- Opponents of same-sex marriage oppose it because of tradition
- There is no evidence to prove that tradition is a good reason for denying same sex couples legal recognition
- The definition of marriage is based on its evolution
- The institution of marriage has evolved over time
- Thus same sex marriages should be legalized since the traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman is no longer relevant.
The main argument in the text is that opposition to same-sex marriage due to tradition is absurd. The author argues that marriage has always been defined based on its evolution over time. He is able to provide evidence in support of the evolution of marriage as an indication of the change in the definition of marriage.
Basis of Rejecting Same-Sex Marriages
The author argues that the institution of marriage has always involved the union between a man and a woman (Onselen, 2011, pp.3-5). The author further points out that the notion has not been changed in the past. Thus perpetuating the notion as a tradition denies gays a chance to be married. While the author correctly points out that the society’s perspective on marriage as a union between a man and a woman has not changed in the past, he fails to question why the view is still popular.
Considering marriage to be a union between a man and a woman is not simply a long standing tradition as the author puts it. It is instead the natural manner in which marriage should occur (Sylla and Cox, 2010, pp. 87-89).
Traditions are based on values and norms that are widely accepted by the society. Such values and norms not only change over time but they also shape our views about marriage. However, the fundamentals of marriage such as procreation remain unchanged (Adryszewski, 2008, p. 34). It is thus not correct to consider the union between a man and a woman a mere tradition.
Marriage and Children
As the author points out, John Howard opposed same-sex marriages in order to ensure the survival of the species. This means that gay marriages are a threat to procreation. However, the author dismisses this argument by citing the case of Penny Wong and her partner who had a baby through the IVF method (Onselen, 2011, pp.3-5).
It is a fact that through IVF, lesbians can have babies and thus there will be no threat to procreation. However, what about the case of a marriage between a man and a man? In this case, the couples will be allowed to adopt children if the same sax marriages are legalized (Joslin, 2011, pp. 81-89).
Same-Sex Marriages and Gay Rights
The author argues that supporters of same-sex marriages are wrong by considering same-sex marriages to be all about gay rights. This perspective is partly right, considering the fact that same-sex couples are legally entitled to “de facto rights, superannuation rights, access to IVF and adoption” (Onselen, 2011, pp.3-5). Apart from these rights, same-sex couples are also concerned about their dignity in the society.
Supporters of same-sex marriages argue that legal recognition of such marriages will help in reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with them (Mancoske, 2006, pp. 4-10). However, seeking legal recognition to reduce the stigma associated with same-sex marriage has never been the sole focus of same-sex couples.
A legal recognition will allow such couples to enjoy all attendant benefits of marriage such as inheriting a partner’s property or filing income tax together (Joslin, 2011, pp. 81-89). Such material benefits remain a key factor in the fight for the legalization of same-sex marriages. Thus to a large extend, access to the institution of marriage by gay couples is all about gay rights.
The Evolution of the Institution of Marriage
The author correctly points out that the institution of marriage has evolved over the years thereby altering its definition. For example, he says that “what today’s traditionalist claim can occur only between a man and a woman has previously occurred between two men, a man and multiple women…” (Onselen, 2011, pp.3-5). This claim is acceptable due to the following reasons. As the author explains, the evolution of the institution of marriage has been necessitated by several factors some of which are beyond our control.
Jacob and David were justified to marry several women in order to have many children perhaps on the ground that the population at that time was too small. In the US, the blacks were probably allowed to marry whites in order to promote national unity and cohesion. The upward adjustment in the age at which women in Australia are allowed to get married was perhaps meant to enable them to complete their education and also to become mature.
All these circumstances or occurrences were based on clear justifications. Thus if the evolution of the institution of marriage was to lead to same-sex marriages, the justification will be based on the fact that meaning of marriage has changed over time (Strasser, 2010, pp. 49-61). It is apparent that same-sex couples have equal access to human and spousal rights (Strasser, 2010, pp. 49-61).
Giving them legal recognition will enable them to access marital benefits which are currently unavailable to them. Besides, legalizing same-sex marriages might help in changing people’s negative attitudes towards it. This is based on the fact that legalizing such marriages will enhance their acceptance by the general public.
Marriage and Religion
The author argues that marriage was once a religious institution. This statement is not correct because marriage is and has always been an independent institution. Even though religious perspectives play a key role in marriage, such perspectives have never been universally accepted especially in regions where traditional marriages are prevalent.
Both church weddings and traditional marriages have always supported the union between a man and a woman as the natural union (Aloni, 2010, pp. 400-413). This not only indicates the independence of the institution of marriage but also illustrates the church’s opposition to same-sex marriages.
The author further points out that churches that do not support same-sex marriages have the right to refuse to marry gay couples (Onselen, 2011, pp.3-5). Thus the logical question arising from this statement is that; should the act of refusing to marry same-sex couples in church amount to discrimination?
If the answer to this question is ‘yes’ then the argument for same-sex marriages along the dimensions of human rights will be self defeating. Besides, if the church has the right to refuse to conduct same-sex weddings, then why would it be strange if the state refused to issue certificates to same-sex couples if it believes such marriages are unjustified?
Finally, the author argues that opponents of gay marriages would be honest if they admitted that they do not want homosexuals to get access to it. This statement is again incorrect since opponents of gay marriages are not merely motivated by the need to lock-out homosexuals from the institution of marriage.
Most opponents of gay marriages in fact help homosexuals to access their human rights (Aloni, 2010, pp. 400-413). However, they are opposed to gay marriages mainly because such unions not only fail to conform to the definition of marriage but also violate the moral standards of the society.
From the above discussion we can point out the strengths and weaknesses of the author’s arguments. To begin with, a good argument should be based on evidence. The author has achieved this by providing evidence in support of the claim that the institution of marriage and its definition has evolved over time. Second, his arguments also deal with counterarguments presented by those opposed to same sex marriages.
For example, he presents alternative ways in which same sex couples can have children thereby eliminating the threat to procreation (Onselen, 2011, pp.3-5). Third, his arguments are based on logic and justification. However, the following fallacies were committed. First, he uses faulty cause-effect explanations. For example, he claims that same sex marriages have not been legalized mainly because the traditional definition of marriage has not been updated.
This shows that other possible causes of resistance to same sex marriages were ignored. Finally, there is oversimplification since complex issues like denying same sax couples church weddings have not been fully addressed. The author simply claims that the church has a right to refuse to conduct weddings involving same sex couples. However, he fails to realize that such a move can also amount to discrimination.
Aloni, E. 2010. Incremental, Civil Unions and the Possibility of Predicting Legal Recognition of same-sex Marriages. Duke Journal of Gender, Law and Policy, 18(4), pp. 400-413.
Adryszewski, T. 2008. Same-Sex Marriage: Moral Wrong or Civil Right? Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books.
Joslin, C. 2011. Searching for Harm: Same-Sex Marriage and the Well-Being of Children. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberty Law Review, 46(1), pp. 81-89.
Mancoske, R. 2006. Legalizing Gay Marriage. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 4(2), pp. 4-10.
Onselen, P. 2011. Gays Denied Human Rights, 1(1), pp. 3-5.
Strasser, M. 2010. Public Policy, Same-Sex Marriage and Exemptions for Matters of Conscience. Florida Coastal Law Review, 12(135), pp. 49-61.
Sylla, M. and Cox, B. 2010. Same-Sex Marriage. National Journal of Sexual Orientation Law, 1(1), pp. 87-89.