosexuals are forced by society to be discreet, how likely is it that a homosexual is going to have a committed partner if this would cause people to ask questions?

    There are factors affecting homosexual relationships that don’t affect heterosexual ones.
    What Dan is saying, and what I am saying, is that the State supporting fidelity, stability, and morality for all consenting couples would most certainly help to solve all your and Glenn’s issues with their promiscuous lifestyle. Our laws go a long way toward paving the way for minorities to integrate with societal norms.

    As you have said, you don’t believe so much that gayness is the issue, as much as the culture that comes along with it. So let’s follow your own advice and institutionalize something for gays that promotes the very things that are lacking in their culture.

    The state can be proactive in making homosexuality just “different” instead of “worse”. This is what you fundamentally disagree with. You disagree that the state should get involved in battling the bigotry and stereotypes of people who don’t like homosexuality.

    Again, this is the exact reason why gay marriage will be legal in the near future.

  36. George…

    Let’s get to the sociological reasons why homosexuals have issues with monogamy.

    To what George has said, I would only add “…have issues with monogamy – IF, indeed, they do…” I’m not sold on any scientific studies bearing this out. The ones I’ve seen thus far appear to be flawed (ie, based on getting a gay sampling from places where more promiscuous/libertine gays might be found, for instance).

    In the “libertine”/single clubs crowd, I expect we’d find gays and straights with more partners than on average.

    I’m still searching for something more substantial in the way of solid research, but intuitively (based on anecdotal evidence, mostly), I suspect that “the gays” have a love life that is probably about as boring as straight folk. The folk I know – gay and straight – are too busy with life, work, family responsibilities, etc to be out every night prowling for sex and, of the folk I know, it is the straight guys that this “sex-prowling” stereotype would most apply to.

  37. legal establishment of kinship is what marriage for anyone is about – along with all the rights and privledges and responsibilities.

    My partner and I have been together since 1994 and being Canadian, we were married in 2004 – and yes, being married is meaningful and deepened our relationship

    My partner had a serious health concern for a time and knowing that her family would not be able to bar me from the hospital and that I would be legally entitled to carry out her end of life wishes free from her family’s opposite preferences, was a gret comfort and reduction of the stress that would have been present during her recovery.

    But that aside, living together, property ownership, these were things we did before we married, but getting married, to stand before our families and friends, meant something.

    when I signed the marriage book, for the first time in my adult life, I felt like I was again a full Canadian in a way that I had not felt since I had come out so many years, back when it was legal for me to be fired for beign gay.

    • So what of what you did were you not able to do with out legal contracts (esate management, executor of estate etc.) Why could you not have held a ceremony ceven in a religious setting in front of family and friends? I don’t know how it works in canada, but in the states, all that could be done without changes to the definition of marriage.

  38. John,
    I wrote a short piece here called “Divide and Conquer” where I illustrate that government rules on marriage actually (as you sort of illustrate) make people unnecessary enemies. Government shouldn’t have anything to do with marriage. It should all be private contract. The government helps enforce legally binding contracts.
    What do you think?
    This who post would be unnecessary if what I wish were true — and people could still be married or not and still accomplish whatever they wish. No desires would need be thwarted except that of harming others and breaking contracts.

    I did not read the 58 comments — so if this has already been mentioned, forgive me.

    • The reason Government encourages heterosexual marriages through tax incentives is because it encourages the ideal situation for creating and fostering the next generation. Long term committed heterosexual unions naturally produce the next generation (it is the rule, not the exception. Laws should reflect the rules and not the exceptions). Children (despite the anecdotal citation of an instance of a well balanced child in samesex marriages) who are raised with both biological parents are better well adjusted. They are les likely to engage in criminal behavior as adults or have emotional problems, more likely to finish school and higher education, as well as a host of other correlations with biological parents raising their own child.

      The Government has a stake in encouraging a well adjusted productive member of society.

  39. With that logic, then the government should tell us how to eat, how to exercise, what to watch on TV and much more. Or do you have a way to sort out which things a government should intervene with? Perhaps you’d like to see regulations there too. Do you have a post on: “Things I personally want the Government to Do”

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