General Question

thegodfather's avatar

Does same-sex marriage pose a threat to the fabric of society?

Asked by thegodfather (750points) September 21st, 2008

I just read a fascinating article written by the Mormon Church about why they are actively supporting California’s Proposition 8. While there are certain religious elements in this article that you may or may not agree with, I’m interested in what you think about the legal, political, and social arguments they express, and if you think these are important reasons for why we, as a society, should not redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.

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50 Answers

asmonet's avatar

Why would anyone want to restrict someone else’s happiness? As long as no one is putting restrictions on YOUR happiness with their own, it ain’t no thang. If there’s an ounce more love in the world it doesn’t matter to me if both of the partners can grow a mustache. (for example)

thats true in some hetero couples too come to think of it.

AstroChuck's avatar

No more than opposite sex marriage.

tinyfaery's avatar

I never leave my house without thinking “what can I do to threaten society today?”

I’m a threat to no one, and nothing. I work, pay taxes, recycle, rescue animals… I just happen to kiss another woman when I come home at night.

Marina had a great answer to this in another same-sex marriage thread. I’m on iPhone, can someone else look it up?

Spargett's avatar

If only the fabric of society was held together by something so simple.

AstroChuck's avatar

This might be of interest.

thegodfather's avatar


I guess I’m after the institutionalizing of same-sex marriage and how that would legally affect other institutions, especially religious ones who oppose homosexuality as an acceptable practice, and the government, Boy Scouts, etc. I’m not posing the question in terms of homosexual rights or tolerance for homosexuals as human beings. In fact, I think often, to the discrimination of homosexuals, when the conversation is set in absolutist terms (e.g., “gays are evil,” “everyone who disagrees with homosexuality is a homophobe and a bigot”), any reasonable solutions are never discussed; opposing viewpoints just become points of alienation.

Perhaps, then, I’d like to offer as a rule for this thread that we assume that no one is hating on gays, and no one is hating on religionists, or any particular viewpoint. Everyone agrees that you should be free to kiss whomever you want for whatever reason (I hope; if you don’t troll another thread). Rather, let’s be candid, and look for reasonable answers (e.g., logic-based, rationally composed, not anecdotal, arguments) to the question at hand.

Are social institutions like marriage reasonably threatened by a redefinition of the word “marriage”? Are other freedoms at conflict with gay marriage should Proposition 8 in California not pass? I’d love to get many different, logical, viewpoints and arguments to these questions.

I think the Mormon Church article (link above in the question) is a good place to start only because (religious views written in the article aside) I think it articulates some sound legal arguments against institutionalizing same-sex marriage. Most arguments I’ve heard from “Yes on 8” groups make it sound like somehow same-sex marriage threatens married couples, which I don’t think is all that reasonable. I’m married and don’t see how a married gay couple in any way affects my happiness, so why vote yes? But there are, admittedly, many other factors to consider that are much more important and long-lasting on this issue that I think they’ve articulated well in this particular article. How would a “No on 8”-minded thinker respond to these arguments?

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

I am a lesbian woman and have been with my partner for many years and we have no desire to marry, nor do we think that marriage is something that gay people should seek. Marriage has a definition and we are not about changing definitions. We believe that gay partners should be able to have a ceremony and be recognized as partners for rights and benefits, but please don’t call it marriage. One man. One woman. Marriage. Two men. Two women. Commitment. I may be in the minority of gay and lesbians, but it wouldn’t be the first time. Fer cripes sakes I’m a Republican!

syz's avatar

As an atheist, it’s all claptrap to me. As a matter of fact, my personal opinion is that a great amount of the evil that has been done to and by mankind has been in the name of religion.

More comments on gay rights:

EmpressPixie's avatar

Absolutely not, how could it possibly?

theloveprophet's avatar

Well, when gay rights are so prevalent that they aren’t questioned (and believe me, it will happen) and they all start dying like wildfire from AIDS people may just wake up.

gailcalled's avatar

So, only gays get AIDS? It is endemic among poor women (and not transmitted to them by other women) living in third world countries. Read the horrifying statistics in link below.

deaddolly's avatar

It’s so ignorant to make a statement about AIDS and gay people. Not even worth any further comment.

I believe no one has the right to tell another persson who to love. And those ppl are entitled to the same benefits as hetro couples. Societies change; they evolve. Why any religion thinks it has the right to dictate what anyone does in the name of their god, is disgusting to me.

loser's avatar

What?!! No!

loser's avatar

@loveprophet: You got some issues, dude.

theloveprophet's avatar

Ahahahaha I knew that would cause people to get mad.

No, not only gay people get AIDS, but they are WAY highly likelier to get AIDS because they have to have Anal sex. According to my health textbook, “Anal intercourse provides HIV a highly efficient route of infection because microscopic tears in the rectum give the virus access to the recipient’s blood. Microscopic tears in the penis also allow blood transmission, and blood in semen provides a further avenue of infection” (Edlin 248).

I’m not judging, I’m just saying it’s more likely.

deaddolly's avatar

ahhh…theloveprophet is only 16. I rest my case.

deaddolly's avatar

And hetro ppl do not have anal sex?? lmfao

Welcome to the real world.

thegodfather's avatar

How did this thread degenerate so quickly? Will no one even treat the question at hand? This is not about loving/hating on gays and religions being bigoted toward them, though that certainly is an important topic to discuss (in another thread). This is about intelligently discussing the effect redefining marriage to include same-sex couples could have on society and on freedom of religion in California… AIDS and gays and how they’re more susceptible to it? C’mon people. Let’s kick the discussion up to, say, undergraduate/graduate level, not 7th grade, for goodness’ sake.

Sorry to police the thread a little, but I really do like useful discussions here on Fluther, not pitiful debates of this kind.

theloveprophet's avatar

But I think it’s funny how a statement like that can trigger presuppositions in people’s heads that I automatically think that ONLY gays can get AIDS. That is such a bad thing to judge like that right off the bat.
And me being seventeen doesn’t have anything to do with this.
Geez, are there any conservatives on this site? I might as well just resign my membership if I have to get in skirmishes with liberals all day.

Oh… and There you go again, presupposing that I think heterosexuals don’t have anal sex. You are so trapped inside that box of yours.

thegodfather's avatar


You don’t have to be a liberal to want to have candid discussion about important issues. I, for one, will vote yes on Prop. 8 come November. But I do want a much more complete understanding of how my fellow Americans, and fellow international human beings for that matter, understand the implications of this issue. Getting riled up over conservatives/liberals only leads to mudslinging, which ruins things quickly on sites like these. This is not a slugfest, it’s supposed to be an intelligent discussion. You have some great ideas, I’m sure, but so far you’ve only tried to rile people up. Please, do share your thoughts, but craft them with good reasoning and logic, 17 years old doesn’t matter.

theloveprophet's avatar

I can’t state my ideas because liberals get mad at them. Sorry godfather. And with that, I am leaving this discussion.

sacaver's avatar

I have to side with sueanne. I have absolutely no problem with same-sex unions. I feel that such a “commitment” should have access to the same benefits as a married couple. But you don’t get to call it a marriage. I dig my heels in at this point, and I don’t budge. My wife and I have gay friends, and there have been some wonderfully strong conversations about this. Why get hung up on a word? To be honest, I’ve got nothing better than what sueanne wrote above. One man, one woman equals marriage. Two men/two women not marriage. Whatever other word we want to use is fine by me. But you don’t get that one.

I suppose as a heterosexual male, I don’t understand why the word “marriage” must be redefined to include same-sex couples. I’ve yet to hear a good explanation. Why can’t there be a distinction in the terminology yet still have the benefits. As far as I can understand, if it weren’t for the benefits (taxes, wills, insurance), would there be a discussion? I am open to hearing from the gay/lesbian group. None of our gay friends have been able to come up with a reason. Two of them side with us on using another word.

And loveprophet, it’s a shame that some young, straight couples are using anal sex these days as a means to get around having vaginal intercourse. US News & World Report has an interesting article on the state of sex and young people. Wow. Half of the reported STD cases come from teens.

gailcalled's avatar

None of my good male, gay couple friends have anal intercourse, as I have said on another thread. They have been together on an average of 15 years and do all the other things….

You said ” {gays} are WAY highly likelier to get AIDS because they have to have Anal sex. According to my health textbook.” Don’t believe everything you read. Deal with people. No one “has” to have anything sexually. There are private choices that everyone makes every day.

tinyfaery's avatar

This issue isn’t about laws and propositions, it’s about people. My domestic partnership in CA give me some of the rights of marriage, but not all. For instance, a married couple does not have to include medical insurance in their income, and thus do not have to pay taxes on it, but we do; if I go on vacation to Wyoming (which I hear is beautiful) and something happens to my wife, they can deny me the right to see her. Give me something that isn’t called marriage, but truly gives me all the rights of marriage, then I’m for it. Make a federal law that gives my wife and I the same rights as every other committed couple; you can call it whatever the fuck you want. Or, give me the right to marriage.

Marriage is just a word; it has no inherent meaning.

loser's avatar

@loveprophet: So you like to post inflamatory statements just to piss people off? Mental note made. I’ll be avoiding any of your questions from now on. I’m sure you don’t care, though.

sacaver's avatar

@tinyfaery: again, I agree with you on all your points, but I would differ with you on your last sentence. If marriage was just word, with no inherent meaning, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The word does have meaning, and very deep at that, for a good many people.

asmonet's avatar

@loveprophet: It has nothing to do with what you’ve said but how you say it. You’ll learn as you grow up how to tailor your speech and opinions to be effective and passionate without being aggressive and as one poster said above, intentionally inflammatory. Personally, I think you sound your age. Conservatives and liberals in the real world – not the media, or the internet – get along just fine and don’t feel the need to engage in skirmishes at all.

Generally, they’re educated enough to recognize the futility of those actions.

And for the record, I’m a fucking Independent. :D

tinyfaery's avatar

So majority rules? Polygamy = The definition of marriage for many people. Marriage at one time = owning your wife. Don’t try to tell me the definition of marriage is a fixed, universal; it has changed and adapted throughout history.

sacaver's avatar

@tinyfaery: And this is where it always gets bogged down with discussions we’ve had with friends. I have said that everything is fine with a law legalizing a same-sex union, but I’m not OK with using the word “marriage” with it. Rather than recognizing that I agree with 99% of the argument, that word “marriage” (which allegedly means nothing) is suddenly all important to you, and now we’re debating the meaning of the word.

Regardless of what the implications are with the word marriage, it’s still always been between a man and a woman. That much is constant.

So, again, if the word means nothing to you, why get bent up over it, then? Again, we agree on 99% of this debate. But this is also how every conversation we’ve (our friends) had on this topic has headed. And it’s this part that I don’t understand.

tinyfaery's avatar

Just pointing out that the concept of marriage is not fixed, either culturally or historically.
Don’t assume I’m bent up.

sacaver's avatar

Apologies tiny. As I’ve written above, this topic has led to some heated conversations with friends, and “Don’t tell me…” comes up frequently, followed by some finger pointing to underscore what’s being said.

I think that this (use of “marriage” with same-sex unions) is going to be another great societal debate that doesn’t have one right answer, but it does have strong feelings/beliefs for both points of view.

augustlan's avatar

Doesn’t anyone see the parallels to the “separate but equal” argument used years ago in terms of civil rights? Separate is inherently un-equal.

sacaver's avatar

Nope. Please elaborate.

Separate how?

All the benefits, but you can’t use one word. You have to have another word which will be defined as a civil union between people of the same sex.

So, again, how does this equate to the separate but equal arguments used with civil rights?

augustlan's avatar

@sac: “Regardless of what the implications are with the word marriage, it’s still always been between a man and a woman. That much is constant.” (emphasis mine) Not true. As tiny pointed out, what about polygamist marriages? You are concerned that advocates of same-sex marriage are hung up on one word, but don’t you see that you are as well? As to my civil rights reference…calling it by another name would seem to imply that all those in “marriages” view their union as better, or more “pure”. By saying they can’t “have” the word marriage, you are implying that their use of the word is detrimental to the word or it’s purpose.

Perhaps a better way to handle this whole thing is to completely sever religious unions from civil/legal unions. That is, anyone who wants the legal benefits of marriage (gay or straight) would have to file forms/pay a fee, regardless of whether or not they have a traditional religious ceremony.

At all: Did anyone actually read the article that Godfather linked? I did, and wholly disagree its basic premise. You cannot ignore the religious aspects and still find value in the remainder of the article. Some of the points it makes are ludicrous.

artificialard's avatar

What is the situation in the US right now? Do civil unions for homosexual couples construe identical rights to that of a married heterosexual couple?

augustlan's avatar

@arti: It varies from state to state. Most states do not even have civil unions, nor recognize civil unions from another state as legal. In a nutshell it’s a mess.

Noon's avatar

@sacaver—I’m sorry, the whole (they can have all the benefits just not call it marriage) argument is just plain ridiculous. If it makes you sleep better at night telling yourself you see your gay friends as equal fine, but do realize that as long as you say we can’t call it marriage, you are unquestionably saying “I have the right to something that you don’t have the rights to. I have something you can’t have” (neener neener neener) . There is no way to explain that away. And are you really comfortable with all the “This is your drinking fountain” overtones that has?

@thegodfather—- I read the article and am having a hard time picking out the valid “issues” that same sex marriage will cause society. I mean, yes the article states plenty, but they are all filled with religious opinion which has no place in a secular government which fortunately (possible unfortunate for some) we live in. I did find it very interesting that the whole article has citations all over the place, 5 of which are from the bible (again no place for the bible in government). But in the section of the article labeled “How Would Same-Sex Marriage Affect Society?” there is not ONE citation. So apparently they have found plenty of sources to state their opinion, but when it comes down to actually providing facts about the consequences of gay marriage they can’t find one source. Keep in mind that several European countries have had legal same sex marriage for several years now, and they have plenty of studies that have shown no significant effect of legalizing gay marriage.

thegodfather's avatar

@Noon, others

Thanks for your posts; it’s nice to get some useful feedback and thoughts.

I think the main point of the document is to state their opinion clearly for their adherents. Mormons have a fundamental belief in the authority of the church, not much unlike Catholics’ reverence for the Pope, so the statement itself is enough for many Mormons. So I think you’re right, the source list is short. But I’m not sure that they’re after putting forth a research paper; they’re putting some arguments out there and basically sticking to reason and scriptural authority to back them up. I’ve been interested in the arguments themselves, not necessarily any studies.

For instance, here we can discuss various viewpoints and then back them up with sound reasoning. Personally, I think some of the discussion has been good, some has been fallacious.

Anyhow, here’s a paragraph from the document that I think makes an important argument:

“Marriage is not primarily a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations. Rather, marriage and family are vital instruments for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults. While governments did not invent marriage, throughout the ages governments of all types have recognized and affirmed marriage as an essential institution in preserving social stability and perpetuating life itself. Hence, regardless of whether marriages were performed as a religious rite or a civil ceremony, married couples in almost every culture have been granted special benefits aimed primarily at sustaining their relationship and promoting the environment in which children are reared. A husband and a wife do not receive these benefits to elevate them above any other two people who may share a residence or social tie, but rather in order to preserve, protect, and defend the all-important institutions of marriage and family.”

Now, if this is true of the concept of “marriage,” then it makes some pretty important statements about providing legal benefits to married couples. “Aimed primarily at sustaining their relationship,” “promoting the environment in which children are reared”—this appears self-evident to me, but I could be wrong. The debate over redefining marriage, for me at least, seems to come back to this fact, that marriage, through evolution of the human species or by God’s creation however you want to analyze it, developed as an institution primarily because it was necessary for the survival of the species. There are exceptions to this, which is discussed in the document, but as a rule, this appears to be fairly consistent over time and generally among all cultures. The biggest clash of same-sex marriage, legally, appears to be with religions, and since I’m a student of religious studies, it very much interests me to see how both sides react to these important political moments. Redefine marriage in the law books, and then you have the possibility that church/state aren’t all that separate anymore with regard to performing marriages, etc. (NPR has a small list of recent legal actions taken by homosexuals against individuals/institutions over their religious beliefs and homosexuality that demonstrates some of these clashes.)

Redefining this term, “marriage,” would require significant legal changes wherever this word has been used in the law in the past. Your point about the EU not having had differences in their society before/after redefining marriage ought to have some source links, only because I’ve read to the contrary in my undergraduate studies (European Studies major); it would be helpful to see some research on continuity in EU society.

Long, I apologize. Let me know what you think :)

Noon's avatar

@thegodfather—Look at this, found an American one to boot. American Academy of Pediatrics

And another from the slate using Scandinavian statistics. here

And I disagree with the first opinion you brought up. Marriage is a contract between two individuals. In someones church it may be much more than a contract, but looking at it from the perspective of government it is nothing more than a contract. The government does not require that you bear children, it does not require that you raise your children in a specific church. If you are trying to change the meaning of marriage (yes you changing) to mean a opposite gendered couple that will bear and raise children, you would in turn have to dissolve marriages of barren couples (because they should have no right to a marriage they are incapable of carrying out). Also not allow marriages between a man and a woman who have no intention of producing children.

And considering there are now many same sex partners raising kids (this is a fact, not something you can continue to avoid) All of your arguments about marriage providing benefits to foster the rearing of children only support gay marriage that much more.

tonedef's avatar

I don’t really see how expanding the definition to “legal union between two consenting adults” would affect other legal institutions. Maybe I’m just short sighted. After arguing so much about same-sex marriage, I’ve come to consider people talking about how much work we’ll have to do to adjust to a redefinition of marriage to just be a thinly-veiled attempt at appearing concerned about practical issues instead of scared and hateful of gay people. I’m really not trying to flame, here. I really think that the issue of “societal readjustment” is a red herring. What will we have to change, honestly?

The biggest practical repercussion would be tax issues, but even there, the disparity is negligible. As for other institutions being harmed or somehow affected, the burden of proof is on the persecution.

marissa's avatar

Noon makes great points in regards to the sources the article sites, so I won’t repeat that. However, I would like to point out that the article is using an arguement of future concerns, that isn’t an issue at this point.
Possible restrictions on religious freedom are not the only societal implications”
They aren’t even able to make the arguement that same-sex marriage will cause restrictions on religious freedom, just that it might and that is only if religious institutions are forced to perform same-sex marriage. I don’t think that any religious institution should be forced to perform same-sex marriage. Just as the Catholic church refused to perform marriages between a Catholic and nonCatholic. I also don’t think religious arguements should be used against the government allowing safe-sex marriages (as Noon stated).

Their other arguement is that marriage is intended for procreation and raising children. That is their religious interpretation of marriage’s purpose, not the government’s. It also bothers me that they are basing that arguement off of misinformation:
“what environment is best for the child and for the rising generation? Traditional marriage provides a solid and well-established social identity to children. It increases the likelihood that they will be able to form a clear gender identity, with sexuality closely linked to both love and procreation”
To the best of my knowledge (and please tell me if I’m wrong), unbiased studies of children in a same-sex household have not had anymore problems or gender identity issues than children in a ‘traditional marriage’ household.
I actually think that allowing same-sex marriages can help strengthen the fabric of society. This arguement that same-sex marriage is wrong, based on religious arguements reminds me of prohibition. Some religions viewed alcohol consumption as wrong, so they tried to take their religious views and turn it in to governmental policy.

tonedef's avatar

@marissa: exactly! slippery slopery. if seeing two gay people holding hands makes you uncomfortable, just say that.

Critter38's avatar

I think the arguments against gay marriage are spurious, including those supposedly based on the complexity of resolving institutional issues. The law is malleable and to argue that a change to a definition would cause untold issues, seems to be yet another desperate attempt to make what is fundamentally an issue of prejudice have some semblance of respectability. I have little doubt that similar arguments were made in the late 1960s….

Once upon a time marriage was not allowed between blacks and whites. It took till 1967 for the U.S. supreme court to overrule laws against so called “miscegenation” marriages. Believe it or not but 16 states still had these laws, and some states were fighting like mad to keep them at that time, and most U.S. states still had laws like these up until the 1950s. If we have the willpower we can change the laws, unless of course human rights to equality are secondary to the institutions that supposedly should be enforcing those rights. Seems like the carts pulling the horse to argue this case.

I just looked up the dictionary definition of marriage, and contrary to some perceptions, there are many many definitions of marriage, some of which mention the sex of the couple and some that do not. Frankly the word is used for mergers between companies, so you don’t even have to have a sex. The definition is up to us.

In regards to the Mormon perspective; I think that any religion that took till the late seventies before it could be presuaded that there was something fundamentally immoral in preventing black people from obtaining the priesthood, should be at least a little reflective before giving advice on moral values or the word tolerance.

If we argue that the meaning of the word marriage is important to the social fabric of society, then all the more reason to make it an inclusive word rather than a divisive word based on past prejudice against homosexuals. If we argue that the word doesn’t matter, then why not change its meaning.

goodasyou's avatar

Denying marriage equality poses a threat to society

MissAnthrope's avatar

tinyfaery has a point. “Marriage” has had varying connotations, depending on where in history you look. To say the idea of marriage has stayed intact for perpetuity is false. Because of this, I find it ridiculous to say that “marriage” means one man, one woman. “Marriage” is the union of two people in a lifetime committed relationship.

What’s interesting is that I Googled the definition of “marriage” and the majority (75% or more) of results did NOT have the specification of gender requirement.

Now, I’ll take a civil union, because it’s at least a step in the right direction. But excluding people from getting married is wrong and discriminatory. You would likely be outraged if a non-caucasian or mixed race hetero couple were denied their wish to marry. It is very much “separate but equal” because I can no more change being gay than I could change being Asian, black, or hispanic.

casagrande's avatar

The real battle against banning homosexual marriages is not in imposing our moral standards on them, but instead it lies in the fact that people supporting same-sex marriage believe that the gay rights movement is a civil right movement, and they don’t understand or accept that homosexuality ia a behaviour

augustlan's avatar

@casagrande If homosexuality is a behavior, then so is heterosexuality.

madmax's avatar

I just came across this and it is crap. If you are a man and love men then there is something wrong with you. Same if you are a woman. I don’t care how any pro same sex people put it. You have something screwed up in your brain, not being mean, but it is just plain weird. Opposite sexes are suppose to have sex and reproduce, that’s the reason for the different sexes. Its totally against nature. It’s an abomination. Totally against the design of human beings or any other creature that has an opposite sex used to procreate. I’m sorry but if there is a GOD then you are wrong, if there isn’t a GOD you are still wrong either way. But you know what it must be a genetic disorder or something. When you have 3 billion people some of them just aren’t going to be right in the head.

That being said, go ahead and live a happy life as a homosexual or lesbian. But don’t push your beliefs on me or my kids or how you think it should be accepted as natural because it isn’t.

MissAnthrope's avatar

@madmax – You may want to go back to Biology class and think again, friend. First of all, there are over 6 billion people in the world, not 3. Secondly, homosexuality exists in pretty much every animal species on the planet, to varying degrees. So, the “it’s unnatural and an abomination” argument is incredibly outdated and incorrect.

Your closed-mindedness and your irrational fear of homosexuals, you will have to work on by yourself.

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