Why is the government in the marriage business? Why does the government grant certain rights at all? Why would one set of rights be seen as unfair and another fair? To help answer the question it can be helpful to compare what is perceived to be a problem to what is perceived to be OK. This can also help to determine if there is actually any problem at all.
No comparison is perfect, but comparing voting rights in the context of elections to marriage rights in the context of procreation comes eerily close. The granting of special rights normally implies some special responsibility with regard to said rights. If one is granted the right to vote or the right marry, it follows that you should do something with that right for the common good.
Voting:So what can we say about voting rights? The base rationale for voting is to conduct elections. People given the right to vote are generally anticipated to actually vote, but no one will force you and no one will take away your right because of non-participation.
Not everyone is allowed to vote. There is an age limit because a serious responsibility is involved, and a unique status called citizenship is required. The French are not allowed to vote in a U.S. election and neither are the Chinese. This not because of hatred toward the French and the Chinese, it is because they are not applicable to the situation.
The sought after outcome is a functional government. We all know that voting & elections do not guarantee a functional government, but if we have a one, the elected members will strive for the common good and everyone ultimately wants that.
Marriage:So what can we say about marriage rights? The base rationale for marriage (as far as the government would ever care) is procreation. People given the right to marry are generally anticipated to procreate, but no one will force you and no one will take away your right because of non-participation.
Not everyone is allowed to marry. There is an age limit because a serious responsibility is involved and a unique status of a male-female union is required. Close relatives are not allowed to marry and (in many places still) gays are not allowed to marry. This is not because of hatred toward close relatives and gays; it is because they are not applicable to the situation.
The sought after outcome is a functional family. We all know that marriage & procreation does not guarantee functional families, but if we have them, the created members will strive for the common good and everyone ultimately wants that.
Visuals are most helpful:
- But gay couples could raise a functional family too.
- And the French could vote in a U.S. election, possibly resulting in a functional government, so we should let them? The French are not applicable to a U.S. election just as gay partnerships are not applicable to procreation.
- But they can adopt.
- Adoption is not procreation; it is dealing with children that are already with us.
- But what about surrogacy and impregnation?
- This is procreation, but that’s all it is. Any one person or group of people can arrange it. If this is how to achieve functional families, then special marriage rights would not be intrinsic for either gay or straight couples.
- But marriage rights have nothing whatsoever to do with procreation. Childless married couples prove this.
- Just like voting rights have nothing whatsoever to do with elections. People who don’t vote prove this…Really?
- But if you give those who don’t procreate the right to marry, you have to let gays marry.
- And if you give those who don’t vote the right to vote, we have to let the Chinese vote?
- But marriage is about love.
- And voting is about patriotism? Are we after some tangible objective for the common good or just granting rights for the sake of granting rights; rights for the personal happiness and gratification of individuals?
In the last analysis, if there were no elections, there would be no voting. If there was no procreation, there would be no marriage. Of course, if there was no procreation we would not be here to discuss it, but let’s say humans reproduce asexually; would marriage exist at all? Seems silly, but think about that one. Do you suppose that defining marriage throughout history and throughout the world the way humans reproduce, as one man and one woman, is some kind of weird coincidence?
Marriage should be reinforced, not redefined. Take that into the voting booth the next time you're there.