Friday, June 24, 2011

The Gay Marriage Debate

I wanted to share with you parts of an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education that I found very interesting.  This article comes from their blog "Brainstorm: The Chronicle Review's Blog on Ideas and Culture" and concerns the upcoming gay marriage vote in the New York Legislature.

Gay Marriage: A Plea to the Legislators of New York

June 19, 2011, By Michael Ruse
In 1887 Marian (“Mady”) Collier, daughter of Darwin’s “bulldog” Thomas Henry Huxley, died at the age of 38.  She had long been plagued by depressions and had verged right over into madness, but it seems that it was pneumonia that struck the final blow.  Her distraught husband, the painter John Collier, found support and consolation within his wife’s family and two years later married Marian’s younger sister Ethel.  However, to do so, it was necessary for the couple to travel to Norway.  In Britain, at that time, a man was not allowed to marry the sister of a dead wife.  It was thought that the possibility would lead to too many temptations, not all of which would be resisted.
The moral I want to draw from this story is that marriage as a social custom is not something like a 3, 4, 5 triangle.  They are all right angled, and no non-right angled triangle is 3, 4, 5, and that is the end of the matter.  What a marriage is and who is allowed to marry whom is not written in stone or reflection of a Platonic Form or whatever.  We allow someone to marry the sister of a dead wife.  The Victorians did not.  (There is a joke about this in Iolanthe, the opera by Gilbert and Sullivan.  “He shall prick that annual blister.  Marriage with the deceased wife’s sister.”  The prohibition was lifted in 1907.)
Charles Darwin married his first cousin Emma.  Some societies allow this, almost insist on it.  Others, prohibit it.  (Texas added the prohibition in 2005.)  Some societies allow men to marry more than one wife (and, rarely, the other way around).  Others prohibit it.  Some societies allow people of two different racial backgrounds to marry.  Others prohibit it.  And so forth.  And the bible is not an awful lot of help.  Think David.  Think Solomon.  Then think Saint Paul, who thought that marriage was always second best.  Really, you should not get into it at all.
Marriage itself is not just one thing and it certainly is not just a religious thing.  Charles and Emma married for a number of reasons.  The first is that Charles was pretty randy (one suspects Emma too, although there is less written evidence).  The second is that they were lonely and looking for mates. The third was certainly religious in Emma’s case although less so in Charles.  This is not to say that he would ever have thought of living in a relationship without the formality of marriage.  He was not George Eliot.  The fourth, and this was overwhelmingly important, is that by Charles and Emma marrying, the very substantial family fortune—they were both grandchildren of Josiah Wedgwood the potter—would remain a very substantial family fortune. Since Charles returned from the Beagle voyage in 1836, more than one mama with marriageable daughters had been inviting him to supper and picnics and more.
As it happens, Charles and Emma had a wonderful marriage, raising many children and being loving companions for over 40 years.  But all of this reinforces the point that marriage is not, as I have said, a 3, 4, 5 triangle.  It is partly biological.  It is partly social and cultural.  Sometimes it is a good thing.  Sometimes it is not.  (Said he, with much experience.)  But overall it is a very human thing and, frankly if two people want to get married, then that should be their business and not ours.  (As a professional philosopher, I am only too aware that one can think up counter-examples to this general rule, but let us take those as given.) To read the rest of this article, Click Here.
Michael Ruse directs the program in history and philosophy of science at Florida State University. His forthcoming book is Science and Spirituality: Making Room for Faith in the Age of Science.

I recently received an email asking if I would promote a blog post about the Gay Marriage Debate. Donna Cullen who sent the email to me, thought that my readers and I would appreciate taking a look at the blogs listed. I have checked out several of the blogs mentioned, and they do seem very interesting, so I hope you will go check out this post: “Yay or Nay: Top 20 Blogs Debating Gay Marriage.

I personally, agree with the picture above.  The main thing that will happen if gays are allowed to marry is that gay people will get married.  Besides, I have always thought it would be a great boost to the economy.  Think about it:  
  • Who will throw the most fabulous weddings? Gay men. 
  • Who will register for beautiful (and probably expensive gifts)? Gay men.
  • Who will buy those gifts? The friends and family of gay men.
How could that not be great for the economy?  Weddings are expensive, let gay men and women do it with style.

Click "Read More" to see the list of the Gay Marriage Supporters from Yay or Nay: Top 20 Blogs Debating Gay Marriage.

Gay Marriage Supporters

  1. The Gay Marriage Blog – This is an Australian blog that covers the gay marriage debate in a very global manner, providing news updates from many different countries.
  2. Gay.AmericaBlog – Since this is one of the top gay rights advocacy blogs, gay marriage is certainly one of its top topics.
  3. 365 Gay – The blog for this website provides continual updates on news items related to gay issues, gay marriage, of course, being one of them.
  4. Good As You – Legalization of gay marriage is being promoted in a big way on this blog that is unapologetic in its stand on homosexuality.
  5. Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage – This blog, by the author of a book by the same title, takes the debate a step beyond gay rights and argues for rights of all and any type of family unit.
  6. LGBT Minute – Activism and news for the entire LBBT community is promoted on this blog. The gay marriage rights debate continues to be a hot issue.
  7. Believe Out Loud – This site is a gathering spot for Christians that support gay marriage and greater acceptance of gays within Christian churches.
  8. Straight Not Narrow – A uniquely, evangelical Christian voice in support of gay rights and gay marriage.
  9. Gay Politics – There are few items more central to the topic of gay politics than gay marriage rights, so you will find it to be a central theme on this blog.
  10. Out Front – Discussions on all LGBT issues are covered on this blog. Gay marriage is certainly not left out.
(Check out the blog post, Yay or Nay: Top 20 Blogs Debating Gay Marriage, for those who are against)


Buddy Bear said...

I know Canada is "off the radar" to the majority of Americans, but we've had full same-sex marriage rights for over ten years. Same-sex marriage has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada and implicitly enshrined in our constitution.

We have not gone to heck in a handbasket, or have our society or family structure collapse. Same sex marriage in Canada is non-event. No one cares, really, except for the LGBT people who are allowed to marry the person they love.

Graham said...

We in the UK have civil partnership which in all legal aspects is the same as marriage. It has brought happiness to many couples who can have a simple ceremony or a very elaborate one. However at this moment they can not have a religous ceremony, but this is under review.

The point that I want to make is that it has not attacked or undermined hetrosexual marriage, rather it has shared in the same values and seeks the same ends as hetrosexual marriage.

Joe said...

Buddy Bear and Graham, I can't understand the objections people have to gay marriage in America. It works elsewhere just fine, as you both stated. However, the religious right in America has a lot of political clout and keep things constantly stirred up. America is behind much of the West in social liberalism. We need to get over ourselves and follow our Declaration of Independence which states that "all men are created equal."