Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Marriage in the Modern Society

Patrick O'Hannigan, better known as the Paragraphfarmer, described my view of marriage as "oversimplified to the point of unworkability." He may be right, but let's talk about it a bit. When I said I favored gay marriage, I was talking only about civil marriage and it's important to distinguish that from religious marriage. Not being religious myself, I would not presume to tell any religious organizations what restrictions to put on their marriages (except to note I'm a bit puzzled how any organization that believes in a holy scripture that calls for all gay people to be stoned to death can justify accepting gay marriages). But what role does marriage play in modern society? The question used to be easy to answer. Marriage was a way of controlling procreation and ensuring, as much as possible, that the children would be raised in a stable, two-parent family that would pass along the knowledge and social principles of the society. The connection between marriage and children has long since been broken, however. I once had a friend tell me that gay marriage was a "wedge" issue that would galvanize the right and cause revolution in our society. I disagreed, largely because if anything would have done that it would have been gay adoption. After all, gay marriage only effects the two getting married. Gay adoption deeply effects the adopted child. Yet that battle was fought and decided without sparking a revolution. Single parents & gays can adopt. Massive numbers of children are born out of wedlock or raised out of wedlock because of divorces. Americans routinely marry with no intention of having children and have children with no intention of marrying. Of course, anyone who believes (as I do) that it is healthier for children to be raised in a stable two-parent home is free to marry )as I've done) and raise their children in just such a home (as I have done). By why force that model on others? So if marriage is no longer about raising our children, what is the point of marriage? Well, it unquestionably provides financial benefits to the married. It returns some benefit to the society as the marriage partners can help each other, especially in their old age and are less likely to become dependent on the state. These financial considerations apply regardless of the gender of the married couple. Extensive same-gender marriages would likely reduce the birth rate, which, at least for now, is more a plus than a minus. Many governmental (and private) organizations have extended marriage benefits to domestic partners. What is the point in banning civil same-gender marriages? Unless one is determined to impose religious views that disapprove of homosexuality, what rational basis is there for giving heterosexuals rights that you deny to homosexuals? I have not found that question easy to answer. As always, I look forward to your responses.