Gay marriage upends traditional family

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Proposition 8 in California defining marriage as being between a man and a woman was overturned in August of this year in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger and is now set for a Dec. 6 hearing before the Ninth District Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Vaughn Walker wrote the decision arguing, “Gays and lesbians… have intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples” and “deserve the full recognition of society.”

Judge Walker makes some important claims that must be addressed. It may be true that same-sex couples share intimate relationships similar to that of their traditional counterparts, but it cannot be said that they share the same sort of relationships; men and women are intrinsically different.

Former President of Harvard Larry Summers presented a hypothesis in 2005 suggesting inherent differences between the genders as far as aptitude at the high end in mathematics is concerned. Following the discussion he encountered fierce opposition bordering on religious fanaticism from the side rejecting any male-female differences, in spite of reality.

It is the difference between the sexes that allows for something imitable when they join together. Even some of the most radical advocates for same-sex marriage would agree that traditional marriage is also the optimal environment for the upbringing of children. A child benefits most from a having both a father and mother because each bring something unique to the table.

We call this union between man and woman a marriage, and whatever else one says about a same-sex relationship it cannot by definition be a marriage for the simple fact of nature that men and women are not the same. However many similarities there may be between traditional and same-sex couples, the two are different and should be recognized as such.

Judge Walker’s second point is a strange one. His job is to interpret law, not pass judgment on whether society should or should not recognize same-sex relationships. That is for society to decide, not a single man.

The people of California already passed a constitutional amendment establishing what they believe the definition of marriage ought to be, and Judge Walker is entitled to his vote and opinion on the matter but no more than the next citizen. His position as a Federal Judge does not grant him power of sole legislator.

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Now there is a misunderstanding that infects the whole discussion over marriage that needs to be examined, which is the idea of gay “rights”. Often people confuse rights with privileges. For example, society grants the privilege of driving a car to persons above a certain age and able to perform at a designated level of aptitude, but certainly driving a car is not a birthright. There are standards one must meet in order to receive a driver’s license, much like entering into a legal marriage.

In order to communicate this more clearly, it should be acknowledged that there are real and serious disagreements between conservatives as liberals as to what constitutes a right, but one thing is certain, all rights have a corollary duties.

In the winter of 1944, President Roosevelt presented a Second Bill of Rights in his State of the Union Address which included a right to employment, housing, medical care, and so on. Many vehemently disagreed with Roosevelt’s new assessment of rights, but agreed that these new rights would impose additional duties. If one has a right to housing, then the government has a duty to build one. Likewise, all Americans have a right to legal counsel and are provided it by the state if they cannot afford it.

Therefore if marriage is in fact a right, it would mean the government has a duty to provide a spouse. Properly understood, a contract of legal marriage is not a right but a privilege, and all claims by gay “rights” activists to be obtaining their proper rights are frivolous.

With the exception of a few states, marriage in the U.S. remains between one man and one woman as it has been since its beginnings. The traditional family model has worked for America for hundreds of years and centuries before that going back to our Anglo-Saxon tradition.

It is because of this historical tradition that the burden of proof is on those who seek to change this ancient institution without using false claims to “rights” or denying the nature of men and women.


  1. Respectfully Daniel, time to wake up.

    Your argument waffles at the beginning so I’ll start with the conclusion and work my way back, here goes: “Properly understood a contract of marriage is not a right but a privilege…”

    However clever that may have seemed at the time, in reality our Supreme Court has repeatedly found that marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man” Skinner v. Oklahoma (1942).

    When you look to the result of that case, then consider the fact our Supreme Court then went further and declared that very same right a “fundamental right” Loving v. Virginia (1967) which ups the bar to the strictest level of scrutiny for State Action, there is no doubt that a distinct minority group has had that right stripped of them by the amendment you now defend. “For a state to directly and substantially interfere in the right to marry the state must show both sufficient state interests and it must closely tailor its interference to effectuate only those interests” Zablocki v. Redhail (1978).

    Proposition 8 violates the Due Process clause of the 14th amendment without cause. Gays and Lesbians are denied the process of law accorded to straight couples by denying them similar social and economic benefits to which other citizens in that state are party; furthermore the denial is made in a class-based fashion with no shallower reasoning than a dislike by a majority of a particular minority. This tyranny of the majority over a minority is one of the reasons we have a tiered system of governance with checks and balances. By exerting that majority’s power to implement discrimination, even positively worded discrimination, on the basis of sexual orientation is invidious at its core. There is no room for a second class of citizens within the Constitution and that is precisely the effect this law has upon an entire class of citizens of the state of California by denying them the right to enter into contract.

  2. Another flaw: Your argument that people have been fine with marriage as is for hundreds of years. By that logic, we should through out modern medicine, cars, aircraft, housing, money, and all other modern conveniences. We should also return to a system of slavery, burn harmless old women at the stake for witchcraft, and change the summer to farming and war season.

  3. i say abolish all government recognition of marriage, as marriage is an inherently religious event and shouldn’t be recognized by the state per 1st amendment. then people can say they’re married or not freely. who cares?!?

    btw, the article was absurd.

  4. This “opinion” brings nothing new to the debate.

    Mr. McDonald, history is not on your side. Get with the program or step aside.

  5. I would like to put forth the view that “rights” have responsibilites. Freedom is not free. If people insist on going against a workable pattern for society, that is their sorrow. HOWEVER , in their insecurity, they seek affirmation of their choice by being loud and contentious against others who do not agree with them , and at this point , they infringe on other peoples freedom and in that they are no better than any other kind of militant.

  6. “The traditional family model has worked for America for hundreds of years and centuries before that going back to our Anglo-Saxon tradition.”

    I would usually refrain from commenting on opinion pieces (particularly ones using obtuse and fallacious argumentation), but this sentence is so blatantly incorrect I feel pushed to amend it.

    The modern conception of marriage is fundamentally different than that of even two centuries ago. Before this time, marriage was first and foremost a means of pooling wealth and resources between two families. Marriage was decided on a familial basis, with the monetary concerns of both families being at the forefront of any decision making. Things like romance, affection, sexual compatibility, or any other myriad of sentimental concerns were mostly unimportant. If one DID happen to find these extravagances in a marriage, this would be considered a rare and superlative case.

    Additionally, not only did marriage commonly include polygamy – or, at the very least, concubinage – for much of premodern times, but its very infrastructure was formulated in a way to condone subordination against women and to treat women as property. I would be hard pressed to find a modern man, yourself included, who would find these important and ubiquitous characteristics of marriage acceptable, or even “working,” as you so lucidly put it.

    And this is not even going into the fact that western society is more than heavily influenced by the Greeks, who thought that homosexuality was actually more honorable and praiseworthy than any other type of love (see: Plato’s Symposium, the hellenistic debate Affairs of the Heart, or pretty much any other ancient Greek writing). And in fact many ancient cultures, from Greek to Chinese, assumed bisexuality as the standard norm for all humankind. In fact, gay relationships were often widely praised as they suffered from none of the societal pressures (aka marriage and financial drama) that heterosexual ones suffered from, instead being borne solely out of love.

    And THAT is not even to get into your asinine juxtaposition of males and females, or your blatantly fallacious argument that these distinctions are what make marriage “imitable,” or your clear lack of understanding regarding legal institution and what a “right” and a “privilege” is.

    I don’t care what religion you are. I don’t even care if you think gay people are gross or homosexuality is wrong. But for goodness’ sake grow up, and try using things like evidence and reasoning – no matter how elusive they apparently are to you – when formulating arguments to support your antiquated prejudices.

  7. This piece is four parts vapid rhetoric, two parts non sequitor, two parts platitude, and the rest is some melange of logical fallacy I cannot even begin to untangle.

    “It is because of this historical tradition [of marriage as the union of one man and one woman] that the burden of proof is on those who seek to change this ancient institution without using false claims to “rights” or denying the nature of men and women.”

    I’m sorry, Daniel, but historical precedent does not justify actively discriminating against a group of individuals. It never has. The genesis of fundamental rights isn’t found in some ethereal tradition of common law, that apparently you alone have access to. Throughout the history of the Occident, ethnic minorities were systematically denied political representation – for thousands of years – yet this “historical tradition” was found to be discriminatory and inappropriate. As such, this tradition was promptly abandoned. Today, sexual minorities are denied what is understood to be the best context for love and kinship available in western liberal democracies. As such, the barrier that bars homosexuals from accessing the best context for love and kinship ought to be brought down.

    Moreover, your discussion of “rights” is myopic and sophomoric, at best. I believe Michael Mason has adequately established the legal precedent for marriage as a fundamental right, but on a more basic normative level, your argument (or lack thereof) is fallacious. All individuals ought to have a right to access the same privileges offered by the state. How is it, Daniel, that we can categorically and arbitrarily deny certain people the right to access to the “privilege” of marriage? If marriage is indeed a privilege, as you claim, then what qualifies access to that privilege? Your answer doesn’t seem to be “love” or “intimacy”, but “sexual orientation.” This is absurd. Marriage is emphatically a spiritual union between two lovers, for better or worse. The heterosexual qualifier you seem to assert is cultural, not absolute.

    You seem to rely heavily on precedent, but don’t put forward a single normative argument for why marriage ought to be exclusively enjoyed by heterosexuals. I believe Michael and I have demonstrated to you that first, you’ve left out a significant and important portion of legal precedent involving marriage, and second, and more importantly, simply using precedent to justify your position is inadequate.

    So, explain to me, Daniel, why is the precedent you’ve chosen to rely so heavily upon correct? What logic will you employ to deny homosexuals the right to marry their lover?

    I eagerly await your response.

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