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Common Arguments Against Gay Marriage: Moral and Religious Arguments


Man putting wedding ring on another man's finger
Inti St. Clair

What's The Point of Marriage, Gay or Straight?:

A common question in the debate over gay marriage is: what the point is for gays to marry? Aside from property and legal issues that could, in theory, be solved by other laws, what point are gays trying to make in attempting to get married? Why is it so important to be able to hold up a marriage certificate and say 'we're married' instead of simply saying 'we're a couple' without a certificate? Read More...

What is a Marriage Between a Man and a Woman?:

Those who argue against gay marriage insist that the only legitimate marriages are those between men and women. But what about people who are not quite either male or female - at least not according to all the definitions usually employed? Defining marriage in terms of sex begs the question of how we define the sexes - how we define who is a "man" and who is a "woman." Using such strict terminology, there are people for whom marriage might be permanently denied. Read More...

Marriage: Religious Rite or Civil Right?:

Many people argue that marriage is essentially and necessarily a religious rite - they conceive of marriage in almost exclusively religious terms. Therefore, legalizing gay marriage constitutes a type of sacrilege and an unjustified intrusion of the state into what is necessarily a religious matter. Because of religion's traditional role in sanctifying marriages and presiding over wedding ceremonies this is understandable, but it's also incorrect. Read More...

Marriage is Sacred and a Sacrament:

This is rarely argued explicitly, but it is perhaps one of the most important arguments for opponents of gay marriage. The idea that marriage is sacred and/or a sacrament underlies much of the vehemence that motivates them in a way that the other arguments fail to explain. Indeed, if it weren't for the idea that marriage is sacred, it seems unlikely that the debate would be as huge and rancorous as it is. Read More...

Marriage is for Raising Children:

The premise that gay couples don't merit treatment as married couples because of the disconnect between homosexuality and procreation cuts across many arguments against same-sex marriage. If marriage only exists for the purpose of having children, then how can gay couples who cannot naturally procreate be accorded the same status as fertile straight couples? Then again, this condition isn't imposed on straight couples. Read More...

Gay Marriage Will Undermine the Institution of Marriage:

A common argument against legalizing same-sex marriages is that doing so would undermine the institution of marriage. A marriage between members of the same sex is a self-contradiction, and if their unions are legalized, then marriage itself across the country will be harmed. Because the institution of marriage is in such trouble already, we can't afford further damage. Just how much damage could gay unions do, though? Read More...

Gay Couples are Unnatural & Unnatural Unions Cannot Be Marriage:

This premise influences other arguments and lies behind many negative opinions about homosexuality in general. Homosexual relationships are regarded as abnormal and unnatural. Perhaps they should be tolerated as a matter of social fairness, but they shouldn't be validated by the state or recognized as a form of marriage. Normalizing such abnormal behaviors and relationships will damage society in the long run. Read More...

Gay Marriage is Incompatible with Religious Liberty:

Opposition to equal civil rights for gays comes in many forms. Religious conservatives are losing the argument that there is something necessarily wrong with homosexuality, so they appear to be turning to a new one: treating gays like fully equal citizens and human beings is incompatible with conservatives' religious liberty. Since when did the preservation of religious liberty require treating members of a minority like second-class citizens? Read More...

Gay Marriage Can't Be a Real Marriage:

Some argue that marriage is defined narrowly as only being between a man and a woman, so gays can't possibly marry. The fact is, though, that the nature of marriage has changed in definition and make-up many times over the centuries. Marriage today isn't at all like what it was two millennia or even two centuries ago. The changes in marriage have been broad and fundamental, so what are traditionalists really trying to defend? What is "traditional" about modern marriage? Read More...

Marriage as a Cultural Symbol:

The debate over the legalization of gay marriage in America is about more than just the status of gay couples; it's also about the future of American civil law. Either civil law is defined by the needs and rights of citizens and gay marriage will be legalized, or civil laws will be placed under the dominion of religious laws and gay marriage will remain banned. Opponents of gay marriage try to offer legal and social reasons for their position, but it always comes back to religion and religion-based animosity towards gays for them. For Christian Nationalists, legalized gay marriage would represent a defeat for their religion in the fight to define the boundaries of American culture and law.

Gay marriage furthermore represents a threat to established norms of authority, identity and power. Those who possess that authority and power and who have used them to create their identities are thereby threatened by the prospective changes. One thing that has often puzzled me and others is the argument from so many religious and political conservatives that same-sex marriages "threaten" and "undermine" traditional heterosexual marriages. The same is said even about domestic partnership laws which would give same-sex partners a few of the same basic rights as married couples. Why is this? How can one relationship threaten or undermine someone else's?

Marriage is not just an institution, but also a symbol representing our culture's ideals about sex, sexuality, and human relationships. Symbols are important - they are a common cultural currency which we each use to help create our sense of self. Thus when the traditional nature of marriage is challenged in any way, so are people's basic identities. By asking legislatures to pass "Defense of Marriage" acts, voters are using the law to create the cultural equivalent of a copyright or trademark on the institution of marriage to prevent it from be challenged too much.


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