A fairly wide variety of bloggers have taken an affirmative position of the concept of same sex marriages ***
My preferred solution is one originally that I originally saw proposed by (Reverend) Donald Sensing, wherein the state gets out of the marriage business altogether and into the civil union business. The rights and benefits of what is now marriage would be contained in the civil union. You can call it whatever you like, but at the end of the day it’s a contract (authorized and witnessed by the state) between two individuals. Part of what a marriage is a contract; it’s not the glamorous, ceremonial part – it’s what helps you establish a legal relationship between two people.
The other part of what a marriage should be is spiritual. Regulating spiritual matters is like trying to staple a wet noodle; leave the spiritual marriages unregulated and effectively ceremonial. Religious organizations will be the primary practitioners, and there are plenty of religious organizations that currently cater to homosexuals who will marry gay couples. Of course if you leave the practice unregulated anyone would be able to perform marriages, which wouldn’t matter since marriage would have no legal significance – it would be ceremonial.
Alas, I’ve seen no indication that anyone is moving on those idea…
I’m against imposition of same sex marriages via judicial fiat. I’ve read the Constitution and there is no “right” to marriage. If a state democratically elects to recognize same sex marriages I’m all for it. If the governed have no say in the matter, then I am opposed. It is interesting that many (not all) of the folks basing their arguments for same sex marriage on equal rights issues have no problems with the government abridging or eliminating on of the few rights actually enumerated in the Constitution:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Oh well, consistency is the first virtue to be dropped when an agenda is at stake (on the left and the right).
There are many legal questions regarding same sex marriage, most of them covered by David From via Spoons.
Then of course there are the procedural issues, which have not been answered in Massachusetts.
Among the many lingering question in my mind is whether religious organizations in Massachusetts will be required to provide the same employee benefits to married gay couples as they do do heterosexual married couples. Assuming that the religious organization does not recognize the validity of these same sex marriages (which is likely a safe assumption) can/should/will a state force them to recognize these marriages via employee benefits? Mac alerts us to a California decision that I think is probably a harbinger that for Massachusetts will mean the answer to the previous question will be YES, even though the decision has nothing to do with marriage.
So that’s it for me, I’ve said my peace.
*** As numerous folks have mentioned, there are no restrictions in federal or state law barring homosexuals from marrying. It’s that they presumably would like to marry someone of the same sex where they run afoul of the laws or regulations. So while the debate may be on marriage for gay couples, it’s probably better grammatically as “same sex marriage” rather than “gay marriage”
Update: The best defense I’ve seen of traditional marriage is this one from Donald Sensing:
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.
The affirmation of love and affection of the spouses for one another has only rarely been a cause for marriage in human history. Until recently in the West (including America), the emotional feelings that spouses had for one another was not considered very important; what was important was their social or economic similarity, and their compatibility in a myriad of other ways. Marrying because of love is a latecomer to the scene and is not really the norm in most of the world’s people now. There are billions of people living in cultures in which brides and grooms hardly have met before their wedding day.
The very fundamental purpose of marriage has been and remains the propagation of the next generation. Look at it this way: just as “a hen is an egg’s way of making another egg,” marriage is the means by which parents become grandparents. While it is biologically possible for children to be born outside the marital bond (obviously), it is empirically provable that what biologists call “survival advantages” of those children is so relatively low that non-marital childbearing is literally a dead end.
Hence, marriage is self-perpetuating, self-referent upon itself and self-defining. Marriage throughout human history has never needed to be defined be relying on something else. However, same-sex “marriage” has no existence or meaning apart from male-female marriage. Male-female marriage is self-perpetuating within itself; same-sex marriages cannot self-perpetuate within itself at all. In fact, if not for male-female marriage, same-sex marriage cannot occur at all. Self-perpetuation is the critical element of marriage without which a same-sex relationship, no matter how affectionate, fails to be marriage.
Elements of marriage such as property rights and the like do not centrally define what marriage is. Indeed, the historical and present record shows that such matters have varied widely across human cultures and experience. The wife as an equal partner is a modern development, but its lack in other times and places does not obviate the essential character of marriage, the procreation of the next generation. The various legal and social rights and recognitions that pertain to married couples are the result, not the cause, of marriage, intended to buttress its central purpose. Therefore, they are added or discarded inasmuch as they do so, though not without other influences as well. Thus, the legal rights and social claims of married partners are incidental, not essential, to defining what marriage is.
Marriage is therefore a social institution, not a merely personal one. All society has a vested interest in the propagation of the next generation and the health thereof. As a social institution, marriage is defined in aggregate, not in particular. This fact argues against a Nominalist position that if two same-sex persons obtain a marriage license, that they are in fact married. It also shows why the pro side’s snark that many male-female married couples never have children is irrelevant: out of any random 100 heterosexual marriages, the overwhelming majority will conceive children of their own, within the marriage bond, but out of any 100 same-sex unions, exactly zero will do so. Hence, the lack of children in a small minority of male-female marriages is accidental to what marriage does and what it is for, but the inability of same-sex unions to have children within the bond is inescapably central to their relationship.
All of which is to say that the accidental characteristics of marriage – love, affection, property and other rights – spring from what marriage is rather than define what marriage is. Therefore, whatever relationship homosexuals may have with one another, and whatever legal rights civil authority may confer upon them, marriage is inherently – indeed, metaphysically – the province only of men and women united in matrimony.