Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Biological Equality" Man of Straw

In reply to: Breakfast Scramble | BitsBlog--and specifically this:

"Common sense in the face of stupity, Donald Douglas, American Power:

Same-sex couples cannot claim to be biologically equal to heterosexual couples. What they seek is to change society’s discourse and overturn the historical and regenerative conception of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Same sex couples need to talk to God if they seek equality."


"Biological equality" is a straw man. Same sex couples are not claiming men and women are biologically equal. They are claiming that men and women are (or should be) equal under the law.

The ability to procreate is lovely, but it is not the be all and end all of the legal marriage contract. It never has been. The idea that the state has an interest in restricting the legal benefits of marriage to those who have parts that fit together biologically is crazy. (If it was about procreation, the state would deny marriage to those who are too old, sick, or philospohically opposed to having children.) People marry for all sorts of reasons, many of which are applicable to same sex couples, as well.

Relying on historical concepts as a reason to avoid moving forward doesn't hold much water, either. The idea that, "We must continue to do it this way, because we've always done it this way before." is a denial of every step forward man has ever taken. To be sure, not all change is good; but it is equally true that not all change is bad, either. The fact that same sex marriage has never been permitted before is not a reason to deny permitting it now, any more than the fact that it is permitted in some places already is a reason to automatically permit it everywhere. Many laws have changed, in spite of their being laws for a very long time. People change and grow. Situations change. Knowledge changes. History doesn't have all the answers.

Besides, no one's wiping out traditional marriage. Those who want their marriage to be between one man and one woman will still be able to do so, whether or not they wish to procreate. The only difference will be, they will have less legal say in the "marriages" of those who don't love as they do.

Added here, 4-29-09, 2:11 pm (Eastern), in light of the site's odd comment policy:

My rules are simple; This is my place, which gives me the right to do anything I jolly well please with it, including editing, or even rejecting your comments. By submitting a comment here you agree to these rules. -Bithead

On the off chance "Bithead" decides to edit my comment so it says something else (and with a policy like that, who knows?), I want it posted here, as written.


Donald Douglas said...


Epic fail, Reppy!

"Many seem to believe that marriage is simply a private love relationship between two people. They accept this view, in part, because Americans have increasingly emphasized and come to value the intimate, emotional side of marriage, and in part because almost all opinion leaders today, from journalists to judges, strongly embrace this position. That's certainly the idea that underpinned the California Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage.

But I spent a year studying the history and anthropology of marriage, and I've come to a different conclusion.

Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving, and many of its features vary across groups and cultures. But there is one constant. In all societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood. Among us humans, the scholars report, marriage is not primarily a license to have sex. Nor is it primarily a license to receive benefits or social recognition. It is primarily a license to have children.

In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its next generation. Marriage (and only marriage) unites the three core dimensions of parenthood -- biological, social and legal -- into one pro-child form: the married couple. Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born, there is a recognized mother and a father, accountable to the child and to each other."

Better come up with some new ideas. There's no strawman here!


repsac3 said...

Thanks for sharing your opinion professor Douglas, but both you and your long, unattributed quote fail to reply to what I actually wrote.

You (and David Blankenhorn, that guy you quote in your comment without citation) are welcome to have and hold your opinion about marriage being primarily a license to have children, but you're naive and full of yourself if you believe its' the only opinion out there.

Many recognize that marriage has many societal and individual goods quite apart from the possibility that children may result from the union, and that, if they do, the traditional marriage relationship is generally the most ideal setting for child-rearing. Blankenhorn himself, in the first paragraph you quote, all but admits that the view you two hold isn't the only one out there, and that Americans are increasingly seeing those other "goods" as being at least as important as the biological potential of conceiving children and raising them, should that potential come to fruition.

The strawman, by the way, was the line about homosexual couples claiming "biological equality" to heterosexual couples that appeared on your blog, and was quoted at both the "Breakfast Scramble" blog and here in this post. The fact that you neglect to rebut the point I made about that line of straw in your comment here says much.

So, thanks for stopping by, (and for borrowing the "epic fail" meme from the cool kids, which always makes me laugh as much as any 16 year old's lingo coming out of his parent's mouth does), but if ignoring the central point and posting long unattributed quotes is all you have, you might just as well not bothered.

Kudos for managing to post an on topic comment, though... Perhaps I should just be grateful for that one small favor, and leave it at that.