The Same-Sex Marriage Debate Is NOT About Equal Rights

Posted: April 2, 2013 in Apologetics, Christians & Culture, Homosexuality & Same-Sex Marriage, Politics

marriage-equalityProponents of same-sex marriage often complain they are denied equality – deprived of the same rights heterosexuals possess. This complaint is usually lodged against the opposition of legalized same-sex marriage and the benefits associated. Is this a just charge? Are homosexuals being denied constitutional rights because of their sexual preferences? No. As it stands, homosexuals have the same rights as every other U.S. citizen – they can marry any eligible member of the opposite sex. The reason this response will not satisfy the homosexual lies with his desire for an additional right, a right no other person has: the right to marry someone of the same sex.

Given the current situation, homosexuals have the right to love and be in relationship with a member of the same sex without government interference. However, advocates of same-sex marriage are not content with this right. They want legal sanction, public approval, and recognition of their relationship, something we are not obliged to give. Christians, therefore, are not treating homosexuals unjustly and unfairly when defending a traditional view of marriage, for we are in favor of all individuals possessing the same basic rights. Rather, we are resisting the call to redefine a natural institution in a manner we find erroneous. By opposing same-sex marriage, Christians are refusing to offer a stamp of approval on a lifestyle deemed immoral and rejecting the notion that society’s most basic unit, the family, can be redefined to fit cultural preference. The push for same-sex marriage is not about rights and equality, but about acceptance, approval, and respect. To be an effective ambassador for Christ, one must uncover these root issues and winsomely engage them, rather than focusing on the peripheral notions of rights and equality.

What about the benefits that accompany marriage such as tax breaks? Are same-sex couples being unfairly discriminated against through the withholding of these benefits? Discrimination? Yes. Unfair? No. The government has a compelling interest in promoting the traditional family unit, for a flourishing society is comprised of families. Additionally, marriage, as a rule, involves children; therefore, tax breaks and group insurance help alleviate the costs associated with raising those children. So this issue is not that same-sex couples are being discriminated against any more than any other non-marital relationship. Rather, traditional marriage relationships are recognized and privileged for their unique value and the critical role they play in our society. Greg Koukl sums it up well: “There is no obligation for government to give every human coupling the same entitlements simply to ‘stabilize’ the relationship. The unique benefits of marriage fit its unique purpose. Marriage is not meant to be a shortcut to group insurance rates or tax relief. It’s meant to build families.”[1]

To learn more about this topic and others related to same-sex marriage, please download this free booklet here.
Jordan


Comments
  1. This argument contains familiar flaws. If the purpose of marrying is “to build families”, why allow opposite-sex marriage between people too old to bear children, or who are otherwise infertile? The scriptural support for marriage is to promote monogamous, loving partnership. St. Paul could no more imagine a monogamous same-sex couple than he could conceive of a nuclear weapon, so his opinion isn’t relevant. (No, I don’t consider the “all books in the Bible are equally inspired by God” position as valid. It sets up too many contradictions. If Jesus didn’t say it, it’s less true.)

    I’m willing to wait for those opposed to the compassionate acceptance of same-sex marriage to either die off, or to get over it. It’s going to happen, because most of us want it to, and we don’t live in a theocracy.

    • Jordan Tong says:

      Mikey, I did not say that the purpose of marriage is to build families. I think that is one of the purposes. I will be posting tomorrow about what I think is the government’s role in the issue, but briefly here are my thoughts regarding your objection. The traditional family unit (i.e. a man and women and a long-term committed relationship that bring forth the next generation) is the cornerstone of society. Apart from it, there is not society as we know it. Therefore, the government has a compelling interest in protecting and promoting this unique institution. Now I realize that not all heterosexual marriages do not have children, but this is not the point. It is the unique family unit, the traditional marriage that as a rule, as a group, and by nature, bring forth the next generation. The government protects, promotes, and privileges this unique institution because it observes it (it did not create it) and it is what makes societies flourish. So it is the whole family unit that is unique and special, not just the ability to have a kid. If you check out what I post tomorrow, you will see a further development of my thoughts.

  2. Yura Douche says:

    When you argue that marriage is about the SEX of the other person, you automatically make same-sex marriage constitutional via middle-tier scrutiny under Equal Protection (Gender Equality). There’s a reason why same-sex opponents haven’t used this logic in their legal arguments. It’s an ineffective argument. You should stick to your Bible instead of pontificating about the law. You’re way out of your league.

    • Jordan Tong says:

      Yura, although I’m not an attorney, I would take issue with your disagreements regarding middle-tier scrutiny, but that is not the point I am trying to make. My goal is not to create a legal argument that I think will win over the Supreme Court. Rulings change, the court evolves, etc. Certainly we can play the legal game to attempt to get our way. (Don’t get me wrong, I think we have a fairly good legal system.) But as a general argument for the general person to understand, I think my points are valid. Certainly we can press the legal system for technicalities, but my general point stands. Additionally, regardless of how the LGTB community would to accuse me of trying to impose my morals while they are just pushing for equality, this is a moral issue. In a recent lecture, Harvard professor Michael Sandel makes this point clear. If the government rules in favor of SSM, it is must first make a moral judgement in its favor. So as to recap the point of my blog, this is much more than a “rights” issue.

  3. Ty says:

    I do not believe gay people need the “approval of Christians.” The issue (for me) resides with the legal protections and responsibilities that a “marriage” offers in the terms of Federal Law. This is not forcing Christians to recognize, like, accept, etc. gay marriage. It is the recognition of the state (federal and state) of the legal union. Perhaps it would be best that the government just have Civil Unions for everyone (opposite-gender or same-gender) that would bestow all the current rights and responsiblities of marriage (in the eyes of the law) and then matrimony would be for the church/religious ceremony. Remember at the end of a wedding, part of the wording “and the power vested by the state of “X.”

    Your assertation that “marriage as a rule includes children” could lead some to believe that only people who can and will have children should be allowed to marry. Then you add something about tax breaks and group insurance, again, tying them to the “children.” As suprising as this might be, gay people have children and their parents should be afforded the same legal protections and opposite-gender parents. Are those “children” less worthy of the protections of having two parents legally married??

    I could be wrong, but I don’t remember reading anything where Christ talks about gay people.

    Since you also assert that gay people are immoral, I definitely am not seeking your acceptance.

    Similar arguements were used to ban inter-racial marriages.

    Lots more to pick apart, but I’ll leave it at that and know that while you will continue to believe your own arguement, that history will be on the side of equality. There is that little notion of the “equal protection clause.”

    • Jordan Tong says:

      Ty, I guess I would ask you what “right” a homosexual is currently being deprived of? The following quote is from an attorney friend of mine where he commented on my fb page: “Gay couples can execute wills naming the other as sole beneficiary of their property and executor of their estate. They can make the other their health care surrogate, which would allow full hospital visitation rights and empower the other to make medical decisions. They can name the other as power of attorney to do all things in the place of the other, incluidng making major medical and financial decisions. They can name the other beneficiary of life insurance policies and bank accounts. They can buy and own property in survivorship. They can name the other guardian of their children. They can take on the name of their partner. Anyone can change his/her name. I would agree that gay couples cannot file tax returns as a married couple, which I am not sure makes a difference. some married couples choose to file seperately and actually come out better. I would also agree that some health insurance plans will not cover a gay partner, although that is quickly changing. To the extent that private health insurance plans do not cover unmarried couples, those companies have the freedom to change their policies despite how government defines marriage. Those companies could also choose to refuse to cover gay spouses, barring any new law that would prevent such discrimination. So I do not find the argument persuasive that gay marriage is necessary to confer rights upon the other spouse.”

      Regarding your second paragraph, see my comments to Mikey for answering the “only marriages that produce children are recognized.” As for the parenting/adoption issue, some state allow both partners legal custody. Again, as was the point of my post, this is not about rights. It is about something else.

      Regarding Jesus, just because he didn’t talk about something, does not me that he endorses it. He did not talk about gang rape, bestiality, torture, and a whole host of other things that we all know are obviously wrong. (Please know that I am not comparing homosexuality to these things.) If you truly interested in learning what Jesus and the rest of the Bible says about sexuality and marriage, I would encourage you to read the booklet that I referenced. I just think we must be careful about using Jesus to justify what we already want to do (This applies to me as well).

      Regarding acceptance, marriage is getting the acceptance and approval of society. So if you are advocating for SSM, then yes, you are seeking my approval. If it is about rights, then you would be fighting for specific rights.

      Regarding interracial marriage arguments, just because you can find some similarities in the arguments does not mean they are the same. These are two fundamentally different arguments.

      I realize that SSM will most likely win out, but history is not filled with bliss and progress is not always good. Just because the majority accept an opinion does not mean it is right.

      Thanks for the comments. I respect your disagreements. Often disagreements on this topic are very heated, but I appreciate your apparent kindness.

      Jordan

  4. “The law in its majestic equality…” (JFGI)

  5. Jeff Warren says:

    “homosexuals have the same rights as every other U.S. citizen – they can marry any eligible member of the opposite sex.” – that is akin to banning temples but telling Jews that they have the same right as every other citizen to attend any Christian church they want.

    “Now I realize that not all heterosexual marriages do not have children, but this is not the point.” – Why the double standard? – Heterosexuals have no requirement – or even need to have the ability – to have children, but homosexuals do?

    “Marriage is not meant to be a shortcut to group insurance rates or tax relief. It’s meant to build families.” – Fine, let’s say that’s the purpose of marriage. There are millions of children living with gay and lesbian parents. Why not allow them to live a as strong as a family as possible? The way to give these kids protection is to allow their parents to be married. Why punish these children? (Many of which adopted because they were abandoned by their – you guessed it – heterosexual parents.)

    • Jordan Tong says:

      Jeff, that is not AT ALL a similar comparison. Now if I was seeking to ban homosexual relationships, then it would be a similar.

      Regarding children, you obviously missed the point. Read the sentences after the sentence you quoted. Bringing up exceptions is not a valid argument for fundamentally altering the definition of a natural institution. As a rule, as a group, and by nature, long-term, heterosexual relationships bring forth the next generation. One other thing to point out is what philosophers call first order and second order capacities. Being able to speak English is a first order capacity that I have. Although I can’t speak Russian, I have the capacity to have the capacity to speak Russian. This is a unique feature of being human. This distinction if fundamental in understanding human rights. Human rights should not (as is the case with nut job Peter Singer) be based on our first order capacities (e.g. the capacity to reason or communicate), but rather on our second order capacities (e.g. the capacity to have the capacity to reason or communicate). Now to tie this in to the SSM debate: all heterosexual couples have the second order capacity to bear children. It is unique to that natural arrangement. Based on this, I think an argument can be made regarding the ability to have children even if “that specific couple” can’t have children. I realize this gets a little technical, but I think it sticks.

      Regarding adoption – First, you can’t take an existing tragedy or evil (i.e. abandoned children), and use that as an argument for legalizing SSM. But that aside, why do you need government sanction and approval of your relationship to provide a strong family? I think this once again proves my point that the SSM proponents want something different than rights and equality. It is about acceptance, normality, approval, and respect. You want the world to look at your family and give the nod of approval – anything less makes you feel that the family is weakened. But respectively, I don’t think we are obliged to give that approval.

      Jordan

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