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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

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A.I.

I just reread JS's piece. As you point out, his arguments for traditional marriage do not support a strong argument against same-sex marriage as acceptance of the latter does not constitute rejection of the former. In fact, the conclusion best supported by his arguments is that society will suffer because traditional marriage is superior to same-sex marriage and thus the benefits society gains from the former will be diluted by allowing the latter. But that logic too is faulty and worse, is sadly reminiscent of debunked arguments of yore that whites are somehow superior to blacks and thus blacks should be suppressed for the good of society. (The term “of yore” perhaps being a bit premature for some I have met and reminiscent not meaning the same as.)

JS asks: "Why does same-sex marriage not fully demonstrate self-giving?" He goes on to offer reasons why traditional marriage may inherently be more demonstrative of self-giving which he asserts is the primary reason traditional marriage is superior. But like the old white/black superiority canard, even if proven true, the conclusion is pointless. It makes little difference if traditional marriage as a concept is superior. What truly matters is the interaction between individuals in real marriages.

As there are certainly black people with intellects far superior to mine (I happen to be white), there are certain same-sex couples involved in relationships superior to those of certain traditional couples. A union of Ron and Joe might indeed be more self-giving than that of Ron and Jane. Assuming Ron is gay, the relationship with Joe likely would also be more self-fulfilling--which should be noted is not synonymous with "selfish" or "self-serving". In any case, what matters most is the interaction of the partners, which is determined less by the nature of the union (traditional or same-sex) than by the nature of the partners.

If one accepts JS’s notion that encouraging and establishing superior marriages is good for society, then sanctioning Ron and Joe’s union would be good for society. Conversely, denying their right to establish a union would at best be neutral and Ron marrying Jane might very well create a relationship harmful to society.

In fact, state sanctioning creates both good and bad same-sex marriages just as it does good and bad traditional marriages. To determine an overall plus or minus for society, one must determine the prevalence of the good and bad marriages and the degree to which they are one or the other when only tradition marriage is allowed as compared to when same-sex marriage also is allowed. The complications of deriving such data along with the subjective nature of the factors involved would, I think, give even the most gifted statistician a migraine.

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