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June, 2011

  1. Marriage Rights and Wrongs

    June 24, 2011 by Ryan

    This writing will be an attempt to solidify many thoughts I’ve considered recently. I apologize if it doesn’t gel together completely. It has been on my mind and I wanted to get it in writing quickly.

    There has been some very emotional discussion about marriage recently, as another state has narrowly voted to accept marriage between two individuals of the same gender.

    Many are declaring that the “rights” of a minority are being affirmed and upheld in this decision. I caution anyone listening to consider that making up new “rights” is a very slippery slope to travel.

    Now that we all have open minds and embrace new ideas, how far do we want to swing that door of acceptable marriage practices?

    For example, is America finally tolerant enough to accept a man who petitions the government for recognition of his marriage to two women simultaneously? All of the parties are consenting adults, after all. All of them love one another with devotion, and seek to openly pledge that love before the world. How is it different than any of the emotional arguments that have persuaded us recently? The two women could now marry one another under the law, so why should we forbid a third party to enter the relationship?

    Or perhaps we should reexamine the behind-the-times thinking of age limits for the parties involved. If a fourteen-year old male wants to pledge his love to a sixty-two-year-old male, what should stop the two from joining in holy matrimony? Amend the example and make the younger partner into a female, and ask the same question?

    If you are shivering with repulsion on these ideas, then you are simply intolerant and bigoted. There can be no other explanation for your hatred and inhumane refusal to recognize the rights of these minority individuals. Are they not seeking the same happiness that you are entitled to? Should their right also be protected?

    My point in proposing these examples is not to advocate for them; rather, it is to open your eyes to the very real possibilities of what new marriage-defining may come next.

    So let me take you back to a discussion of basic rights.

    The largely accepted definition of marriage in European and later American culture has for centuries been defined as between one man and one woman. This definition likely came from religious preferences and teaching. Some would seek to dismiss any further argument or enforcement simply because of the religious definition. I again caution you to carefully consider that attitude.

    There has existed another religiously-based teaching for centuries. It is taught as a religious principle in many faiths that it is wrong to take the life of another human being. This religious ideal has found its way into American law. Should we now dismiss this too, simply because it has a rooting in religious tradition. Or is there wisdom in it?

    Apply the same question to the marriage debate. Recognizing that many religions stake a claim in the question, set all of that that aside and ask if it is beneficial? If a principle is of value, it should be able to stand on its own merit.

    A marriage between a man and a woman ideally will provide an opportunity for children to be born, raised, nurtured; and to grow to responsible adulthood. That is the ideal. This is probably the societal benefit expected when marriage was granted legal recognition and status.

    Some have argued that many marriages between one man and one woman fail frequently to fulfill that  purpose. Some marriages are entered into carelessly and recklessly from the beginning, and bear society no good. Many marriages suffer as years go by, and they fail. If your objective is to hold up examples of failure and say, “I want the right to do that too!” – then more power to you. The framework was available to the couple that they could succeed – that they didn’t was their own fault.

    The framework of traditionally-defined marriage does not allow same-gender couples to accomplish the same societal objective. It cannot.

    A counterfit $20 bill, though it be called a $20 bill, and painted to look like a $20 dollar bill, does not hold the same value as the genuine article.

    Psychologists are confirming in many studies that the nurture of a mother and the presence of a father in a home is beneficial to raising healthy, well-adjusted children. Yes, there are exceptions. Some children come from broken homes; some split time between homes with real parents and step-parents. Some come from homes with only one parent available. Some homes with both male and female parents are present but do a miserable job of parenting. There are always exceptions to the rule. If we are honest about what we know, we will acknowledge that no home will be perfect, but we know where the best chances can occur, and societies interest should be to encourage that framework and discourage the others.

    It will be interesting to see how and where this debate takes us. Religious freedom will certainly play into the debate. Will religious freedom be trampled by laws forcing the acceptance of new types of marriage? Will religious institutions that provide adoption or foster care programs be required to set their beliefs aside to accommodate secular policy? Will church-owned schools be forced to enact policies that contradict their stated religious missions?

    I read that some believe the acceptance of new marriage definitions will eventually be embraced upon the entire nation. As you might infer from my thoughts expressed today, it may take me some time and consideration before I do any embracing of the matter.