Rebirth of Reason


Marriage Needs No Defense
by Matthew Graybosch

For whatever reason, people think that the institution of marriage is under threat. People blame the possibility of gay and lesbian couples marrying for the "threat" to marriage. People blame the high divorce rate for the "threat" to marriage. Some people even blame Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez for the "threat" to marriage. Of course, since some people think that there exists a "threat" to marriage, their natural reaction is to rush to the defense of marriage.

Religionists prate about marriage being a gift from their Deity that ought to be reserved for those who obey their Deity. This naturally excludes gays and lesbians, even though most of them did not ask to have a preference for their own sex. The politicians, naturally, think that they can defend marriage by means of legislation, and the legislation they propose naturally excludes everybody but heterosexual couples. Worse still, their legislation makes no allowance for the possibility that a couple has nothing more of value to gain from their partnership, and their interests would be best served by dissolving the marriage. There are even those who espouse a rational philosophy and passionately advocate individual rights and personal responsibility who think that marriage can be protected from irrelevance by treating it as a contract to be enforced by the government.

Neither the religionists nor the politicians nor those who view marriage as a contract are helping. Marriage is not a bond created by the incantations of a priest. Marriage is not something that the government can create, recognise, or has any business rewarding with "tax breaks", and it most certainly not some kind of contract created by two lovers as if their love was a business partnership.

Those who seek to defend marriage mean well, but it must be said that burying marriage under piles of ritual and legalism does nothing but cheapen marriage. Marriage is not a state created by the church or the state; marriage is created by two individuals who value one another as highly as they value themselves. A marriage ceremony creates nothing; it only confirms what already exists. A marriage ceremony should not change a man's regard for his lover; it should only be a means of announcing that regard to his family and friends.

Speaking as one who intends to marry the woman he loves, I already consider myself married, and have considered myself married to my lady for over two years. If I was a man who loved another man as passionately and with the same devotion as I love my lady Catherine, I would still be married. I would be married, whether it is to some hypothetical gay lover or to my Catherine, because I value my lover as highly as I value myself. I would be married, because I would not leave my lover's side unless my lover asked me to, and no power short of death could force me to leave her.

The marriage ceremony changes nothing; it only tells the people around me what my mate and I have known for years: no power on earth, in heaven, or in hell may sunder us.

Defenders of marriage also use children as pawns, claiming that the primary purpose of marriage is to provide an environment in which children can be raised to become productive, rational individuals. They then use children to justify their refusal to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in the eyes of society the way heterosexual couples do. There is no evidence to suggest that a married heterosexual couple will automatically do a better job of raising rational, productive children than a single parent, or a gay/lesbian couple. The odds may be in a heterosexual married couple's favor, but claiming that a heterosexual married couple is magically endowed with the ability to properly raise children discards the context of the abilities and temperaments of the parents.

Is a child better off being raised by a husband and wife who despise each other and stay together only "because of the child", or is she better off being raised by two gay men who share a deep and passionate love for each other? Is a child better off with parents who had children because they felt obligated to do so, or with parents who bore a child in order to earn the achievement of having raised a child to a flourishing adulthood?

If the happiness and well-being of individuals is the value being pursued, one would think that a child is better off with parents who love one another and better off being born to parents who take pride and joy in nurturing her.

Rather than waste time and effort defending marriage, and doing a poor job of it in the bargain by burying what ought to be a celebration of abiding and passionate love in legalism and ritual, those who seek to defend marriage as an institutional vital to the well-being of the human race would do better to champion individual rights and personal responsibility. They would do better to bend their efforts towards the defense of the individual's right to determine what will make him happiest and pursue it with every scrap of strength he can draw from his passion.

Marriage needs no defense, and those who defend it at the expense of individual rights are best refuted, and then ignored. Rather than forbid marriage to some, I would be happier if all who wished to marry could do so, whether they wished to marry a man or a woman, whether they wished to have children or not.
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