The Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage, Part IV (Final)

Part III

Question 5

I have heard you say that homosexuals do not choose their “orientation” and that everybody has a right to be happy and thus has the right to marry. That accurate? My dear, nobody has a right to be happy; our government was founded on the idea that our true right (not given by but recognized by government) is the pursuit of happiness. Whether you achieve nirvana is your business, not the government’s. My advice is that before reading further, you fetch a calming drink, for we are about to enter treacherous territory. Experience shows that people are none too pleased to do so, and are apt to strike out to relieve the resultant mental pressure.

It is true that some people might not choose to whom they are attracted, but it is equally true that some people do choose. Nothing could more obvious than this, even to supporters of SSM. How do we tell the two groups apart? Well, there is no known objective error-free way: a “gay gene” has not been discovered, nor a “bisexual gene”, nor a “cross-dressing gene.” Yet even if nobody had any choice in the matter of attraction, everybody always has a choice what to do about it. A person, for example, who claims to be “oriented” as a pedophile can choose not to pursue children, and is wise not to do so. It also does not follow—it is an invalid logical argument—that because a person has no choice in attraction that he therefore can marry the object of his attraction. The point at question is whether same-sexed people can marry each other, not whether they are “oriented” to have this or that attraction. Remind yourself: many men who have claimed to be gay have married women, and vice versa.

I see your blood rising. Are you saying gays are the same as pedophiles!? No, and only a simpleton would (and will) make that claim. What’s this about pedophilia being an “orientation”? Well, isn’t it? Many academics now make that claim (yes). How do we ascertain if desiring sexual intercourse with children is purely a choice? How could we ascertain whether any person’s sexual preferences are purely a choice, or are built-in, biologically speaking? Not too easy, maybe impossible, as the search for “orientation” genes shows. What we do have are people saying they are attracted to children, that they can’t help themselves, that they are just “that way.” Do they therefore have the right to marry infants? Surely not. Yet you must claim they do have this right if you claim the right that homosexuals should marry those to whom they are sexually attracted. If you say homosexuals are somehow different, you must then say why, but you haven’t, by your own admission, anything more to offer why they are different save their self-acknowledged attraction. What of bisexuals? They claim orientation toward both sexes. Therefore, assuming fairness and equality, a bisexual must be allowed marry both a man and a woman simultaneously. Would the spare man and woman married to the bisexual also be married to each other?

Enter the acronym LGBTQA. That’s as it is of this writing. Hardly a year goes by when more letters aren’t added. What a strange society that tracks its citizens by whom (or what) they want to have sex with! I’ve lately seen “P” proposed, for polygamy, by polygamists who claim to be “oriented” that way (yes). How about when in Germany “B” for beastiality (which is currently legal). Wither the necrophiliac lobby? There has been more than one case of persons who claim to be “oriented” towards beasts and wish to marry their dogs or horses (yes). Have these folks therefore the right to marry Sparky? Surely not.

But forget all that. Let’s accept for argument’s sake everybody in the LGBTQAPBN list is just as they say they are: bound by genetics to suffer their attractions. People just are born to want to have sex with goats, or with small children, or with upholstered furniture (yes). That can’t help themselves; there is no “cure” because it is all “natural.” Well, what of it? All that we can say is that, unless these folks are willing to suppress their (non-adult-heterosexual) “orientation”, they cannot find happiness through marriage. That’s just tough luck.

Having an “orientation” different than heterosexual is a deficit when considered evolutionary (non-heterosexuals acting non-heterosexually will not transmit their genes efficiently or at all, a scientific statement). Some people are born or made blind, others are born or made deaf, and still more are born lame or lose limbs later in life. This is all sad stuff, but that does not imply that because some are blind “seeing” can be redefined—by fiat by some government—as something the blind can do too; that because some are deaf “hearing” can be re-classified as a deaf person’s activity; that because some are lame “physically able” can be legislated as applying to everybody. Because, we are assuming, some are born “questioning” or “oriented towards both sexes” or even to others of the same sex, that does not imply that “marriage” can be made into what it isn’t. Do you remember when your mother said life wasn’t fair? If there’s one thing that marks this generation, it is the belief that it can be made fair, that the impossible can happen, that all we need are new laws, more government control.

Not everybody can find happiness. Not everybody can have what they want when they want it because they want it. Not everybody can be married. Sad, yes. But that’s the way the world works.

Update The Mark Regnerus case is apropos here.


Warning Tolerance is a hallmark of those supporting same-sex marriage. Never will you find proponents employing abuse, vituperation, appeals to emotion, or angry senseless shouting. They do not label their opponents enemies, nor accuse them of being hate-filled. They instead use calm, logical, well-reasoned argument; they understand rational and sincere people may disagree on certain points. I therefore expect supporters of traditional marriage to act similarly. Comments which do not accord with ladylike or gentlemanly behavior will be ruthlessly expurgated.


  1. Luis

    I love the argument here. “No you won’t get what you want, because life isn’t fair and thus you shouldn’t even try to change it to be more fair and pleasant! No, life is Darwinian hell and BE CONTENT WITH IT. Too bad your tastes differ from mine, I am just like the majority and you are not, so the hell with you lot.”

    WRT the first argument, no I wasn’t offended at all with the connections you made. The logical point is sound. I also do not think “gay marriage” follows from “gay people are attracted to each other so”.

  2. Briggs


    “No you won’t get what you want, because life isn’t fair and thus you shouldn’t even try to change it to be more fair and pleasant!” Interesting point (by implication). But the solution to blindness, say, isn’t to define sight as something other than being able to see but to correct (if possible) the blindness and restore true sight. How nice it would be if this it were always possible (truly).

  3. Ken

    What a messy blur of invalid comparisons & analogies, for example:

    “What we do have are people saying they are attracted to children, that they can’t help themselves, that they are just “that way.” Do they therefore have the right to marry infants? Surely not. Yet you must claim they do have this right if you claim the right that homosexuals should marry those to whom they are sexually attracted.”

    There is no rational logic that can compare & contrast legal adults joining in a consensual living arrangement–with contractual obligations that can be enforced in court….versus….giving a legal child to be abused by a legal adult. The core principles are so overwhelming that the comparision presented is simply irrational.

    The blindingly obvious fact is that the state/government can define marriage how it chooses, and, marriage is & remains at its core a contractual arrangement — if the state/government continues with multi-millenium traditions. If that were untrue, there’d be no need for this series of essays to try to concoct reasons for not doing that.

  4. Briggs


    Your entry about contracts is a fallacy because it asserts which it seeks to prove, namely that marriages are contracts. It also fails even assuming it were true, considering that many contracts govern the behavior and future of minors.

    It is “blindingly obvious” that the State can define, by force, “marriage” any way they way, just as they could, by fiat, redefine the value of π. The State’s action does not, of course, change truth.

  5. I applaude you bringing in all the various sexual orientations. I have been pummeled on Facebook for saying there is no evidence that only specific sexual orientations are “genetic” or “not chosen” if we make such a claim and that applauding said “no choice” argument with homosexuals means you are actually arguing that pedophiles have no choice. Germany and England have both explored this.
    As for acting on those impulses, the tired argument of “adults” only are involved in gay marriages, obviously that is not the case if we allow adoption by gays. Yes, the “parents” are the only ones involved in the sex, but the children are clearly part of the arrangement and are affected by it.
    As for pedophiles damaging children, we hand out condoms to 10 year olds. We have redefined sex to a meaningless act in many cases. We now teach children homosexuality is okay–why not sex with adults? Or animals? In colonial days, 14 year olds married, often much older men. Ethics on practice are what we tell children they are.
    Once you open the door to sex and marriage outside of man/woman, you effectively open the door to any sex and marriage to any number, any combination of participants.

  6. Colin

    You’ve invoked biology a few times in this series and I’m not convinced you have any solid knowledge basis to be doing so.

    “non-heterosexuals acting non-heterosexually will not transmit their genes efficiently or at all, a scientific statement”

    This is an unsupported claim and demonstrates such a naive understanding of evolution. The mere fact that homosexuality exists and exists extensively in many species (bonobos for example) is sufficient evidence in itself to show your above statement to be, at best, questionable and, at worse, complete nonsense. Homosexual acts in these species have social implications that can improve their social standing and increase their chances of passing on their genes: a direct contradiction of what you assert. There is also the kin selection theory for homosexuality that directly contradicts your belief that the only way an individual can pass on their genes is by procreating (this actually applies to heterosexuals as well).

    I have no desire to argue the scientific merit to these observational and biological bases of homosexuality and I invoke them merely to show your “deficit when considered evolutionary” is entirely & wholly unsupported by you. Fortunately for me (I am not an evolutionary biologist), it is not my job to make your statements scientifically sound but the people who want/have the job of explaining homosexuality from an evolutionary perspective have theories that contradict your “scientific statement” (your inclusion of those two words puzzles me as if to squelch any discussion about what you say because, hey, it’s science).

    Admittedly, I’ve enjoyed your rational approach to this topic but I remain unconvinced by your argument. Ending it with “Sad, yes. But that’s the way the world works.” was a bit of a disappointing conclusion because you’ve essentially nulled your rational argument by shrugging your shoulders and saying to just accept your argument because happiness is in finite supply and, well, tough noogies.

  7. Matt

    Sheri & Briggs,

    When you discuss pedophilia you need to be clear whether you are using the legal definition or the medical definition. The medical definition is specifically a sexual attraction to prepubescent children and would not apply to an adult attracted to children in the early stages of puberty (14 year old). There is a separate medical term for that.

    If you are going to include it in a discussion centered around biology and evolution you should be using the medical definition.

  8. Eric

    Dr. Briggs:

    Thus far, you have failed to defend your proposition that monogamous homosexual marriage (same-sex marriage) should not be accommodated.

    Your error is the reification of one particular historical exercise of a right (monogamous heterosexual marriage), with the natural right itself (marriage).

    You acknowledge that all persons have a natural right to marriage, and that because homosexuals are persons, they have this right.

    You acknowledge that each society through various means available to it (the State, religion, folkways) decides the proper exercise of rights within the jurisdiction of that society. You have circled around the fact that bounding the exercise of a right is a matter of public policy.

    You also acknowledge that monogamous and polygamous marriage are two examples of the exercise of the natural right marriage, and that various societies over time have each correctly allowed the exercise of monogamy or polygamy. In the United States, we have defined and redefined how we accommodate the exercise of marriage rights with respect to age, race, monogamy/polygamy, familial relation, and inherited disease.

    You seem to have a difficult time understanding that because the United States has traditionally disallowed the exercise of polygamy or homosexual monogamy, we could legitimately accommodate either at any time in the future.

    As a matter of public policy, society has an interest in who is responsible for welfare rights its children, and the property rights of these children. Society (via the State) licenses marriage in order to identify the parents of each child.

    Society has a compelling interest in homosexual marriage, because homosexual couples can biologically reproduce via new medical procedures such as spindle transfer (available to either heterosexual couples or female homosexual couples), and any procedure that results in a human tetragametic chimera (for heterosexual couples, male homosexual couples, or female homosexual couples). Children that result from these procedures require the same familial protections as any child.

    In order for society to have a compelling interest in a couple’s marriage, the couple need not actually reproduce, but merely can be legally presumed to be able to reproduce. Legally, a marriage between infertile octogenarians is as legitimate as that of any other couple, including homosexuals.

    In the United States, we value the maximum accommodation of the exercise of our rights. Our tradition is to tolerate conflicts in public spaces, and encourage private spaces (e.g., religious institutions, private clubs, and personal real property) for relief from such conflict.

    You have not demonstrated where any of your rights are infringed without relief. Nonetheless, society does require that you do not infringe on the legitimate exercise of other people’s natural right to marriage.


  9. Briggs


    No, sir, I do not acknowledge that all persons have a right to marriage. Kids don’t. Infants don’t. And the right may be removed for egregious crimes. Therefore, since I do not make the claim that all persons have this right, the rest of your point fails.

    I acknowledge that the State, by force, can do almost anything, including forcing citizens to call black white. But I never acknowledge that the State can change truth. Marriage by natural law—the scientific answer—is between man-woman.

    I see that you yourself acknowledge male homosexuals do not have a right to marry, via natural law. And then your “spindle transfer” argument begs the question whether this procedure is itself moral.

    I do not seek to have the State bar people from “cohabitating.” Let them right what contracts they will. Why is that you seek to have the State redefine marriage? Why does possessing the label matrimony mean so much to you? Why do you hunger for the trappings of traditional and natural law? What is the word itself going to do for you?


    True: many other animals besides man suffer afflictions, such as for example, blindness. This does not make blindness therefore desirable. Curious that you would pick one behavior of another species as worthy of emulation but eschew all its others. Why should we not, for example, lives as wasps?


    I mean the medical definition, which is why I say attraction to infants.

  10. Luis

    So now gaydom is like blindness. Ahaha. Man, you are so out of your league.

  11. bernie

    You make the point to Eric: “What is the word itself going to do for you? ” My sense is that it reflects a demand for acceptance not just tolerance.

  12. Colin

    Where is the behavioral choice of being blind? You cannot choose to see if you are blind, so how is it even a remotely valid comparison to something you have clearly claimed is a behavioral choice? Comparing homosexuality to blindness is nonsense in the context you have laid out so I am not sure why you keep making the comparison.

    As for living like wasps: you are [intentionally?] confusing yourself. I’ve said nothing of the sort for living like bonobos or rhesus monkeys or lions or macaques or any other animal that has demonstrating homosexual behavior. I’ve also said nothing about females eating males after mating, but that doesn’t mean I support humans imitating this behavior too.

    You are trying to use evolution to claim an evolutionary disadvantage without giving any valid support to this hypothesis and there already exists work that contradicts your claim. Don’t pin your failure on me like you’ve tried twice already (blindness & wasps).

  13. Briggs


    It is indeed, at least with respect to objective states of procreation and the raising of families.


    Your sense spot on.

  14. Briggs


    Your comment is tangled. What exactly are you claiming? It can’t be that because non-human animals engage in a behavior than humans should—not can, should—too.

    Blindness can surely be a choice. Deafness too. I’m reminded of the deaf parents who wanted their children deaf (more than one case).

    Now be specific. Are you claiming all gays do not choose their behaviors? Well, if non-heterosexuality is not a choice, and a biological outcome, then analogies with blindness, deafness, lameness apt (see comment to Luis). If it is a choice, well then we conclude the obvious. Which are you claiming?

  15. cmp

    Though we have a right to pursuit happiness there is no guarantee of happiness by the govt., right? And whether you achieve Nirvana is not the govts. issue, correct? I would suggest that the water is half empty half full in this argument. Meaning that if the cannot be responsible for your happiness nor shall they infringe your happiness because it’s a constitutional right. Thus, men can marry men and women can marry women with out the hindrance of the govt. or for the sake of your “argument” be responsible for their happiness.

  16. cmp

    Paraphrasing “If any of you homosexuals touch my stuff I will cut you”… “Lighten up Francis”… Stripes – Times have changed my friend and I don’t know if it is for the good. Life is taken too seriously and the cause of friction is the friction itself… “Me”.

  17. Ray

    “by fiat, redefine the value of Ï€.”
    If I recall correctly a state did just that and defined pi as 3.0 because the true number was to difficult for the school students to remember.

  18. Colin

    “What exactly are you claiming?”

    Essentially that your evolutionary claim is invalid due to a lack of evidence. Talk is cheap in science and evidence is the real currency, and you lack the latter. That’s my claim.

    “Blindness can surely be a choice. Deafness too.”

    The blind will never see and the deaf will never hear — there are a few exceptions but not worth including — and those with sight/hearing can — only once, mind you — become blind/deaf. You want an black-and-white binary decision between choice/not-choice on homosexuality but you choose medical conditions that are both: the congenitally blind will NEVER see & never chose to be blind, but the seeing can choose to become blind (only once).

    I can vaguely see how you might be arguing the reproductive fitness of blindness & deafness, but again I fail to see you using any evidence to a scientific claim. I know & have met plenty of blind & deaf people who have their own biological children, which you’ve admitted (and is one of your key points) is something lacking in homosexual relationships. Rationalize what “marriage” is or whatever you wish, but if you’re going to start making actual scientific claims then you need to back them up. Unless this is a high school argument that you are making, but I really doubt you’re aiming for that.

    [Yes, I continue to avoid making any claims on the behavior of homosexuality because it doesn’t suit my purpose in replying here: your failed scientific/evolution claim(s). Your argument is not convincing to me and I don’t feel the need to argue why so I refuse to answer you in that aspect. Sorry.]

  19. Eric

    Dr. Briggs:

    Again, you conflate a “right” itself with the “exercise of a right”.

    Infants and children are persons have the same natural rights as any persons. How a society allows rights to be exercised is up to that society (in the case of exercise of marriage rights of children, see arranged marriages and parental consent).

    According to your justification based on “natural law” (presumably based on actual fertility), neither kids nor infertile octogenarians would have the natural right to marriage. Our society permits children to marry with parental consent, and octogenarians to marry without.

    Tetragametic chimerism occurs naturally in humans. In the case of homosexual male reproduction, each male fertilizes a separate egg (two sperm and two eggs being the four gametes). If the resulting two fertilized eggs proceed separately in development, then fraternal twins result. If the resulting two fertilized eggs fuse into a chimera, then a single person results.

    You do acknowledge that homosexual females can reproduce via spindle transfer, and therefore even by your “natural law” argument, can be married.

    Moral employment of a technology is independent of the simple fact that a technology exists. For spindle transfer, the bell has rung.

    How spindle transfer is used does obviate the fact that women can now biologically reproduce with each other.


  20. Eric

    Correction: “doesn’t obviate”.

  21. JH

    (I’d like to first admit that I haven’t read all comments so I apologize if I repeat what someone else had posted already.)

    Regarding the Regnerus Study:
    Mr. Briggs, I am sure you are fairly capable of coming up with reasons as to why this study is full of crap!

    I don’t see how sexual arousal can be a choice. If it is, then Viagra probably wouldn’t be needed.

    What’s natural? It’s natural for same-sex couples to pursue that happiness that’d be brought on by the right to “same-sex marriage.” It’s also natural for same-sex couple to want to be treated equally in every way.

    “What we do have are people saying they are attracted to children, that they can’t help themselves, that they are just “that way.” Do they therefore have the right to marry infants?

    Yes, one can definitely use ‘attraction” and “can’t help themselves” as supporting arguments for such right. I don’t know they’d allow one to conclude such right should be granted. I don’t see the attraction to prepubescent and the one to adult are the same thing, do you? There are also obvious differences between prepubescent and adult in mentality. There are reasons why 18 is the minimum voting age and why we have the term minor.

  22. Matt: I am using the legal definition. I guess since we are talking about the contract of marriage and whether or not other sexual orientations should be included, the legal definition fit.

  23. JH

    The argument I like the best so far is “I BELIEVE that marriage is between a man and a woman.” Period. Make no pretense to being righteous or rational or religious. I respect that!

  24. JH–Sexual arousal may not be a choice, but acting on it is.

  25. Colin

    JH: “I don’t see how sexual arousal can be a choice. If it is, then Viagra probably wouldn’t be needed.”

    It is both. There are two pathways that lead to sexual arousal and one is completely reflexive & the other is conscious. Both neural pathways converge onto PDE5 — the target of viagra — that physically mediates erections.

  26. JH


    “To know that you do not know is the best. To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease.”

    An amazing saying of Lao-Tze articulated utilizing only four Chinese characters! To finish the quote, what follows is that

    A wise man recognizes such disease in him and is mindful of it, therefore can avoid such disease.

    (My perfect translation.) Modern day interpretation: believing that your worldviews to be objectively correct is a disease.

  27. JH

    (Ooops, wrong post for my previous comment.)

    Sheri, yes, acting on it is a choice, and “acting on it” is not “sexual attraction.”

  28. bernie

    I envy you your facility with languages.
    However, I suspect that even wise men can catch this disease even when they are trying to avoid it.

  29. MattS


    Going back to your first post.

    Most states allow older minors (16+) to marry with parental permission and there are several states that will allow teens as young as 14 to marry though approval must be obtained from a juvenile court judge. So in fact it is STILL legal in a number of US states for 14 year olds to marry under limited circumstances.

  30. Texas Aggie

    I have thought and prayed about this for a long time. I have read all of these articles, and many of the comments. I then thought and prayed some more. I feel as though the author of these articles needs to hear a gay Christian prospective.
    Not being a heterosexual, I cannot claim to think like a heterosexual. I don’t believe all of our thinking is different, but I do believe there is a vast difference, at least in as much as the difference between two people’s thinking can be.
    I do not believe two people wanting to get married is based solely upon to whom they are sexually attracted. I believe you need to be sexually attracted to that person, but from my understanding of “marriage” there is a lot more to it than just sex. I hope there is.
    The pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in our constitution. From personal experience, anyone who gets married to find happiness is mistaken. Happiness comes from within. Others can enhance your happiness, but it is up to an individual to be happy. Getting married to someone of either sex is not going to make you happy.
    I believe the author of these articles likes to vacillate between a religious and a legal definition of marriage. These are not one in the same. The arguments I have read in these articles have intertwined the two whenever it is advantageous to the author’s point.
    I cannot, nor do I want to speak for the majority of people who are looking forward to being able to legally marry the person that they love. I myself want to marry ONE man because we have bonds of love that I only share with him. The question for me is not, “If you can do it, why can’t I?” but rather, “If you can do it, why shouldn’t I?” I don’t like to play the semantics game, but it appears many people who are commenting here are doing just that. If the argument is that opening up marriage to same sex couples will open it up to everyone, why doesn’t opposite sex marriage open up marriage to everyone?
    All that being said, I would like to ask the passé question, what would Jesus do? I am not pretending that as a mere mortal and sinner I know, or could tell anyone what He would do. In the bible He made His feelings known. He did not judge. He loved and prayed for everyone, as I will do for you.

  31. In the view of marriage that treats it as an entirely secular institution, it is a contract: at this time, between two persons of the opposite sex. It would pay large dividends for persons concerned with this discussion to debate:
    — What are the obligations incumbent upon the contracting parties?
    — Why are they so obligated?
    — Who enforces the contract, and how, and why that agency rather than some other?

    Marriage originated as a social institution:
    — The obligations were mutual sexual fidelity, mutual sexual access, and the material support and protection by the husband of the wife and her minor children.
    — They were deemed so obligated because heterosex often leads to pregnancy, child-bearing, and child-rearing, and because fertile women and minor children are quite vulnerable.
    — The enforcement agency was proximate society: one’s relatives, friends, and neighbors.

    When marriage became a religious institution, none of that changed. Divine sanction was added to the contract, and a sense of three-cornered obligation — the spouses to one another and to God — was imposed upon it.

    Today, the dominant view of marriage appears to have become secular but asocial. Of the old obligations, the one that remains, and is enforced by a court, is material support and protection by the husband of the wife and their children. (Human biology hasn’t changed much.) But as regards mutual sexual fidelity and sexual access, enforcement is rare if not nonexistent. You can divorce an adulterous spouse, but if the sinner is the wife, it will make no difference whatsoever to the court’s award of alimony, child support, marital property, or visitation rights. More, it is commonplace for one spouse to deny the other sex for arbitrarily long periods, including (in rare cases) the entire length of the marriage — yet under current jurisprudence, this does not entitle the aggrieved spouse to anything, except an annulment.

    So, in a hypothetically government-sanctioned same-sex marriage, what obligations would lie upon the spouses, and why, and who would enforce them, and how? Once the answers to those questions are agreed upon, the ultimate question arises: What relationship would such a contract bear to marriage as the world has understood it throughout recorded history?

  32. The one that cracks me up is when pro-SSM people say, “Everyone should have the right to marry whom they want.”

    Well, I’m not homosexual and I didn’t have that right. I distinctly remember wanting at age 20 to marry Miss September. Didn’t happen. And now, here it is 37 years later and I am just now finding out I was supposed to have the right to marry her.

    Anyway, I invite you to see my essay, “What makes marriage, marriage?” which discusses why the pro-SSM arguments are incoherent in the way they talk about what marriage is.

  33. bernie

    Interesting and I was more or less nodding my head until you wrote, “Today, the dominant view of marriage appears to have become secular but asocial.” I am not sure and recent votes in States on whether to allow same sex marriage surely point to if not a traditional religious view then a mixed/muddled/complex view of marriage. I think Michael McConnell’s piece in today’s WSJ deserves more careful consideration. .

  34. MattS

    Donald Sensing,

    I am a libertarian and while I have little interest in SSM as such, I would prefer to get the government out of the marriage business.

    from your essay: “Marriage has always, in all times, cultures and place, been the union of a man and a woman. There is no reason to doubt that homosexuals have also lived in all those cultures, but there is no evidence that their relationships have ever determined the nature of marriage.”

    This is untrue. Polygamy was accepted in most cultures in ancient history and there are still places in the world where polygamy is legal.

    The problem with your argument is your conception of monogamous marriage is not and never has been a universal.

  35. VXXC

    Being Polite – FBI warning.

    If you’re wondering what went wrong in America, here is the History of the last 50 years: “People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone. ”

    This is – warning on Seniors being scammed. Every dysfunction of the last few decades can be laid to the above – all that was necessary for the Triumph of Evil was for Good to be Polite.

  36. VXXC

    Dear Sir,

    I salute your intellectual rigor and courage.

    Do you think for an instant that the people quite successfully imposing this Farrago of a Farce care *at all* about logic, reason, God save us tradition or any wrong but their RIGHTS?

    Dear Sir if they were brave instead of cowards they’d have shoved you up against a wall already. They don’t as they are afraid of such consequences for themselves, also if force is the milleu the Right Wing…ahem…

    When I think of politically aggressive Gays for instance I think of Perez Hilton.

    You should as well. It’s what has defeated you.

    More than all the Progs in sum “Gays” are in an echo chamber – when they’re political they range from at best trapped in adolescent fixation on their nethers and their precious happiness, more often they’re angry and crazy.

  37. Matt: You are correct. We do allow persons as young as 14 to marry with parental permission. It does not seem to be the norm as it was in colonial days, which was the point I was trying to make (and missing). I don’t know that they needed parental permission then.
    One modern twist–If say a 21 year old wants to marry a 14 year old and the parents say it’s okay, the couple is okay as soon as marriage vows are spoken. If the 21 year old is caught having sex with the 14 year old before marriage, I think in many places that is considered illegal. Seems very inconsistent. Or that marriage is definitely different from just living together or having sex.

  38. txslr

    The conservative political scientist Kenneth Minogue once opined that the differences between conservatives and libertarians appear to be diminishing because leftist policies have wrought so much destruction that there is little of civilization left to conserve.

    I would offer the comments here as supporting evidence for Dr. Minogue’s opinion. Perhaps the most important institution in the development of civilization, monogamous marriage between a man and a woman, is such a mystery that people can’t seem to explain its existence beyond conventional bilateral contracting or religious prejudice.

    Similarly, when I asked in an earlier installment of this series of comments for an explanation from a libertarian perspective of the state’s claim of legitimate involvement in marriage I received one nonsensical reply that appeared to assume that all rights arise from the opinions of a simple majority of some (unspecified) population and another that insisted that there simply could be no legitimate state interest in marriage.

    This latter position is, I think, a willful failure of imagination of a type that gives rise to both libertarian and progressive liberal perspectives on a number of issues. The typical implied argument runs “I can’t think of any reason that I like to maintain or support the status quo, hence it is unjustified.” A conservative perspective is more humble, I think: “Although I may not readily think of a compelling reason to maintain or support the status quo, there could be one I have not thought of. That reason may, in fact, be the cause of the status quo’s having become the status quo, so I should be very cautious when advocating major changes.”

    With respect to marriage, it might be worthwhile spending some more time trying to sincerely understand why the status quo is monogamous marriage between and man and a woman, at least in all of the most advanced and prosperous societies of the world, and how the state might actually have a legitimate interest in supporting the traditional institution.

    The state has a particular interest in the status and welfare of children. Parents, of course, have rights with respect to their children, but children (at least post-birth) are not viewed as property to be disposed of as the parents wish. The state claims the right to intervene in various ways to ensure that rights of children are protected.

    These rights are special – the right to be fed, clothed, protected from harm, educated. These are rights very different from those of adults. They are positive rights; rights that involve an obligation on the part of someone. Hence marriage and the state’s legitimate interest in it. Marriage is a unique form of obligation between two people whose relationship may, by accident, give rise to children. It is an obligation between two adults on behalf of those potential children to stand ready to fulfill their obligations to provide for their children and each other as parents.

    This is the reason why marriages have been much more difficult to terminate than bilateral contracts, even if both parties wish to end the relationship. It remains difficult to completely terminate a married parent’s obligation to a child.

    So, what is the purpose for same sex marriage? Marriage is an obligation recognized by the state to provide for the children that arise from a relationship. It is an obligation which holds particular – nearly unique – significance for children accidentally conceived. A necessary, albeit not sufficient condition for accidental conception is that opposite sex partners be involved. Indeed, the state’s only interest in marriage arises from the obligations it has to ensure for the minimum well-being of those children, none of whom will arise from a same-sex relationship.

    But, why NOT same sex marriage? Even if there is no reason for the state’s recognizing relationships that can never naturally give rise to children, is there a reason for the state to foreswear involvement? I would argue that from a libertarian perspective the answer should be that the government should not do things it does not have a legitimate interest in doing and that includes expanding the institution of marriage beyond its narrow legitimate purpose.

    From a conservative perspective I would argue that including same sex couples in state sanctioned marriage will necessarily change the nature of the sanction. What, for example, is the purpose for making divorce costly if there is obviously no possibility of children? Why not just send a postcard to the DMV saying that you’ve decided you don’t want to be married anymore? And if getting out of a marriage can be so simple, why not make getting into one as easy as sending an email? So what have we got when getting married is about as significant as joining Costco? Perhaps we get more of what we already have – more children born into single-parent families, fathers who can’t keep track of all the children they’ve caused to be conceived by various women they don’t support, more and more children born into permanent poverty.

    On the other hand, maybe Dr. Minogue is on to something. Perhaps we’re so far gone that it really doesn’t matter anymore.

  39. wisren

    There seem to be a several viewpoints that get improperly tangled in these debates:

    *The religious views of marriage

    *The societal definition of marriage, and

    *The legal (governmental) definition of marriage.

    Major religions all recognize only heterosexual marriages (possibly polygamous or polyamorous), and have varying strong strictures about sexual acts in general.

    The societal definition of marriage has always definitively been heterosexual. Until the recent secularization of much of society, the religious and societal definitions and rules worked together.

    Likewise, government has long recognized, regulated and rewarded marriage.

    Taken together, the religious, social and governmental treatments of marriage have, throughout human society and throughout history, been an organic and consistent idea: marriage is the place for sex, exclusively heterosexual. This is not an accident or some arbitrary religious edict; rather, it is a natural outcome critical to and centered around the most important function of a society: procreation – the continuation of that society to future generations, and the creation of younger members with the aging of their parental generation.

    The almost perfect universality of the traditional definition and function of marriage should give great pause to anyone contemplating changing it – whether religious or not. One of the great failures of modern times has been the belief that we can cast aside the ideas of the past because “things have changed.” The tragedies that resulted from this in just the last century have been unprecedented.

    But the debate is primarily about government and “gay marriage.”

    In modern society, the traditional meanings have been under attack. The assertion, historically incorrect, is that marriage is about love between two consenting adults. The rise in success of contraception, and other changes in society, have made that view more popular, but no more correct. Historically, love has not been a necessary element in marriage, depending on the age and the religious and cultural environment. Love is highly desirable in marriage, but not essential. The over-valuation of love has led, among other things, to the devaluation of marriage as a child raising institution through the ease with which divorce can now be obtained.

    Marriage is what it is. Other definitions should not co-opt the term.

    Now to “gay marriage…”

    The legal “rights” and government interests associated with marriage are mostly about children – for example, a “marriage deduction” and child deductions to slightly offset the cost of raising the next generation. Other rights (inheritance from spouse, medical authority, etc) are of lesser import to society.

    The “gay rights” movement has a stated goal regarding marriage that is at odds with its long held definition and civil purpose: “equality.” By this they really mean the following:

    *The right to redefine “marriage” and to gain approval. They hope, through government action, to strengthen the effect of existing propaganda to force all disapproval and difference from the public square. They are succeeding well in Europe and Canada through overt censorship, and are imposing this where they can in the US – such as in media organizations and schools. The anti-democratic ways this goal is sought are pernicious and dangerous, and need to be fought – whether or not one personally approves of gay unions or not.

    *The right to non-child related benefits. These rights are already available either through contract, or through “civil union” and compassion should prevent us from denying these to homosexual relationships. However, it is clear that these are not even close to sufficient as far as the gay rights movement is concerned.

    *The right to adopt or to have created children through third parties that are then “raised” by the gay couple. This goal is one of the most dangerous and conflicts with the rights of children. Children have a *right* to parents; people don’t have a *right* to children.

    *The right to benefits created to help families (i.e. with children) such as marital tax deductions. Such claims are unsupportable in the absence of children.

    Thus the “gay marriage” campaign is supported with misleading propaganda and is at odds with long established and tested social norms, and especially with the rights of children.

  40. Colin

    wisren: “Thus the “gay marriage” campaign is supported with misleading propaganda and is at odds with long established and tested social norms, and especially with the rights of children.”

    Oddly enough, the American Academy of Pediatrics just released a technical report (10.1542/peds.2013-0377) arguing the exact opposite after reviewing 30 years of research on the matter of gay parents raising children.

    “the AAP concludes that it is in the best interests of children that they be able to partake in the security of permanent nurturing and care that comes with the civil marriage of their parents, without regard to their parents’ gender or sexual orientation.”

    Please tell me what part of that report and the research referred to within is either misleading or propaganda or at odds with the rights of children.

  41. Mark Luhman


    The answer is simple all of their so called research is BS, like most social science research.

  42. Leonard Weinstein

    Dr. Briggs,
    I find your arguments against same sex marriage totally without any logical basis. I personally am not gay, but you seem to not understand the basic issue. Animals do not marry, but they do pair off in some cases (sometimes for life) or form other sexual arrangements. Humans (also animals) developed marriage for one or more of three reasons: 1) Assured access to sex, 2) A strong religious or legal force to hold a pair together to raise children and operate a household, or 3) Give legal rights (property, insurance, responsibility, etc.), with or without children as an issue.

    The objections to multiple spouses only comes from the fact that if a few men take most of the women, the rest come up short. Thus one spouse is a reasonable social compromise, but clearly not a necessity. Notice that if a woman cannot have children, or is a widow or divorced, and will not have more children, then an argument that marriage is only for having children is clearly nonsense in her case.

    Since marriage AND SEX is between CONSENTING ADULTS only, then any arrangement where children or non consenting adults are involved is not allowed. This is logical, as young children are rightly denied some rights, as being not mature enough to judge the situation. There is a problem where to settle the threshold of age of consent, but I have no problem with a reasonable age being selected by society. Sex with under-age children, with their consent, is thus not allowable, and forced sex at all ages without consent is never allowable (your rights end at the boundary of others rights).

    The strange actions of cross dressing or most other victimless but strange activities may be repugnant to you, but if it does not violate any specific law, or harm anyone just leave it alone. Your moral indignation is not a basis for objection.

  43. MattS


    “I don’t know that they needed parental permission then.”

    That’s a complicated issue, but as a matter of law, probably not for a number of reasons. Civil marriage as we know it today did not exist. You either got married by the local minister or you did the common law marriage thing.

    Would the local minister have been willing to marry a couple with a bride under 16 without the consent of the parents?

    Common law marriages have no requirements at all beyond the couple living together as husband and wife.

    The real question is would the community have accepted such a marriage without parental consent? Back then, if the girls parents objected it’s unlikely the father would have been punished for killing the groom. Even if the father of the young bride didn’t resort to violence being run out of the community or shunned would be a serious handicap to survival back then.

    Add in the fact that arranged marriages were not all that uncommon in colonial days and I doubt many such marriages occurred without parental consent.

  44. Sanderr van der Wal

    If people believe that, in the *pursuit* of their happiness, they will be happier if they are married to somebody of the same sex, then the government must let them marry, as the right to the pursuit of happiness is in the USA Constitution.

    And yes, this is only apprpriate for consenting adults. There are sure to be people who’s pursuit of happiness consists of killing lots of other people, amd that is forbidden too, for obvious reasons.

    The ‘life’s unfair’ argument is ridicolous. Christianity is quite clear about making life less unfair for everybody. The Samaritan did not say to the wounded man next to the road, life’s unfair, and moved on.

  45. Peter317

    Sheri, another interesting question would be: is it illegal to have sex with a 14-year old divorcee, and, if so, why?

  46. Peter317

    I think of marriage as being a contract between the persons involved, entered into to enable them to give freely of themselves, reasonably free of the fear that the massive investment involved – and indeed required – is going to come to nought.
    I also believe that marriage came about in recognition of the teachings of human experience that love simply isn’t enough – the divorce courts are full of people who once professed deep and undying love for each other

  47. Briggs


    Sorry I haven’t the time to answer everybody. I’ll be freer on Monday. But for now…


    “Since marriage AND SEX is between CONSENTING ADULTS only…” This assumes what it sets out to prove, and therefore your argument is a fallacy, etc.

    Sanderr van der Wal,

    No, sir. April 1st is several days away. Come back with “If people believe that, in the *pursuit* of their happiness, they will be happier if they are married to somebody of the same sex, then the government must let them marry, as the right to the pursuit of happiness is in the USA Constitution” then, for it must be a meant as a jocularity.

    If I believe slapping your face will lead me in my pursuit of happiness therefore the government must allow this? Oh my, oh my…I nearly had a spit take.


    See also the Regnerus report.

  48. Noblesse Oblige

    I am amazed at the number of commenters who appear to believe that it is reasonable and appropriate for government to deterimine what relationships between humans are to be recognized by government.

  49. Leonard Weinstein

    Dr. Briggs,

    Excuse me but every position you have taken on the issues also assumes what you have set out to prove. There has to be a common understanding on meaning to even communicate so assumptions are by necessity taken. Logic is a process, but has to have a set of given assumptions to apply to. My only two assumptions were that below a reasonable age, humans are not equipped to make reasonable judgement, and that human “rights” of one individual stop at the boundary of the “rights” of other individuals. Much of what you say is just your moral assumptions as the start for the logical process. You should not make blogs on morality issues as these are never based on anything but personal belief.

  50. Briggs

    Leonard Weinstein,

    No, sir. You assumed what was set out to be proved, end of story. Contrariwise, natural law (based on simpler axioms) can show a marriage is between two adults (defined biologically), one male, one female.

  51. tom


    >> Contrariwise, natural law (based on simpler axioms) can show a marriage is between two adults (defined biologically), one male, one female.<>Every couple with a private agreement is effectively equal; the state will enforce an agreement between says just as it will an agreement between straights. How does that satisfy the social-con objection to SSM? Likewise, some conservatives support state sanction of marriage because they believe the state has a role in promoting marriage as a social good and domesticating force. I’ve always thought that was a good argument for gay marriage too, but we needn’t argue about that; the point is, if the state gets out the marriage business it’s no longer officially promoting anything.
    And finally, if you’re worried about gay marriage for fear that it’s another step down the cultural slippery slope towards polygamy, why on earth would you favor a paradigm of private contract? A multi-party contract would place polygamous groups on the same legal footing as couples. If polygamy’s your chief concern, you’re probably much better off sticking with state-sanctioned marriage and taking your chances with the Supreme Court. Exit question: What am I missing here? Any social conservatives want to make the case for why Paul’s right?<<

  52. tom


    >> Contrariwise, natural law (based on simpler axioms) can show a marriage is between two adults (defined biologically), one male, one female.

    This assumes what it sets out to prove, and therefore your argument is a fallacy, etc..

    Noblesse Oblige, Allahpundit disagrees with you.

    >>Every couple with a private agreement is effectively equal; the state will enforce an agreement between says just as it will an agreement between straights. How does that satisfy the social-con objection to SSM? Likewise, some conservatives support state sanction of marriage because they believe the state has a role in promoting marriage as a social good and domesticating force. I’ve always thought that was a good argument for gay marriage too, but we needn’t argue about that; the point is, if the state gets out the marriage business it’s no longer officially promoting anything.
    And finally, if you’re worried about gay marriage for fear that it’s another step down the cultural slippery slope towards polygamy, why on earth would you favor a paradigm of private contract? A multi-party contract would place polygamous groups on the same legal footing as couples. If polygamy’s your chief concern, you’re probably much better off sticking with state-sanctioned marriage and taking your chances with the Supreme Court. Exit question: What am I missing here? Any social conservatives want to make the case for why Paul’s right?

  53. Leonard Weinstein

    Dr. Briggs,

    You clearly misunderstand me. I do not think any of the “arguments” (yours or mine) PROVES anything. They are all opinions with personal initial assumptions. Your comment on “natural law” is a prime example. Different groups and cultures would claim different natural laws to justify their actions. Science can try (and frequently does a good job) to connect cause and effect, but any moral concept is not related to science. I have no problem with most present societal choices, as they are practical solutions to certain needs (e.g., how to best raise children in a given society). Please note that in older times there were different arrangements, and I see the logic of present choices, but don’t try to make such things as not allowing polygamy or not as a moral issue, it is just a practical choice at the present time. I see no logical reason to reject same sex marriage, but would go along with societies decision for similar reasons. If a majority now accept it, get over it.

  54. Jim S

    I believe that anyone who believes in God is clearly delusional, quasi insane and should not be allowed to vote, have a drivers licence, enter into a contract, marry or reproduce.

    My logic is every bit a rational as yours.

  55. TSTM

    @Jim S,

    I believe your belief is clearly delusional, insane and should not be allowed to vote, procreate, let free in society etc etc.

  56. TSTM

    @Lenoard, Eric, tom etc

    Few points to note:

    1. Marriage is not right by default. The simple reason is that rights are created through contracts. For rights to exist, there has to be a contract between the two parties. Marriage itself is a special type of contract involving the marrying parties and the society as detailed by Briggs, The Preemptive offender, txlsr etc etc. Rights and duties of these parties are created by the contract of marriage. In some cultures, people do enter into weird contracts that award the right to marry – look up ‘child marriages’ where two families agree to have their children married. But barring such prior contracts, marriage is not a right.

    2. A marriage provides the couple an ‘Option’ to have and raise a child. The couple may or may not exercise the option. If they do exercise the option, they become parents and have to raise the child as per standards agreed with the society as described by other posters here. Hence a couple with no intention or ability to have children may marry, provided the below point.

    3. In order to enter into contracts, the parties must represent that they are able to perform the duties required by the contract. Otherwise, the counter parties may be shortchanged. SSM supporters need to positively demonstrate how a gay couple can provide the biological duties that a genetic parent and a mother would provide in a heterosexual marriage. Since it is biologically impossible, a gay couple cannot represent that they can perform the contract. The same argument would apply to lesbian couples.

    4. While based on the above, the society should not allow SSM, the two people may enter into bilateral agreements listing out all rights and duties such two people can award – rights and obligations to property and income, specific rights over the partner’s body, rights limiting sex with 3rd parties etc. The society or the government may not be a party to this contract.

    5. The government must not discriminate between the contract of marriage and the contract in point 4 except on the specific instances where the society awards rights and obligations to the contract of marriage which is absent in the contract between the same sex couple.

    6. Adoption: In my view, there can be numerous instances a child is deprived of natural parents and better off being raised by a same sex couple rather than by the State system, and such couples may be allowed to raise the child. The act of adoption itself would be an contract with the society that the same sex couple would raise the child as per the standards laid out by the society.

  57. TSTM

    sorry, in point 1 above I meant ‘Marriage is not a right by default’.

  58. Briggs


    Fun from Waiting for Godot to Leave:

    • Here’s how arguing on the internet goes.

    A: The sky is blue.
    B: How dare you! Prove it.
    A: Look at the sky. What color do you see?
    B: White.
    A: Those are clouds.
    B: Got ya!
    A: No, you don’t “got me”. You’re looking at the wrong thing. Let’s try this. What color is that shirt you’re wearing?
    B: Blue.
    A: Look at the sky. That open part next to the clouds. Is not that the same color as your shirt?
    B: Are you saying the sky comes from Wal-Mart just like my shirt? You are an idiot!

    And another from Eye of the Tiber: New Archbishop of Canterbury Makes Compelling Case For Gay Marriage.

  59. Jim S

    You seem to be operating under the illusion that rights are something that are granted by the State? Rights are inalinable to the individual, and are thus independent of the wants, beliefs or desires of the State(or of your next door neighbor, for that matter).

    My rights end, where yours begin. Demonstrate to me how SSM infringes on your rights.

  60. txslr

    @Jim S

    I would have assumed that TSTM was referring to social contract theory. Your response, however, is facile as it appears to leave no room for government at all. Or perhaps you are an anarchist, in which case good luck to you.

    Regardless, the answer to your question has already been given – having the government redefine marriage interferes with my right to recognize only traditional relationships as marriages.

  61. TSTM

    @Jim S,

    with due respect, that’s a load of liberal crap. If you break the try to harm me and break the social contract, your so called inalienable human rights are going to be made alienable by me. You know it and I know it. Your rights survive to the extend both of us have adhered to the contract. Without a contractual view, human rights don’t make sense. You don’t get unconditional rights. There are no unconditional rights.

  62. Ken

    Milton Friedman addressed a question from a Stanford audience that boiled down to its essence freedom–and the freedom to do good cannot be made a mandate nor can morality be imposed as these ultimately destroy fundamental freedom:

    One can substitute the example in the short video with the unmistakable right vs. wrong lenghty views here & see the same exact fundamentals at issue.

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