Thursday, March 28, 2013

Battleground

It's persuasive speaking time in my classes again.  Yesterday, as an example of arguing by definition, we discussed the gay 'marriage' debate.  It had been a topic in some of my students' other classes.  In a nutshell, here's what we came up with.

If you are for gay 'marriage' you are arguing for freedom of association, which is the last part of the First Amendment.  The definition of marriage being used is, "Two persons joined in a legal union to provide legitimacy to sexual activity and child rearing."  I'm paraphrasing from a student's notes in his sociology class. 

If you are against gay 'marriage' you are arguing for freedom of religion, which is the first part of the First Amendment.  The definition of marriage being used is, "A legally binding union of a man and a woman."  This definition does not reduce marriage to sex and children.

Given the state of our current culture, why would any group feel the need to legitimize sexual activity?  (Child rearing is understandable, because if rampant divorce has shown us anything, it has shown us that parents can be legally excluded from raising their children.)  Sexual activity, we are told, is not to be inhibited in any way.  Doesn't creating an exclusive, legally binding union of two people to legitimize sexual activity seem odd?  Aren't people told that feelings and desires trump vows and legalities every time?

One of my students asked about infertile couples.  Infertile couples became the equivalent of gay couples in his estimation.  In this way legal standing for the 'marriage' was again only significant if there are children, adopted, or created in anything other than the natural manner.

Next we spoke of the impact of religion in states where gay 'marriage is allowed.  Most of my students were unaware that gay 'marriage' laws had restricted religious organizations. I spoke to them about the Catholic adoption agencies that had been forced to close in Massachusetts and Illinois. I explained that if the governments of those states made providing adoption services to gay couples equivalent to married couples, then Catholics had no choice but to stop providing adoptions, even though they had always been the largest providers of adoption services in the states.

I believe in the end, my students saw the importance of this debate, many for the first time.  They now have been told that the government can essentially close religious charitable institutions by forcing ideology that is counter to their faith.  They have now heard that if gay 'marriage' is made law, churches may close rather than conform with the law.  Churches may require persons being married to find another way, rather than a church wedding, so that the church is not forced to provide same-sex 'wedding' ceremonies.

This is a battle of freedom of religion versus freedom of association.  If the very small minority of active homosexuals who want gay marriage are unwilling to bend, the other 98% of our country loses it's freedom of religion.  Whether that bothers you or not is a sure indication of your actual tolerance of diverse beliefs.
If the homosexual lobby wins, even their supporters lose. Catholics, Baptists, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Muslims, and Jews lose freedom of religion in practice.

If traditional marriage supporters win, gay couples still have other legal avenues for sex and children.  This is the argument that must be made.
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