Friday, September 28, 2012

The same old bad argument against gay marriage | Pharyngula

Riley Balling, patent attorney, is certain that gay marriage will affect his marriage. Why? Well, he splutters on in a long op-ed in the Star Tribune, but all he manages to say is the children, because?the children, that?s why.

For many of us who favor traditional marriage, marriage is about raising children in a healthy environment. Thus, any change to the definition of marriage affects our marriage. Our ?traditional? marriages and the children they produce are our greatest source of happiness, and we desire that our children will live in a world that will promote their ability to make the same choices that brought us happiness.

Shorter Riley: ?I have defined marriage, and marriage is defined this way, and therefore changing the definition of marriage changes marriage by definition. Oh, and my marriage is all about pooping out kids, therefore your marriage damn well better be too.?

You know, my marriage is pretty much the very definition of straight, conventional, and middle class: I married the girl next door when we were in our twenties, we had three children approximately 3.5 years apart, we have a mortgage and live in a nice middle class neighborhood, we sent the kids to public school, they grew up, they moved out and got jobs and lives of their own. If there?s a poster for the standard nuclear family, just like one in a 1950s sitcom, we?re on it.

But our marriage was about us, not the kids. We got married because we loved each other and wanted to make a partnership in all things?and kids weren?t even on our radar in the beginning. We were finishing our educations. Our marriage was about cooperation and sex and shared interests and mutual respect. We also had kids later on, and we were happy about that, but that was never solely what our relationship was about, and we?d still be happy together even without them. We had our last child in 1990; finishing that chore did not lead to the dissolution of our partnership. We now have a completely child-free home, and we?re not at a loss for things to do with our lives.

So I can appreciate that if Riley and his spouse want to marry to build a home for kids, that?s just wonderful, they can do that with no obstacles from me ? I won?t be sponsoring bills to prohibit his reason for getting married. But I hope for the sake of his and his wife?s sanity and happiness that they also have additional reasons to want to live together. They don?t have to have all of our reasons ? if he doesn?t need a mutual support partnership to get through the strains of graduate school, that?s fine ? but I don?t understand why he can?t grasp the idea that people have a huge cloud of reasons to find happiness and productivity in a long-term relationship, and that not everyone will have an identical set of reasons.

There are many who tout the modern definition, and we are susceptible to these influences. As we listen to these influences, we change our view of marriage and our marital relationship accordingly. Same-sex marriage will only increase these influences and make it harder to promote traditional marriage.

Yes! Exactly! Our view of marriage will?evolve!

Mr Riley seems to be a Mormon (and isn?t it sweet that the Mormons continue their tradition of afflicting other states outside of Morridor with their narrow and bigoted views?). I presume he?s not in a polygamous relationship. Or is he trying to argue that we should promote the 19th century traditional Mormon marriage?

Why should we accept the dogmatic views of a member of a freaky-assed Christian cult as an authority on what constitutes ?traditional marriage?? We?re in Minnesota! Clearly, that means we should only listen to lonely Norwegian bachelors of the Lutheran persuasion? or was that a second-generation Hmong medical student? Or a recent immigrant from Somalia? Or maybe we should be really traditional, and consult the Dakota elders on one of the Indian reservations ? they?re the ones who?d have a good handle on exactly what the longest tradition on this bit of earth has been.

Or, just maybe, we should let people living in the now decide what social arrangements give them the greatest satisfaction, happiness, and success.

Although not all are able to participate in a traditional marriage that yields children, we all benefit by its establishment in creating strong homes for the next generation with strong direction from self-sacrificing parents. The disestablishment of this ideal affects us all.

OK. But, you know, ?creating strong homes for the next generation with strong direction from self-sacrificing parents? sounds precisely like what some gay families want to do. Why don?t we let them?

I also don?t think that telling everyone that there is this magical ideal which is the sole purpose for marriage is a good idea. Some people are not suited to, or not interested in, having children. Are we going to tell them that they can?t get married unless they buy into Riley Balling?s narrow definition of what marriage is for, even if they?re boring straight people? Are we going to stop by their house after they?ve been married for a few years and chastise them if the woman hasn?t gotten knocked up yet?

Also, I?ve got to say that if your ideal is the two-person heterosexual lifelong relationship, the greatest enemy of that are the patriarchal religious assholes who turn a partnership into a prison for women?who naturally and intelligently want to escape. If we really want to improve the likelihood of progeny-producing stable relationships, I say we should ban religious marriages, not gay ones. Godless relationships based on romantic love all the way! Yes, the only marriages allowed should be marriages exactly like mine.

I?m sure Riley Balling will be able to sympathize with that sentiment. We have found common ground.

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