Why should government endorse same sex marriage?


The above fictional account touches on the gimmicky raffles the Obama campaign has been using to raise money.  Small-time donors first had a chance to meet George Clooney, and now  Sarah Jessica Parker.  For Mother’s Day, there was the opportunity to win mom a tweet from the President himself.

The other issue I’ve depicted and invite you examine for the remainder of this post is gay marriage.  The tendency in the public square is to conflate cultural practice with government endorsement.  We saw this two weeks ago when some folks were upset with North Carolina’s poll but pleased with President Obama’s evolution.  If we want a lucid discourse on marriage, we need to parse the cultural practice from government endorsement.  The critical question to ask: why is this new task of endorsement—with its associated costs—necessary?

Supporters of gay marriage often say it’s a civil  rights issue, inviting a comparison to the historic plight of racial minorities.  But the gay community’s experience today is nothing like the suffering under Jim Crow.  The collective socioeconomic status of homosexuals doesn’t reflect some sort of pervasive systemic bias.  And Federal laws already protect against sexual orientation discrimination.  The relative lack of exigency is a strike against the necessity of endorsement.

Yet, through personal experience, many feel gay marriage to have the moral force of a civil rights issue.  “Equality!” is the cry.  What is government supposed to equalize: individuals or relationships?  The state certainly treats individuals differently.  Men must sign up for selective service; women don’t.  Divorcing mothers tend to win custody over fathers.  And government  justifiably treats relationships differently too:  marriages are proscribed on the basis on age, blood relation, ability to consent, or number of  partners in the relationship.  Having strong feelings about equality doesn’t make government endorsement necessary.

The question remains, why endorse?  One with an expansive view of government may say that endorsement validates or affirms the humanity of gay individuals.  But personal affirmation is not the state’s  business.  We all have God-breathed dignity in spite of what government says about us.  Dissidents living under oppressive regimes around the world know this.  It’s our patrimony as Americans to know and live this truth without such pointed help from Uncle Sam.

In opening up two weeks ago, Vice President Biden gushed about commitment and love.  But governmental recognition of marriage, which boils down to enforcing a contract, is an unsexy thing.  It’s not about feeling love or commitment.  It’s a man and woman assenting to being bound by the law, with the end of raising children well in mind.  With the contract, the couple faces an increased cost of separation, and so does the court system for that matter.  This is another reason why government shouldn’t recognize relationships it doesn’t have to.  And it doesn’t have to because same sex couples never produce children naturally, while opposite sex couples do all the time.  Simultaneously, they face pressures that would separate them from each other.  It’s a bit ignoble, but that is the human condition.

All this to say government needn’t recognize gay marriage.  In fact, the  push for recognition sends the dangerous signal that government’s role is to correct every perceived societal slight, or worse, validate our personal feelings.  Each of us should feel free to pursue any relationship or endeavor we find fulfilling.  Just keep government out of it if you’re able.

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About cogitating duck
I study Christian apologetics at Biola University and occasionally write on ethics, truth, science and politics.

2 Responses to Why should government endorse same sex marriage?

  1. Grady says:

    Excellent post! The government can do nothing other than offer contracts between individuals, and yet, that contract is rejected by most of the gay marriage supporters even though that contract would give them all the benefits they claim they don’t have under the current laws.

    We’re constantly told that the current law is discriminatory, yet, as you pointed out, the law must be discriminatory or it has no function (if nobody can break the law, it has no purpose, and yet the very act of stating one person is breaking the law and one is not is dicriminatory by definition). And you also point out that the argument of equality is often based on equality of relationships and not equality of individuals.

    No, the real drive is to force cultural acceptance through legislation, and when the legislation fails, as it has in so many states, to force it through judicial activism.

    The desire to redefine marriage, a largely religious term in this society other than the governmental contract that goes by the same name, by a largely (not totally) irreligious group does not make sense. It makes even less sense that they reject the redefining of the governmental contract side of the term while leaving the religous side alone. The only logical explanation I can conceive is that it is a direct attack on the religious institution of marriage, despite the claims that religious freedoms will be not be affected. We can see how government intervention deals with those religious freedoms in the current contraceptives debates.

    Sorry for jumping across so many topics there, but your post brought up a lot of thoughts.

  2. Wow, I enjoyed this a lot. I’m getting tired of seeing all the “equality” talk on Facebook and not knowing how to respond. Honestly, compared to economics, I think this is a a much more difficult issue to debate. Because it doesn’t rely as much as pure statistics – it’s all feelings. And people feel very strongly about this issue, to the point of insulting those who try to disagree.

    This is a great way to help people realize that the government shouldn’t recognize gay marriage, because it’s unnecessary.

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