Secular case against gay marriage

Atreus21

Lifer
Aug 21, 2007
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Once again, a thread inspired from eskimospy's challenge.

Awhile back eskimo requested an argument against gay marriage which had no grounding in a moral or religious source. This is one that I found.

The debate over whether the state ought to recognize gay marriages has thus far focused on the issue as one of civil rights. Such a treatment is erroneous because state recognition of marriage is not a universal right. States regulate marriage in many ways besides denying men the right to marry men, and women the right to marry women. Roughly half of all states prohibit first cousins from marrying, and all prohibit marriage of closer blood relatives, even if the individuals being married are sterile. In all states, it is illegal to attempt to marry more than one person, or even to pass off more than one person as one?s spouse. Some states restrict the marriage of people suffering from syphilis or other venereal diseases. Homosexuals, therefore, are not the only people to be denied the right to marry the person of their choosing.

Whole article here:

http://tech.mit.edu/V124/N5/kolasinski.5c.html

I'm not sure if I agree with all points that he makes. But it articulates much of the points which I sometimes stumble over in my arguments.

Not looking to inflame tempers. Just looking for mature debate. If someone does some fishing around, I think another doctoral student wrote a paper in refutation to this. Don't remember who tho.
 

First

Lifer
Jun 3, 2002
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It's a terrible argument since *all* rights have exceptions to them. Using this same logic, ethnic bigots could claim blacks don't have the right to vote simply because people under the age of 18 can't vote. Of course, that rule is in place simply because we've made a reasonable decision that you're not old enough to vote until you reach the age of 18. The slippery slope nonsense about "If we let gays marry we have to let polygamists marry" is a false choice and was used by the same people who wanted to suppress inter-racial marriage.
 

Atreus21

Lifer
Aug 21, 2007
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572
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Originally posted by: Evan
It's a terrible argument since *all* rights have exceptions to them. Using this same logic, ethnic bigots could claim blacks don't have the right to vote simply because people under the age of 18 can't vote. Of course, that rule is in place simply because we've made a reasonable decision that you're not old enough to vote until you reach the age of 18. The slippery slope nonsense about "If we let gays marry we have to let polygamists marry" is a false choice and was used by the same people who wanted to suppress inter-racial marriage.

Did you read the whole article? He addresses the distinction between interracial marriage and gay marriage.

Incidentally, I love your sig.
 

First

Lifer
Jun 3, 2002
10,518
271
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Originally posted by: Atreus21
Originally posted by: Evan
It's a terrible argument since *all* rights have exceptions to them. Using this same logic, ethnic bigots could claim blacks don't have the right to vote simply because people under the age of 18 can't vote. Of course, that rule is in place simply because we've made a reasonable decision that you're not old enough to vote until you reach the age of 18. The slippery slope nonsense about "If we let gays marry we have to let polygamists marry" is a false choice and was used by the same people who wanted to suppress inter-racial marriage.

Did you read the whole article? He addresses the distinction between interracial marriage and gay marriage.

Incidentally, I love your sig.

He says because gays can't procreate the state has no interest to allow them to marry, and this has been debunked time and again. For one, lesbian couples can procreate, the only difference is artificial insemination is necessary. If procreation were really the primary reason not to let homosexuals be married, these same people would be fine allowing lesbians to marry since they can indeed have children. Secondly and most importantly, you can still raise children by adopting them, there is a huge glut of children that need stable parents, at home and abroad. By allowing gays to marry you encourage them to raise children based on their American values, their genetics aren't relevant. To argue their genetic ability to create children is relevant, is to practice eugenics. It's utter nonsense.

Though, I appreciate the link. Interesting discussion. I just can't in good conscience suppress the right for gays to marry. Hopefully Obama comes around on this.
 

Farang

Lifer
Jul 7, 2003
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Originally posted by: Atreus21
Originally posted by: Evan
It's a terrible argument since *all* rights have exceptions to them. Using this same logic, ethnic bigots could claim blacks don't have the right to vote simply because people under the age of 18 can't vote. Of course, that rule is in place simply because we've made a reasonable decision that you're not old enough to vote until you reach the age of 18. The slippery slope nonsense about "If we let gays marry we have to let polygamists marry" is a false choice and was used by the same people who wanted to suppress inter-racial marriage.

Did you read the whole article? He addresses the distinction between interracial marriage and gay marriage.

Incidentally, I love your sig.

Evan's argument is that the article's contention that marriage is regulated doesn't justify banning gay marriage because other rights are also heavily regulated--such as voting, but that doesn't make discrimination right.

I agree on that point but I think the article made an interesting point here:

Homosexual relationships do nothing to serve the state interest of propagating society, so there is no reason for the state to grant them the costly benefits of marriage, unless they serve some other state interest. The burden of proof, therefore, is on the advocates of gay marriage to show what state interest these marriages serve. Thus far, this burden has not been met.

Does the state only recognize marriage for the purpose of propagating society? If so, isn't recognizing gay marriage something akin to putting "Keep Going" signs on the highway? It may serve no real purpose to give gays the financial benefits of marriage and maybe instead we should just simplify the process of getting everything joint ownership and hospital visits and whatnot signed off on (a.k.a civil unions).

Coming as a supporter of gay marriage I find this point difficult to contend with. I'll think about it more and maybe come back with a rebuttal.
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
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One problem is that the article is also a secular case against "regular" marriage. For example, according to the author, it's not enough to say that gay marriage allows gays to live in a committed relationship because they can do so without being married. Which, while true, would seem to apply to straight people as well...yet "committed relationship" is one of the major reasons we have marriage in the first place. The author's argument works against him, he claims that straight couples that can currently marry posses a unique trait that makes their marriage more desirable for the state to allow, yet fails to show what that unique trait might be.

So in my opinion the article fails to even be internally consistent, but even considering the argument requires granting a very crucial point...that the state should only allow marriages that are in the state's best interest. Nowhere in our founding documents or history can I find much support for the idea that our freedoms primarily exist to further the interests of the state, rather than the individuals that live here. In fact, there is substantial evidence that it is the interests of the individual, NOT the state, that are at the core of our system of government. Asking gay couples to "prove" that their love benefits the state has it completely backwards, every bit our who we are as Americans tells me that it's up to the people opposed to gay marriage to prove that it harms them as individuals.

Invoking the interests of the state doesn't appear to be a very effective argument since it's not clear how straight couples serve those interests any better than gay couples, but the bigger point is that we live in a country where "the state" can go cram it with walnuts unless someone can show actual harm resulting from gay marriage.
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
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Originally posted by: EXman
OMG not another gay marriage thread.

It's apparently important enough to try to amend the various constitutions in this country, so I'd say that makes it a topic that is worth some discussion, don't you agree?
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
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Originally posted by: Atreus21
Originally posted by: Evan
It's a terrible argument since *all* rights have exceptions to them. Using this same logic, ethnic bigots could claim blacks don't have the right to vote simply because people under the age of 18 can't vote. Of course, that rule is in place simply because we've made a reasonable decision that you're not old enough to vote until you reach the age of 18. The slippery slope nonsense about "If we let gays marry we have to let polygamists marry" is a false choice and was used by the same people who wanted to suppress inter-racial marriage.

Did you read the whole article? He addresses the distinction between interracial marriage and gay marriage.

Incidentally, I love your sig.

Even's voting analogy isn't bad though. The core of the author's argument seems to be that since SOME restrictions on marriage exist, any group that wants to get married has to demonstrate how their marriage benefits the state, otherwise their marriage should be banned. In Evan's comparison, because we don't let every single person in the country vote, no one should be able to vote unless they demonstrate that the state has an interest in letting them do so.

It's a very weak logical leap, because restrictions on marriage (or voting) aren't proven to exist because EVERYONE was evaluated and some groups passed while others did not. In general, rights are restricted based on a good reason, not only extended when there is a good reason. Straight couples didn't have to audition to be allowed to marry, why should gay couples?
 

Harvey

Administrator<br>Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
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Assuming for the sake of argument that the state CAN restrict gays from marrying, what rational, compelling, overriding reason is there for doing so? Gays aren't demanding that others should be forced to participate in their personal activities or relationships. They want only to be allowed the same freedom to conduct their own private, personal relationships as they choose.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America says:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

How does instituting discriminatory, bigoted, homophobic prohibitions in our laws serve to "establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare or otherwise secure the blessings of liberty" for ALL of our citizens? :confused:
 

Farang

Lifer
Jul 7, 2003
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Originally posted by: Rainsford
One problem is that the article is also a secular case against "regular" marriage. For example, according to the author, it's not enough to say that gay marriage allows gays to live in a committed relationship because they can do so without being married. Which, while true, would seem to apply to straight people as well...yet "committed relationship" is one of the major reasons we have marriage in the first place. The author's argument works against him, he claims that straight couples that can currently marry posses a unique trait that makes their marriage more desirable for the state to allow, yet fails to show what that unique trait might be.

So in my opinion the article fails to even be internally consistent, but even considering the argument requires granting a very crucial point...that the state should only allow marriages that are in the state's best interest. Nowhere in our founding documents or history can I find much support for the idea that our freedoms primarily exist to further the interests of the state, rather than the individuals that live here. In fact, there is substantial evidence that it is the interests of the individual, NOT the state, that are at the core of our system of government. Asking gay couples to "prove" that their love benefits the state has it completely backwards, every bit our who we are as Americans tells me that it's up to the people opposed to gay marriage to prove that it harms them as individuals.

Invoking the interests of the state doesn't appear to be a very effective argument since it's not clear how straight couples serve those interests any better than gay couples, but the bigger point is that we live in a country where "the state" can go cram it with walnuts unless someone can show actual harm resulting from gay marriage.

I'm sorry but just like another poster here you appear only to have read the excerpt in the OP and not the article. The author clearly states "what that unique trait might be," it is procreation and the propagation of society. That is the states interest in promoting marriage. If everyone is just going around fucking then they might be more likely to wrap up, I don't see many planned pregnancies with one night stands. So you promote committed relationships of male/female couples because that produces offspring for society.

The counterargument of gay adoption is blunted by the author's argument against gays being as good of parents, which he cites studies that show it is not an optimal situation but admits there isn't enough evidence to draw a solid conclusion. The counterargument of straight couples that can't reproduce might still exist but then you're getting into an area where you would have to force married couples to procreate, or else enforcement of that clause would be impossible (infertile couples would never report it, so there would be no way to separate them from couples who don't want children). Instead the government tries to create an institution in which the vast majority of the time, offspring are created.

His concluding argument is that gay marriage makes marriage's foundation sexual love rather than procreation, which opens the door to all kinds of scenarios involving 3-way marriages or what have you.
 

Farang

Lifer
Jul 7, 2003
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Originally posted by: Harvey
Assuming for the sake of argument that the state CAN restrict gays from marrying, what rational, compelling, overriding reason is there for doing so? Gays aren't demanding that others should be forced to participate in their personal activities or relationships. They want only to be allowed the same freedom to conduct their own private, personal relationships as they choose.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America says:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

How does instituting discriminatory, bigoted, homophobic prohibitions in our laws serve to "establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare or otherwise secure the blessings of liberty" for ALL of our citizens? :confused:

Why do you even bother to post here? You obviously did not read the article, as you did not address single point it made rather you just gave the basic argument in favor of allowing gay marriage. The rational reasons were clearly state in the article--the author does not see it as a merely a "freedom" but he sees it as an incentive the government provides for the purposes of procreation and propagation of society, and that is the only reason marriage is recognized under law. Therefore he says the burden is on gays to explain why the financial advantages of marriage should be extended to them, as the procreation element is gone and therefore the state's incentive is as well.
 

cubby1223

Lifer
May 24, 2004
13,518
42
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Originally posted by: Harvey
Assuming for the sake of argument that the state CAN restrict gays from marrying, what rational, compelling, overriding reason is there for doing so? Gays aren't demanding that others should be forced to participate in their personal activities or relationships. They want only to be allowed the same freedom to conduct their own private, personal relationships as they choose.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America says:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

How does instituting discriminatory, bigoted, homophobic prohibitions in our laws serve to "establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare or otherwise secure the blessings of liberty" for ALL of our citizens? :confused:

You talk big to draw big attention. Get off your high horse and come back down to reality. :roll:

But to try and hammer some sense it to ya - no one anywhere is denying gays the right to marry. Marriage is defined as one man and one woman. Who out there is denying a gay man marriage to a woman?

Sure that's a bit of sarcasm thrown in, but some people just will never "get it" and will only continue labeling everyone else bigots. :roll:

If you refuse to acknowledge the other side of the discussion, you can never win the argument.
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,515
0
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Originally posted by: Farang
Originally posted by: Rainsford
One problem is that the article is also a secular case against "regular" marriage. For example, according to the author, it's not enough to say that gay marriage allows gays to live in a committed relationship because they can do so without being married. Which, while true, would seem to apply to straight people as well...yet "committed relationship" is one of the major reasons we have marriage in the first place. The author's argument works against him, he claims that straight couples that can currently marry posses a unique trait that makes their marriage more desirable for the state to allow, yet fails to show what that unique trait might be.

So in my opinion the article fails to even be internally consistent, but even considering the argument requires granting a very crucial point...that the state should only allow marriages that are in the state's best interest. Nowhere in our founding documents or history can I find much support for the idea that our freedoms primarily exist to further the interests of the state, rather than the individuals that live here. In fact, there is substantial evidence that it is the interests of the individual, NOT the state, that are at the core of our system of government. Asking gay couples to "prove" that their love benefits the state has it completely backwards, every bit our who we are as Americans tells me that it's up to the people opposed to gay marriage to prove that it harms them as individuals.

Invoking the interests of the state doesn't appear to be a very effective argument since it's not clear how straight couples serve those interests any better than gay couples, but the bigger point is that we live in a country where "the state" can go cram it with walnuts unless someone can show actual harm resulting from gay marriage.

I'm sorry but just like another poster here you appear only to have read the excerpt in the OP and not the article. The author clearly states "what that unique trait might be," it is procreation and the propagation of society. That is the states interest in promoting marriage. If everyone is just going around fucking then they might be more likely to wrap up, I don't see many planned pregnancies with one night stands. So you promote committed relationships of male/female couples because that produces offspring for society.

The counterargument of gay adoption is blunted by the author's argument against gays being as good of parents, which he cites studies that show it is not an optimal situation but admits there isn't enough evidence to draw a solid conclusion. The counterargument of straight couples that can't reproduce might still exist but then you're getting into an area where you would have to force married couples to procreate, or else enforcement of that clause would be impossible (infertile couples would never report it, so there would be no way to separate them from couples who don't want children). Instead the government tries to create an institution in which the vast majority of the time, offspring are created.

His concluding argument is that gay marriage makes marriage's foundation sexual love rather than procreation, which opens the door to all kinds of scenarios involving 3-way marriages or what have you.

Nope, I read the entire article...and while the author claims that procreation is the "unique trait", he doesn't prove it very well. He easily dismisses both straight couples that can't procreate and gay couples that can, which from my point of view makes his whole argument incredibly weak. As I said, I read the whole article, and I didn't see anything in there that seems to be a trait that all people who are allowed to marry, and nobody who couldn't marry, had.

But the real problems is that no matter what argument you (or the author) make about procreation, you've completely ignored the question of whether or not procreation is the ONLY acceptable reason to support marriage. Ignoring the administrative difficulties, I think most people would probably support the marriage of a man and woman who couldn't have children, because while I'll admit that procreation is an important aspect of marriage, it's hardly the ONLY reason two people would get married. And this poses a big problem for the author's argument, since he does NOTHING to address the idea that procreation might not be the only reason to support marriage.
 

Farang

Lifer
Jul 7, 2003
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He doesn't dismiss it he says that the burden is on gays to show why the state is interested in recognizing them. That is because marriage isn't so much a right in his view as it is a financial advantage the government decides to give certain groups of people (a man and a woman deciding to enter into it). The other legal advantages to marriage can be resolved without the financial advantages, either through wills and trusts like he stated or we could create civil unions to make it easier.

As for straight couples who can't procreate, they are a small minority. So you're basically creating an institution which let's say 90% of those who enter it will procreate. Allowing gays means 0% will procreate, so there is no incentive for the state to dangle that financial carrot in front of homosexuals to get them to enter into it. Like I said creating an institution with 100% procreation is not practical because enforcement would be impossible and the state would have to be much more involved in monitoring couples, so the advantage of kicking out infertile straight couples is killed by the added costs.
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
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Originally posted by: Farang
He doesn't dismiss it he says that the burden is on gays to show why the state is interested in recognizing them. That is because marriage isn't so much a right in his view as it is a financial advantage the government decides to give certain groups of people (a man and a woman deciding to enter into it). The other legal advantages to marriage can be resolved without the financial advantages, either through wills and trusts like he stated or we could create civil unions to make it easier.

As for straight couples who can't procreate, they are a small minority. So you're basically creating an institution which let's say 90% of those who enter it will procreate. Allowing gays means 0% will procreate, so there is no incentive for the state to dangle that financial carrot in front of homosexuals to get them to enter into it.

You might want to try reading the rest of my first post, I already talked about why I think the burden should NOT be on gays to convince the state to acknowledge their relationship. But in case you'd rather not look back, I'll sum it up for you...we don't live in Soviet Russia, the freedom to do things like marry who you love isn't one that's only granted to individuals when "the state" benefits. In America, the state exists to serve the individual, not the other way around...da, comrade?

In any case, I'm not convinced that marriage is acknowledged by the state for the reason you or the author of this article seem to think. Marriage is just something people do, and since people ultimately run the government, they wanted their relationships to be officially acknowledged. You make it sound like marriage was instituted by wise men carefully considering the issues, I'm not sure that's how it happened. Did straight couples have to audition for the government to convince the powers-that-be that they should be able to get married? Because that doesn't sound quite right to me.
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
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On a strictly style related note, am I the only person who finds the argument presented in the article to be less than genuine? Whatever your views on the quality of the argument being presented, it doesn't read like the reason someone is against gay marriage. Instead, it seems like what you'd come up with if you opposed gay marriage and needed to come up with a halfway reasonable sounding secular argument as to why. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see many people supporting straight marriage mainly because they think it's a privileged institution that the government developed to ensure procreation and further its own interests.
 

Farang

Lifer
Jul 7, 2003
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The state is serving the people by not doling out benefits to people who aren't giving an added benefit back to the country like straight people are. His argument also successfully connects polygamy with gay marriage while also avoiding a straight slippery slope argument. It makes love-based marriage the standard rather than procreation-based, which means polygamy and other wacky forms of marriage you can come up with have no logical reason to be refused. The only argument for their refusal would be based on traditions, customs, what is best for children--the exact arguments being used by social conservatives now against gay marriage ironically.

Tell me, under a love-based legal marriage system, why should be not allow polygamy? Or allow two guys and two girls to marry in one group? If they all love eachother, and it certainly has been "what people do" in the past.
 
Aug 14, 2001
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I like this argument: Elderly couples can marry, but such cases are so rare that it is simply not worth the effort to restrict them.

He's like 'whoops, there's one massive flaw in my argument, but let's just forget about it because I'll randomly say that elderly marriages are rare and apparently take a lot of effort to restrict!'
 
Aug 14, 2001
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Originally posted by: Farang
He doesn't dismiss it he says that the burden is on gays to show why the state is interested in recognizing them. That is because marriage isn't so much a right in his view as it is a financial advantage the government decides to give certain groups of people (a man and a woman deciding to enter into it). The other legal advantages to marriage can be resolved without the financial advantages, either through wills and trusts like he stated or we could create civil unions to make it easier.

As for straight couples who can't procreate, they are a small minority. So you're basically creating an institution which let's say 90% of those who enter it will procreate. Allowing gays means 0% will procreate, so there is no incentive for the state to dangle that financial carrot in front of homosexuals to get them to enter into it. Like I said creating an institution with 100% procreation is not practical because enforcement would be impossible and the state would have to be much more involved in monitoring couples, so the advantage of kicking out infertile straight couples is killed by the added costs.

Homosexuals are perfectly capable of procreation.
 

Farang

Lifer
Jul 7, 2003
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The question then is do we want to spur the growth of a family structure that, according to the author, we are not sure is in the best interests of children. He says there isn't much evidence but the evidence there is shows a mother/father is the best setup. Obviously lots of mothers or fathers are bad, there are a lot of single parents, etc. But the question is should be be actively encouraging these structures through the use of tax incentives? Do you get a tax break for being an alcoholic father? Maybe first we should firmly establish whether gay couples can provide a child a good family structure, on average, before we start encouraging it.

edit: note I'm saying "encourage." I'm not saying we should ban gay adoption, rather should we promote it.
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,515
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Originally posted by: Farang
The state is serving the people by not doling out benefits to people who aren't giving an added benefit back to the country like straight people are. His argument also successfully connects polygamy with gay marriage while also avoiding a straight slippery slope argument. It makes love-based marriage the standard rather than procreation-based, which means polygamy and other wacky forms of marriage you can come up with have no logical reason to be refused. The only argument for their refusal would be based on traditions, customs, what is best for children--the exact arguments being used by social conservatives now against gay marriage ironically.

Tell me, under a love-based legal marriage system, why should be not allow polygamy? Or allow two guys and two girls to marry in one group? If they all love eachother, and it certainly has been "what people do" in the past.

This argument makes the totally unproven assumption that the only way for married couples to give an added benefit back to the country is by procreating. This unspoken assumption is at the core of the entire thesis here, yet it doesn't seem obvious that it's true, and the author has certainly made no attempt at proving it.

And like I've now said multiple times, the big question hanging out there is why marriage MUST be based on any benefit for people other than those being married?
 
Aug 14, 2001
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Originally posted by: Farang
The question then is do we want to spur the growth of a family structure that, according to the author, we are not sure is in the best interests of children. He says there isn't much evidence but the evidence there is shows a mother/father is the best setup. Obviously lots of mothers or fathers are bad, there are a lot of single parents, etc. But the question is should be be actively encouraging these structures through the use of tax incentives? Do you get a tax break for being an alcoholic father? Maybe first we should firmly establish whether gay couples can provide a child a good family structure, on average, before we start encouraging it.

edit: note I'm saying "encourage." I'm not saying we should ban gay adoption, rather should we promote it.

It should be on a case by case basis. If a particular couple is suitable, then they should be encouraged to adopt a child, regardless of whether they are homosexual or heterosexual.

Not all homosexual couples are alike, just like not all heterosexual couples are alike.