|A slogan on a t-shirt|
is not a reasoned argument.
From the reaction of a surprisingly large number of people, you’d think I’d called for every homosexual to be rounded up and put into Black Marias with no tailpipes. And since I have identified myself philosophically as a conservative Catholic (though not spiritually, as I do not believe in God), a lot of people took my objection to gay rights to mean that I was some close-minded Bible-thumping bigot who hates all gays for the mere fact of being gay.
Amazing, what people will infer out of thin air.
I don’t have an issue with homosexuals or homosexuality. My own sense—which seems to be confirmed by science—is that homosexuality is an inborn predisposition, no different than, say, alcoholism or left-handedness: There isn’t much a person born with the characteristic can do about it.
Those with an inborn predisposition—any inborn predisposition—can choose to not carry out the urgings of their predisposition: That is, they can choose to repress their predisposition. Alcoholics go to AA meetings precisely so as to repress the urge of their predisposition to drink themselves to death; my grandmother (born a lefty) had her left hand tied to her belt when she was taught to write in the 1930’s.
But though people can repress their predisposition—whatsoever that predisposition might be, be it positive, negative or neutral—they can’t choose to have or not to have their particular predisposition. As Lady Gaga says, they were born this way.
As an inborn predisposition which I do not share, I am indifferent to homosexuality, to the same degree that I am indifferent to left-handedness or alcoholism: Two other traits which I do not share. (Parenthetically, I’ve always suspected that those who belligerently “hate the gays” are secretly afraid that they themselves might be gay; but that’s for another post.) And just as I think that people who are left-handed or alcoholic should not be discriminated against, I think it’s wrong to discriminate against homosexuals qua homosexuals.
But what I am saying is that homosexuals should not receive certain privileges that society has deemed befit some citizens and not others.
Like the benefits of marriage.
Our society grants married people certain rights and privileges—certain benefits—which homosexual couples believe they ought to receive as well. These privileges center mostly around economic benefits, such as worker health insurance covering both spouses and their children, and not just the worker; pension benefits; inheritance benefits; income tax benefits; and other such rights and privileges.
Hence the contemporary discussion about homosexual marriage: Those in favor of homosexual marriage believe that gays are being denied certain “rights” that straight couples are enjoying by virtue of being in a heterosexual union.
Since they consider this discriminatory—that straight couples have certain rights, privileges and benefits that are denied homosexual couples seemingly by virtue of their sexual orientation—they are not arguing for the elimination of those said rights, privileges and benefits granted to straight couples. Rather, they are arguing for expansion: They want gay people to receive those self-same rights, privileges and benefits that straight married people receive.
In other words, “equality”: Straight couples get these goodies—so gay couples ought to get ‘em too. Therefore, gay marriage ought to be legalized—and all the benefits, rights and privileges that straight couples enjoy ought to be granted to gay couples too.
This is the current argument in favor of “gay rights” and homosexual marriage.
But this is a flawed argument—because it misses the point about why straight married couples have certain rights, privileges and benefits that nobody else gets:
What is the point of marriage? In other words, why does marriage—as an institution and as a social construct—exist?
Simple: Protection—for the woman, and for the children that she bears.
Marriage is not a “right”, much less a “human right”: Marriage is a contract. A contract between a man and a woman that obliges both parties to certain duties, responsibilities and obligations—the principal obligation being that a husband must provide for his wife and their children, and cannot abandon them at will; and that the wife must bear the husband’s children exclusively, rather than some other man’s.
That is the core obligation of marriage.
Why does this obligation exist? Because throughout most of human history—I’m talking since the origin of the species, not just the last couple of hundred years—it has been a practical impossibility for a woman to bear and raise children on her own, unassisted, while simultaneously providing food, shelter and clothing for herself and those children. None but an idiot would question this: For most of human history, it was the case that either the woman or her children—or more likely both—would not long survive, if she did not have substantial help.
Enter the husband: By way of social pressure, the man who knocked up the woman was the man who had to take care of the woman and her kids—who were after all his kids too.
Why was there social pressure on the man to take care of the children? Because if he did not do so, it would either fall on the society as a whole to take care of the woman and the man’s children; or those children (and perhaps the woman as well) would likely die.
No society—be it a small tribe or a modern super-state—can long survive if the children do not survive. Children are a society’s future—literally.
At the same time, no society—no matter how rich—can long survive if it is obliged to care for childbearing women and their offspring.
So all societies—especially poor societies—have pressured men to enter into a binding union with the mother of their children, and obliged them to thus provide for the woman and their children. In modern socieities, that pressure is legal—court-ordered child support payments and whatnot. In poor and ancient societies, that pressure was and is informal—but no less compelling for it, up to and including social debarment, and in some cases even death for the deadbeat dad.
The rationale is simple: All societies—especially poor societies—cannot dedicate resources to providing food, clothing and shelter to women bearing children. Someone has to take care of the woman and her children—the father of those children. Thus all societies have pressured the father of those children to marry the woman and thus become a “husband”: An individual with certain binding responsibilities, principal of which is the care and protection of the woman and their joint children.
By the same token, all societies—especially poor societies—have pressured women to remain strictly monogamous: If a man suspected that his wife’s children were not his own, he would not have the incentive to care for his wife and her children; he might even abandon them. And so those children would either not survive, or would become a burden to the society that tried to protect them. Those children are society’s future—but they are also a huge burden, if the society is obliged to provide for them.
This is the reason that adulterous women are stoned to death in poor countries: It’s not that they “fear a woman’s sexuality”, or some such feminist balderdash—it’s that in those poorer societies, they want to send the clear message that adultery is not tolerated. By explicitly denouncing adultery—up to and including the killing of the adulterous woman—the society is reassuring the men that the children born of their wives are indeed theirs. And therefore, the poor society will not have to deal with the consequences of abandoned women and dependent children.
(This explains why it’s no accident that societies penalize adultery in inverse proportion to the society’s median wealth: The richer the average person in a given society, the less the opprobrium on adultery. Consider the situation in the West, compared to the Middle East.)
So again, all societies—especially poor societies—have a vested interest in making sure that the man cares for the woman’s children: Thus all societies, especially poor ones, pressure women to remain faithful to their husbands, and pressure men to stay with and provide for their wives and children.
Those are the two obligations that men and women enter when they get married. It’s certainly not romantic, and it’s certainly not PC—I can practically hear the supersonic scream of feminists throwing a hissy-fit over the above few paragraphs—but remember: The truth only smiles. Just because you don’t like the truth doesn’t make it any less true.
Now, how does this relate to gay marriage?
It ought to be quite obvious: Modern society recognizes that it is in its own best interest to foment childbearing. Thus heterosexual married couples enjoy certain rights, privileges and benefits that have been granted by our society in order to help raise children—and hopefully encourage more children.
After all: Children are a society’s future—literally.
Thus the state grants married couples tax incentives for each child they have, while obliging employers to grant health care insurance and other benefits not just to the worker, but to the worker’s spouse and children. The state guarantees that a woman’s job will still be available after they have given birth to a child—and guarantees that the woman will have the paid maternity leave in order to have the child without financial strain. (Well, maybe they don’t guarantee it in the U.S.—but in civilized countries, they do.) The state gives priority to spouses with dependent children insofar as pensions, inheritance, and other issues arising from the death of one of the spouses.
In short, the state bends over backwards to grant childbearing, childrearing heterosexual couples all the breaks.
Some might object to this argument and say, “Straight couples get these benefits as soon as they are married—not when the straight couple has kids. So since they get these rights and privileges when straights marry, why shouldn’t gay couples get them when they marry as well?”
This is not a serious objection, for the obvious fact: Straight married couples are presupposed that they will have children in the near-term future. It is only among the educated classes—precisely those people now making such a hullabaloo over “gay rights”—that couples marry without the presumption that they will have children. The vast majority of straight couples marry with the firm expectation and intent to have children. Thus these benefits begin to accrue the second the straight couple marries because there is the presumption that children will arrive shortly. And of course, the biggest financial benefits of straight marriage accrue with the actual birth of children.
Why do societies do this? Grant all these rights, privileges and benefits? Again, it ought to be quite obvious: This entire regime of rights, privileges and benefits are aimed at encouraging childbearing and childrearing.
Because to repeat, and with feeling: Children are a society’s future—literally.
The vast majority of people in a given society—most of whom are busy raising children—thoroughly approve of this regime. Don’t believe me? How popular are tax breaks for couples with dependent children? Or conversely: How long would a government last that put a tax on kids, say $500 a year per brat?
See what I mean? Society’s relationship with the married heterosexual couple—and therefore the state’s relationship with the married heterosexual couple—is all about encouraging them to have kids: The more the merrier.
Now, here comes the interesting bit: Homosexual couples—by definition—cannot have a common biological child.
One or the other person in a homosexual couple might well have a child, or several children from previous relationships. But that child or children will have been fathered or mothered by some other person—patently of the opposite sex—who will be obliged by society (as embodied by the state’s judicial system) to care for those children. Those children will not be the responsibility of the homosexual partner.
Similarly, a homosexual couple might adopt a child. But it is not self-evident that a homosexual couple will do so—and in point of fact, most do not, even long-lasting homosexual couples.
Since a homosexual couple can never have a common biological child, society has no vested interest in granting both members of a gay couple the same benefits that it grants straight couples: Gays can’t have children, and if either does have children, it’s with someone else, and thus those children are legally protected by the mother or father of those children outside the homosexual union.
In fact, since all marriage benefits are granted for the sake of childbearing and childrearing—and not capriciously for the mere fact of being married—and since gay couples cannot bear children, and thus cannot raise biological children of their own—there is no reason for the society to grant special rights to gay couples.
Thus I see no reason why those rights, privileges and benefits that married straight couples receive ought to be extended to gay couples.
Thus I do not see why gay couples should be allowed to marry.
Furthermore, though I see no positive reason to allow gay people to marry, I do see a substantial negative reason why gay marriage ought to be proscribed.
All of these rights, privileges and benefits that married straight couples receive have a cost—a high cost. There are many people and organizations who bear this cost specifically—for instance, the worker’s employer, who pays for maternity leave; the insurance company that covers the spouse’s and children’s health care costs; the government, which receives less tax revenue due to tax breaks for each child; and so on.
But in aggregate, it is the society as a whole which has to bear these costs of marriage. That is, all of us subsidize straight couples—even us childless single-folk. We as a society are willing to bear these costs because we want to encourage childbearing and childrearing. Because to restate the obvious yet again: Children are our collective future—literally.
However, if gay couples are allowed to enjoy the benefits of straight couples, then they are burdening the society with an usufructuary cost which they are not entitled to—and should not be entitled to. After all, they cannot have common biological children. Any child that they raise is someone else’s child, or a child who would have existed with or without them. Therefore, they are taking from society as a whole, while not giving what the society expects—which is more children.
(Of course, this line of argument gets awfully nasty when you get to cases of heterosexual married couples who cannot have children: Should society economize, and therefore strip them of the benefits of marriage? Well, maybe society should: It might seem like society is kicking the childless couple when they’re down—and it is—but at the end of the day, a society’s resources are limited, no matter how rich it might be. Then again, this might be a self-correcting problem: Childless couples tend to get divorced at a higher rate than couples with dependent children, thus annulling the benefits of marriage: Of divorced couples, over two thirds are childless.)
So to sum up:
On a practical level, since gay couples cannot have children, they should not receive the rights, privileges and benefits of straight married couples—because although those benefits begin to accrue at the time of marriage, those benefits were specifically instituted to aid with childbearing and childrearing, and not for the mere fact of being married. That is, those benefits have a purpose: To foment and make easier the tasks of childbearing and childrearing, which gay couples—by definition where the case of childbearing is concerned—cannot or do not carry out.
And on a fairness level, why should we as a society shoulder costs which make a homosexual couple’s lives easier, but without the concomitant expectation of children to carry on the existence of the society?
These are the two reasons why gay couples should not be allowed to marry: They do not fulfill the society’s expectations of childbearing and childrearing. And they inflict a cost that the rest of us have to bear, for no other reason than that they are gay.
These are the reason why I am opposed to gay marriage.