You don’t need to believe in God to support traditional marriage

There’s been a lot of talk about same-sex marriage the past couple of days. And by all indications, it’s not about to slow down anytime soon. Fueled by recent victories in Maine, Maryland and Washington, liberal activists are pressuring lame duck legislatures in Illinois, Rhode Island and several other states to pass legislation that would recognize same-sex marriages.

Though such efforts appear stalled at the moment, Catholics need to prepare for the onslaught the surreptitiously labeled “marriage equality” movement is set to launch in 2013.

One way they can do that is to familiarize themselves with the non-religious arguments for traditional marriage. Of the false narratives built up over the past several years none has been more effective than the absurd notion that there is no secular reason to oppose same-sex marriage, and that opponents of “marriage equality” are simply a bunch of theocrats who support hate groups.

To be sure, millions of Americans – President Obama included – do look for guidance from their faith when it comes to understanding marriage. But just like there are non-Biblical arguments that tell us reigning in government spending is probably a good idea, there are also non-religious reasons to oppose same-sex marriage.

With this in mind, Princeton Professor Robert George, Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan T. Anderson and Princeton PhD. candidate Sherif Girgis set out to write a book that defends the traditional understanding of marriage from a non-theological, reason-based outlook. Their book, “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: a Defense,” was released last month. Professor George sat down with Catholic writer Brandon Vogt to talk about the book for the upcoming edition of Our Sunday Visitor. Here is just part of their discussion (with some editing)

Our Sunday Visitor: In the book, you say the entire marriage debate hinges on one question: What is marriage? Why is that question so important?

Professor George: Advocates of redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships appeal to the principle of equality. We cannot, however, understand what equality does and does not require without first determining what marriage is.

They hold to the unquestioned assumption that marriage, properly understood, is simply an especially intense emotional bond.

The assumption, however, turns out to lack credibility.

For example, it cannot make sense of why marriage is necessarily a sexual partnership, as opposed to a partnership that could just as well be integrated around other (nonsexual) shared interests, activities or objectives (a love of tennis or literature, a shared commitment to a political or religious cause, or whatever).

Nor — quite crucially — can it make sense of why marriage is a union of two persons, and not three or more (triads, quadrads, etc.) in polyamorous sexual partnerships.

What can account for, explain and justify these features of marriage is the traditional understanding of marriage as a conjugal union. This type of union is a multilevel (bodily as well as emotional) sharing of life that is made possible by the sexual-reproductive complementarity of man and woman. It is oriented to, and would naturally be fulfilled by, the spouses’ conceiving and rearing children together.

Brandon has also published an essay that debunks the 10 most popular arguments in favor of gay marriage. I won’t cite them all, but here is the strongest part of his secular-based argument

4) Same-sex marriage won’t affect you, so what’s the big deal? First, it would weaken marriage. After same-sex marriage was legislated in Spain in 2005, marriage rates plummeted. The same happened in the Netherlands. Redefining marriage obscures its meaning and purpose, thereby discouraging people from taking it seriously.

Second, it would affect education and parenting. After same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada, the Toronto School Board implemented a curriculum promoting homosexuality and denouncing “heterosexism.” They also produced posters titled “Love Knows No Gender,” which depicted both homosexual and polygamous relationships as equivalent to marriage. Despite parents’ objections, the board decreed that they had no right to remove their children from such instruction.

Third, redefining marriage would threaten moral and religious liberty. This is already evident in our own country. In Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., for instance, Catholic Charities can no longer provide charitable adoption services based on new definitions of marriage. Elsewhere, Canadian Bishop Frederick Henry was investigated by the Alberta Human Rights Commission for simply explaining the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality in a newspaper column.

Brandon and Professor George’s efforts come at a very important, albeit confusing, time in our nation’s history. As Brandon mentioned in his essay, same-sex marriage advocates often argue if you are not gay, same-sex marriage does not affect you. To which one could ask: “If you are not a slave-owner, does slavery affect you?” The answer is obviously yes, it does affect you. Indeed, same-sex marriage affects society in many ways: it denies human rights to children, it restricts religious liberty and curtails freedom of speech, it condones an unnatural union, it intrudes on the rights of educational institutions, and it casts aside thousands of years of tradition.

Even if you aren’t a religious person, there are countless non-religious reasons why you should want to preserve the institution of marriage. If communicated effectively, these arguments should convince more Americans in the coming year that those who wish to redefine marriage are not on the right side of history and that same-sex marriage is not inevitable.



81 thoughts on “You don’t need to believe in God to support traditional marriage

  1. All this spinning and spinning, plus red herring after red herring, to try to convince people that the true reason for your opposition isn’t what it is: condemnation of homosexuals. Well guess what? As of Lawrence vs. Texas, homosexuality is no longer illegal (unlike polygamy, incest, and all the other rancid things you try to group us with). You are losing this issue BIG TIME, and rapidly. By the way, has no one noticed that the states that are the most anti-marriage equality are the exact same states (save for Utah) that fought for slavery, fought against integration and fought against miscenegation? Anyone? Hello?

    1. molledar says:

      You don’t like red herrings, Bob, but you sure like ad hominems! No one is reasonably “condemning” homosexuals by believing that marriage should remain what it always has been, a conjugal relationship between a man and a woman (see Dr. George’s definition in the post). As far as equality and rights are concerned, we don’t have a “right” to marry whoever we want. We don’t have a “right” to marry anyone, for that matter. Pro-gay-marriage folks are just as quick as their pro-traditional marriage counterparts in drawing clear distinctions between their relationships and those involved in poly-amorous or incestuous relationships, even though people interested in those types of relationships may feel as much love for the other(s) as a traditional or same-sex couple. This is precisely where the whole equality argument falls apart, and why comparing same-sex marriage to the civil rights a complete travesty.

      1. Patrick says:

        “We don’t have a ‘right’ to marry anyone, for that matter.” OF COURSE you have the right to marry!!! What makes you think you don’t? it is a fundamental right, guaranteed to us under our laws. The USSC has said so in 14 times separate cases. Even death row prisoners have a right to marry, even though they will never consummate their marriages, never even touch their brides. I challenge you to explain why you affirmatively state that there is no right to marry.

        1. molledar says:

          What I meant to say is that marriage is not an absolute right. There is no right under the law for a man to marry three women or an uncle to marry a niece, regardless of how they feel about marriage. On the other hand, all people have a right to be recognized as a person with basic human rights.

          1. Patrick says:

            No, you said that in your prior sentence. Now you’re merely backtracking on your statement, but pretending that you’re not. I think you don’t understand the marriage laws and should do more reading and less typing. “Incestuous realtionships????” Seriously? That parade of horribles is a silly concern.

          2. molledar says:

            It was a clarification of a misstatement, Patrick. You can agree with it or not. Oh, and correcting others’ spelling mistakes doesn’t make you look smarter. Just sayin’.

          3. Patrick says:

            Molledar: LOL. I wasnt. In fact, I made my own typo in my last reply to you. My comment was meant to reference, and dismiss, the slippery slope argument, as Greenpoint agrees.

          4. Why the constant slips down the slope to polygamy and incest? Why can’t you just accept your gay and lesbian brothers and sisters into the greater community? Because of Bronze Age moral prescriptions written by men?

          5. molledar says:

            Bob, I’m glad you recognize the slippery slope. Again…you make the incorrect and cynical assumption that recognizing the flaws in same-sex marriage arguments equates to a refusal to accept homosexuals as members of society. All the fair and reasonable arguments in favor of traditional marriage clearly point out the dignity and respect ALL people deserve. Being in favor of or opposing same-sex marriage IS not the determining factor in how people view others, and pretending that it does only serves to shut down honest debate.

          6. I “recognize” the slippery slope only to address the fact that it’s a red herring. The dignity and respect that I deserve as fully franchised American citizen is the right to marry the love of my life.

          7. You know what a slippery slope and red-herrings are. Now let’s see if you can recognize the genetic fallacy in your post.


    1. Carol, that’s because homosexuality is normal, homosexuals have the right to marry each other, and homosexuals have the right to adopt children.

    2. Sean Ahern says:

      Back off on the CAPS LOCK. It’s hard to ‘hear’ you.

  3. Tony Listi says:

    If we want to win the message war on marriage, we need to stop arguing over what marriage is and start emphasizing how children’s rights depend upon it the conservative/traditional conception of marriage. Until we emphasize children as the victims of a further erosion of sound marriage law, we will continue to lose. Until children become the victims rather than people with same-sex attraction, we will continue to lose. What marriage should be under civil law should be determined by children’s rights and nothing else.

    1. Patrick says:

      By that logic, we should make it illegal for single women to bear children and men who get their college girlfriends or one night stands pregnant should be foreced to marry those women and form a household and a family with them. That would have a direct, material and immediate effect on millions of childrens lives. Much better than arguing about gay marriage laws which direcly and materially affect the home lives of less than 5% of our population. Do you think we should make it illegal for single women to bear children?

      1. Tony Listi says:

        My logic dictates how civil marriage should be defined; it does not dictate the use of force, forcing people to get married or to refrain from sexual activity. You have not reduced my logic to absurdity; you’ve merely brought up irrelevant absurdities that are not dictated by my logic.

      2. Tony Listi says:

        My logic dictates what the definition of marriage should be; it does not dictate the use of force, forcing people to marry or to refrain from sexual activity. You have not reduced my logic to absurdity; you have merely brought up irrelevant absurdities not dictated by my logic.

        1. Marvin Derks says:

          Your logic also includes a personal definition of marriage that may not be in agreement with others definitions and may not be in reality. Therefore your logic is accurate based on your premise but your premise may be inaccurate making your logic non-relevant.

      3. Going over Marriage the thought that first comes to me is the very FACT that Jesus Christ made it into a Holy Sacrament of the Catholic Church. He attended a Jewish Marriage where the couple had taken vows and his mother was at the ceremony too. She saw that they were out of Wine so she turned to her Son and told HIM. And He performed the very First Miracle that was ever witnessed by the human eye. He had the men draw up water in these Large Containers for the purpose of his very First Miracle. He then blessed it and told the men to take the wine to the wine taster. After he took a drink of it, he asked the men why they had saved the best for last. God created man First and then out of pity for him being alone, He created a woman. Now it seems to me that man should respect the creators advice in what God meant for the Human Being! Now Go and READ the Holy Bible and then get back to me and tell me how this all fits into our humanity!

    2. Philip D. says:

      True. Banning gay couples from marriage also means that their children are denied the legal rights and benefits that the children of straight couples enjoy. What reason is there for putting the children of gays and lesbians at a disadvantage by depriving their children of the benefits of marriage? It seems odd that many people on this board falsely believe that gay people aren’t good parents, but also believe that we should further harm those children of gay and lesbian couples by denying them the legal rights and benefits that go along with marriage. This is honestly the most cold and heartless position that I could imagine. If you want to emphasize how you wish to harm the children of gay and lesbian couples by putting them at a disadvantage, then by all means, make that argument.

      1. Tony Listi says:

        Children deserve a mother and father, ideally their biological mother and father who are married. A man can never be a mother; a woman can never be a father. What is cold and heartless is to deny this fundamental need of children for a mother and father. A married man and woman should receive preference in adoption for the sake of the child’s needs. Furthermore, it is also cruel to deliberately separate children from their biological parents through artificial insemination. All of what I’ve said is also backed up by the social science on child development.

        1. Patrick says:

          Then your issue is, as I stated earlier, “Who should we allow to be a parent,’ as opposed to “who should we allow to be married.” Why are you conflating the 2?

          1. Guest says:

            Your inability to see the intimate connection between being married and being a good parent is quite evident with that comment of yours.

          2. Tony Listi says:

            Parenthood is a matter of natural fact, regardless of the law. The law should recognize civil marriage as *the* institution that best prepares for parenthood and proper raising of children. Man and woman should prepare themselves for children by commiting themselves to one another in marriage. The law should recognize this great value to children that marriage provides and protect it.

          3. Patrick says:

            I think you need to take a step back and listen to yourself. There is no issue before the courts or before any legislature that will prevent or inhibit married people from having children. This is about gay marriage. If your concern is children – a noble concern – there are dozens of things that you can do today to help children in this country be raised in a family of one man who is married to one woman. None of those involve preventing Bill and Bob down the street from getting hitched.
            And parenthood is more than a matter of natural fact and IS a matter of law. Are you not aware that your parental rights can be terminated tomorrow if society deems you unfit to parent? Um, that’s law. Similarly, deserving parents can adopt.
            Lastly, there is NOT always an intimate connection between marriage and parenting. My neighbors Peggy and Jim are a great married couple, yet childless. Are they less of a married couple since they have no kids?
            You seem to type words to support pre-conceived conclusions without actually working towards those conclusions through analyzing facts.
            Marriage does not equal parenting.

          4. Tony Listi says:

            Changing the definition of civil marriage will affect children and their rights. You cannot deny this. This isn’t just about Bill and Bob and their desires for public recognition and approval.
            Though he law can change custody by force, it never change the biological fact of parenthood. And we should not make laws the arbitrarily try to overrule nature.
            Though not every marriage results in children, EVERY child has parents, and the law should recognize this in marriage law. The law should presume every marriage will result in children.

          5. Patrick says:

            “Though the law can change custody by force, it never change the biological fact of parenthood.” Hmm. Better keep that sentiment to yourself if you ever try to adopt a child.

          6. Joe M says:

            That’s the point. Straight adoption is a reflection of biological parenthood. Gay adoption is not. Thus, we have a secular reason for traditional definitions of marriage.

          7. Greg B. says:

            Um, no, you don’t. Because your *secular* argument is rooted in the *religious* belief that, quite simply, gay is bad.

          8. Joe M says:

            There is a lot of research showing that children raised by a mother and father their entire lives do better than average on many measures commonly considered valuable to society (criminality, health, income, etc.).

            There is nothing religious about that.

          9. Patrick says:

            So we should outlaw your ability to adopt and raise a child?

          10. Joe M says:

            In what way did my comment suggest that?

          11. Patrick says:

            It is the reasonable conclusion of the viewpoints you express. Currently, as you know, you have the right, as an individual, to adopt and raise a child. You have stated that that is not in the best interest of the child. If you really stand by your beliefs, then You’d be OK with making single parent adoption illegal. Your inability or refusal to see the logical conclusions of your own statements is frustrating.

          12. Joe M says:

            Where did I say that it is not in the best interest of the child for me to adopt? Are you meaning that if I were single and not married I would still be able to adopt?

          13. Patrick says:

            JoeM: I thing you are ****ing with me. I’m done.

          14. Joe M says:

            I assure you that I am being sincere. What’s wrong with asking you to clarify what your point is? It’s really not clear.

          15. Marvin Derks says:

            Simply because it takes a male sperm and a female egg to create birth does not imply that we are born with the right to have a mother and a father raise us. That right simply does not exist. That right will never exist. We do not deserve a mother and a father. We get what we get.

          16. Patrick says:

            This is such a good point and I’d really like to hear it further explored. Sure, it’s unpleasant and we’d all like to believe in a better world, but when people say every child has the right to be raised by both a mother and a father who are married to each other, what can that really mean? Where does this “right” come from and why? Do they mean this isa basic human right like the right to control my own body, or the right not be enslaved? I just don’t see the logic behind the statement, which is a bald conclusion as opposed to an argument or an explanation. Believe me, if it were true, that would be fine because I’m sure many kids would fare better in the world, but I fear Derks’ statement is the honest truth: we get what we get. We can and should create laws to make lives better for children, but to start that conversation with the statement that every child has a basic human right to be raised in the household of his male and female parents who are married to each other is starting at the end.

          17. Marvin Derks says:

            Patrick, a human “right” never involves another person in the equation. As an example, we don’t have the right to get married. Marriage involves 2 people. If I have a right to get married then I’m obligating someone to marry me and thus taking their right away. Health care is not a right because in order to receive health care, I need a health care provider. Therefore, getting married and getting health care are privileges and not rights. We also don’t have the right to have children for the same reason; because it takes 2 people. If I have the right to have children then I’m obligating someone to procreate with me. I hope that helps.

          18. Patrick says:

            It helps and makes sense but, with respect, what’s the authority for this statement? I doubt it’s your personal opinion and I know its not law, but it sure makes sense. Where’s it from? It supports the contention made earlier that, as much as we wish for the contrary, I do not have a “human right” to be raised by both a mother and a father who are married to each other. But to say that a woman does not have a human right to procreate because to do so would require a romp in the hay from a willing male, seems farfetched to me. LMK. P.

          19. Marvin Derks says:

            Let’s say there’s a woman who wants to have a baby and there are no men in the entire world who are interested in “assisting” her and there are no sperm banks willing to sell her sperm. Has her rights been taken away? No, because she does not have the right to have a baby. The same is true for a man. Having a baby is a privilege. It involves two people and mutual consent. In other words, it involves more than one person and therefore is not a right.

          20. Patrick says:

            Makes sense. Thanks. Any citations or source materials? I’m not challenging you reasoning, I’d just like to read more on the topic. Thx

          21. Greg B. says:

            I’ll add that the ability to have sexual intercourse does not magically make one fit for parenthood.

          22. Greg B. says:

            Gay people will continue to raise children with or without your approval. Civil marriage for gay couples will provide important legal protections for those families, for those children. Putting up a road block between those families and the legal protections of civil marriage will not make those families go away, it’s simply a mean sprited way of using the law to inflict harm upon them.

        2. abadilla says:

          I agree.

        3. Marvin Derks says:

          It may be “best” for a child to be raised by a man and a woman but what’s “best” is not a determination of what a human right is. The two concepts are independent of each other.

    3. Greg B. says:

      Until you’re advocating for a constitutional amendment to ban people who are unable to provide adequate parenting to a child from marrying, your argument is suspect.

  4. “After same-sex marriage was legislated in Spain in 2005, marriage rates plummeted.” This is the very definition of logical fallacy. Though it pretty fairly represents the actual academic and intellectual rigor of their arguments. Quite sad.

    1. Philip D. says:

      It’s not only a logical fallacy, it’s an outright lie. And then we wonder why people want to label the Catholic Church as a hate group? Hmmm. Perhaps because “catholic” groups spend an awful lot of time lying about gay people these days in order to ban them from civil marriage.


        1. Philip D. says:

          I am a catholic, so your judgement is completely misplaced.

    2. Sean Ahern says:

      Um, the definition of a logical fallacy is that a true antecedent is rendered false through an incorrect sequence of statements. See for reference. How is it a logical fallacy to observe that, subsequent to a change in the definition of marriage, the marriage rates decreased? Whether or not the statement is true or false is a different thing that claiming that the statement is logically flawed.

      Can you also clarify who the object of the pronoun “their” is in your comment, Brad? I’m not sure whose rigor you are criticizing.

      1. Philip D. says:

        Because the text actually said “marriage rates plummeted” which is not the case. Marriage rates in Spain had been geadually declining for decades before gay marriage was made legal and following the enactment of gay marriage the marriage rates actually defined LESS than in previous years. So the statement that marriage rates suddenly “plummeted” following the enactment of gay marriage is utterly false. If anything, gay marriage actually helped improve marriage rates in Spain.

        For an example closer to home, check out Massachusetts, which has improved their marriage rates since gays were allowed to get married, has lowered their divorce rate since gays have been allows to marry, and has lowered bullying and teenage suicide due to sexual orientation discrimination following the legalization of gay marriage. Based on available evidence, it appears that gay marriage actually improves not only the lives of the people that are allowed to marry, but also improves society at large.

        Stop listening to the BS that is thrown at you by anti-gay activists.

        1. Patrick says:

          Philip please keep facts out of this discussion. 😉

        2. Sean Ahern says:

          Ah, so the statement was false and was not a logically fallacy. Thanks for correcting that.

          1. Patrick says:

            Oy, again with pedantics, Sean? Its the mark of a mind that is all form and no substance.

      2. Sean, perhaps if you’d spent a little less time on wikipedia and a bit more time reading actual books, you’d discover that the claim I highlight is a classic fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc. The phrase is latin, but it describes the presumption of causation simply do to a correlation of timing. The fact that Notre Dame beat USC after President Obama was reelected doesn’t mean that one caused the other. See how that works?

  5. Philip D. says:

    Banning gay couples from getting a marriage license (and the legal protections that it brings for their families) from the government clerk at City Hall does not help “support traditional marriage”. It does eliminate religious freedoms for people of other faiths that support and welcome gay marriage.

    1. Our dear Lord Jesus Christ made Marriage what it should be. A Man marring a woman for companionship and for them to give and to forgive forever. Don’t you know that they had gays in that day too? And they had prostitutes too. The Lord Jesus Christ Loved Mary Magdalene because she saw what she was and He still loved her and when she was sorry for all of her sins she went to this dinner and she cried at His feet and wiped her tears with her hair and anointed his feet with her expensive perfume. Now I do not think that Mary Magdalene ever went to bed with another man for the rest of her natural life. Because she was in love with the God that created her.

  6. Patrick says:

    “Marriage is simply an intense emotional bond?” That’s not what marriage equality proponents say. They say, consistent with most state laws, that marriage = a commitment to another person, whereas the religious right says that marriage=parenting. The only significant non-religious argument against gay marriage is the argument that says a gay man is not meant to fulfill his nature as a gay man by committing himself to another gay man. And I maintain that IS a religious argument.

    1. Brandon Vogt says:

      Patrick, thanks for the comment! If you believe that marriage is merely “a commitment to another person,” then I have three follow-up questions:

      1. Why restrict marriage, then, to just two committed people?

      2. Would you consider two celibate monks, a grandmother and her adult grandchild, or two nonsexual roommates “married”? Even if they were “committed” to each other? If they aren’t married, why not?

      3. What principled interest does the government have in regulating or promoting that type of relationship?


      1. Patrick says:

        Brandon, the question is gay marriage, not polygamy. The fact that you are trying to change the question indicates to me that you just dont like the asnwer. If you MUSt ahve my argument against polygamy, fine, I subscribe to the view that polygamy is bad social policy for exactly the reason gay marriage is good social policy: everyone should have the opportunity to marry. Broad access to marriage is important not only for individual well being but for social stability. And, to oversimplify only a little, when one man gets two wives, some other man gets no wife. And that doesn’t even address the inequality, in fact, subjugation attendant to polygamous marriages.
        The rest of your post is silly.
        The question is solely about Bill and Bob and whether they should be denied a license that we give to Jim and Sally.

        1. If a man can have multiple wives and a woman can have multiple husbands, why do they necessarily have to be exclusive states? Why does a second wife of a man have to be married only to that man and not to another at the same time? I don’t feel that your argument stands up based on this question and I further fail to see how traditional marriage prevents anyone from marrying: plenty of gay men have married straight women.

          1. Patrick says:

            Oy vey.

        2. I have known a few people in polyamorous relationships, usually triads, and I fail to see any difference between their relationships and any loving gay relationship except one: their relationship includes another person. If they are all three devoted and committed to one another, why shouldn’t they receive the same marriage rights as gay couples? Your claim that Brandon is changing the question suggests that there is a drastic difference between the two situations, but you do not describe or define this difference. Please explain!!

          Your post also fails to address same-sex polyamorous relationships (like the three women I knew) and implies that someone marrying two people takes the second one off the market for someone else. That same logic applies to gay marriage: when a man marries a man, he deprives a woman somewhere of a husband. Since the logic applies equally well to gay couples and polygamy, I find myself asking once again what is the great difference between these two arrangements? Why, when we are discussing one, shouldn’t the other come up?

          1. Patrick says:

            Kelsey, if you think our marriage laws should be modified to allow for polyamorous relationships then you should petition for that change. I think it’s a red herring, I think polygamy is bad, I’ve stated so, and I will not engage further on what I believe to be an attempt at diversion from the narrow question before our country.

          2. Sean Ahern says:

            But that’s where much of the difference in this debate lies. If there is a movement to redefine marriage, is it not appropriate to ask about the basis of that redefinition? If the redefinition is based upon the premise that it is wrong to allow people to enter into a certain legal relationship with each other, then surely we should explore the bounds of that premise.

            I have heard some proponents of gay marriage take this to its logical extreme, saying that there is no reason that polyamorous relationships should be denied, that this is a violation of civil rights. Same thing with brother/sister and other close relations. Given that the proponents have brought this up in other venues, I do not consider the discussion to be a “red herring.”

          3. Patrick says:

            You’re wrong. Red herring. Distraction. Won’t work. Back to the issue at hand….

          4. Patrick, that isn’t what I said. I asked what the difference is between gay marriage and polygamy. Why is one acceptable and the other not? You still haven’t answered that question.

          5. Greg B. says:

            What’s the difference between a man with one wife and a man with three wives? If you can answer that question, then you can answer the one you posed to Patrick.

      2. Philip D. says:

        Here are the traditional wedding vows that couples have repeated to each other for many generations:

        I take you “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”

        Now, which part if those vows is a loving gay couple that wants to make a lifelong commitment to one another unable to fulfill?

    2. Sean Ahern says:

      Please be more specific. A commitment to another person is a contract, not a marriage. A marriage includes a contract, but is clearly more than that. Please define what you mean by “marriage.”

      1. Patrick says:

        No. I kind of like boiling it down to one word even if just for the academic exercise of it. If I had to pick one word to define the essence of marriage I would pick “committment.” You can’t have civil marriage without it. What word would you pick if you were limited to one? “Children?” Alas, that’s not what our laws hold.

        1. Sean Ahern says:

          I still posit that the word ‘commitment’ is severely too broad and imprecise a term. If you’re going to say that a marriage is simply when one individual makes a commitment to another, then employment is a marriage, a student loan is a marriage, and purchasing a sandwich is a marriage. Such a definition is so broad as to be without meaning. Clearly, you can’t have civil marriage without a commitment, but marriage is something more than merely a commitment. I ask you again to clarify what you mean by marriage as distinct from all other forms of commitment.

          1. Patrick says:

            Let’s let the courts interpret what marriage is. That’s their job. And of course the word “committment” is too broad. And limiting marriage to opposite gender couples is too narrow. By your statement, I take it you agree you agree that the essence of marriage is committment, and not child-rearing.

          2. Sean Ahern says:

            I haven’t really said anything about my views, and I’m not sure they pertain to this particular thread. I was simply seeking understanding of your original comment at the top. I am still seeking understanding, as your third sentence, “[Marriage equality proponents] say, consistent with most state laws, that marriage = a commitment to another person,” is still lacking much meaning. As the specific meaning of marriage is distinctly what this article and debate are about, it’s particularly important to be precise in our terms here. Sorry for my pedantry, but I’ve found that these discussions often completely fall apart on such matters.

        2. Deker71 says:

          Procreation or children are the key. “Commitment” is not unique to marriage. Lots of other social institutions require commitment. You don’t need marriage for that. The natural law holds that children are unique to marriage.

          1. Patrick says:

            Then why do all my rights and obligations as a married person kick in on the day of my marriage and end one year later on the day of my divorce and then kick in again 2 years later at my second marriage and end again on the day of my second wife’s death, and then kick in again on the day of my third marriage and end on the day of that divorce, all regardless of whether any children are born to me or adopted by me before, during, or after any of those marriages. Similarly, why are do my rights and obligations as a parent kick in at the day of birth or adoption, regardless of my martal status? Answer: because the law treats those 2 institutions separately, and they are not dependent upon each other.

          2. Deker71 says:

            Because having and wanting children is the ultimate expression of love and union in a marriage – it makes the couple one. Without children marriage becomes a contract that is easily dissolvable.

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