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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Marriage: Not Defined By Love

Proponents of gay marriage -- of redefining marriage – claim that current law discriminates against gays because it prevents them from marrying the ones they love. This argument is flawed for it presumes that love is the defining element of marriage. But, it isn't.

While most agree that love is essential for success, it is not used to define marriage. Love is not even on the application for a marriage license.

The definition of marriage is not based on love. It is based on the union of biological opposites – of two who are of the opposite sex – of one man and one woman. (This is the reason, and the only reason, that marriage is limited to two individuals for there are exactly two biological sexes – male and female.)

Marriage increases the potential for procreation. This is why marriage has become an institution. It is also why marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. Procreation requires this unique combination of the sexes. Sure, other types of “couples” can acquire a child by other means, but they cannot create one.

Further, marriage is endorsed by government because this unique union offers the potential to create new citizens. However, government limits marriage to promote a "healthy", "child friendly" union.
  • Marriage between blood relatives is prohibited because it leads to medical problems for the children that the might be produced.
  • Marriage involving a minor is restricted to ensure that both partners are mentally and physically able to make such a commitment – mentally able to comprehend the responsibility and physically able to sustain the potential consequences of consummation.
  • Marriage involving one who is already married is prohibited because society has determined that such unions would be unhealthy to the wellbeing of the partners and their potential children.
  • Endorsing marriage increases the odds that children will benefit from BOTH a father and a mother. Most agree that both are essential for a well rounded childhood.
If love was the essential, overriding element in the definition of marriage, none of the above restrictions could apply. Indeed, if marriage is redefined, the above restrictions would likely be changed.

In truth, the restrictions of marriage apply equally to all regardless of whom they love. An unmarried adult man can only marry a woman who is of age, who is not a blood relative, and who is not married. It doesn't matter whether the man loves another woman who is married, another woman who is a blood relative, a girl who is underage, or another man. There is no discrimination against any specific group for these restrictions apply equally to all individuals.

Proponents of redefining marriage further claim discrimination from "partner" benefits – such as ospital visitation, health care benefits, retirement benefits, and perceived tax benefits. However, none of these issues require the redefinition of marriage.

  • Hospitals are already changing visitation rules to accommodate the wishes of the patient.
  • Much of the private sector has already changed health care plans to include "partner benefits".
  • One can name anyone as a benefactor to retirement funds.
  • President Bush has already offered an improvement to Social Security that would offer partial ownership of future funds – ownership that could be transferred to anyone upon death. (Need I note that Democrats squashed this plan??)
  • One can already enter into a legal contract regarding when and who can assume legal guardianship over another.
  • One can name anyone as executor and as a benefactor in a will.
  • Tax policy can be changed to neutralize the marriage benefit – or eliminate the marriage tax. The proposed national sales tax known as the Fair Tax would provide the most marriage neutral benefit of all for it taxes spending, not income.



Blogger Bill Garnett said...

You state: “The definition of marriage is not based on love. It is based on the union of biological opposites – of two who are of the opposite sex – of one man and one woman. (This is the reason, and the only reason, that marriage is limited to two individuals for there are exactly two biological sexes – male and female.)

I get your definition, but to assert that it is THE defining definition is arrogant, as it is just your contrived definition made to support your argument.

You want THE definition to be YOUR definition.

Actually the Merriam-Webster definition is: (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage.

Certainly Massachusetts and many western countries define it differently than you – so, I guess there is a difference of opinion on the matter.

And marriage has evolved over time and place from being polygamous, to being almost a property transaction. A starting point to examine marriage today might best be argued by the following that is taken from the book, Inside the American Couple, edited by Yalom and Carstensen:

"One of the most fundamental urges of human existence is to form a pair. Something in us calls for another—friend, lover, companion, spouse. Or perhaps it is something not in us, some lack, some deficit, that hungers for completion. In the Symposium, Plato fancifully expressed this craving by having Aristophanes contend that the first humans were unseparated twins who, once they were split apart, pined away for the missing half.

Sociobiologists assume that the search for a mate is propelled by an animal instinct to copulate. Human attachment theorists locate the source of adult pairing in the child-mother bond. Anthropologists look to the central importance of kinship systems in human cultures as an explanation for the universality of marriage. Political scientists understand marriage as an institutional means of assuring societal stability. Existentialists see the desire to merge with another as a way of attenuating a basic sense of isolation. Jews and Christians traditionally believe that marriage is ordained by God. Whether primacy is accorded to sexual, psychological, anthropological, political, existential, or religious factors, there is broad agreement that coupledom provides a viable answer to a basic human longing.

Here we are at the dawn of a new millennium still cherishing the belief that being part of a couple represents some central part of being human. Individuals, despite gender and sexual orientation, continue to search for soul mates, to move in together, to vow to love each other, and, when legally allowed, to enter into marriages. Despite myriad modern tendencies that could render long-term couplehood obsolete (such as casual sex, cohabitation, and increase in divorce and single parenting), more than 90 percent of Americans marry at some time during their lives. However anxious we may be as a society in the face of dissolving marriages and dysfunctional families, individuals continue to place their hopes in the marital bond. They exchange public promises to remain together—for better, for worse, for a lifetime. And among those who do not marry, partnering is still very widespread; few people live through adulthood without at least one lengthy, intimate relationship."

9/17/2006 12:32 PM  

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