By Andrew Tsou
What’s there to be controversial? One position opens itself to charges of discrimination and homophobia, whilst the other is viewed as an attack on “traditional values” and other such lofty notions. None of these are particularly absolute or necessarily logical dismissals of an idea. They merely appeal to values that one may or may not hold, without containing any particular arguments for either position.
Not being a religious scholar by any means, I cannot say if there are any major religions which actively permit or encourage homosexual marriage; by the general opinions that appear to circulate within various religious communities, however, this sort of process is frowned upon. Presumably, then, most, if not all, homosexual couples who wish to be wed possess this desire for a non-religious reason.
Continuing to admit a degree of ignorance in this arena, it seems as if one popular argument against gay marriage involves the curious notion that this will destroy the institution of marriage. Shockingly high divorce rates (“shocking” if one assumes divorce to be “bad” and/or rare , for according to www.divorcerate.org, 50 percent of American marriages end in divorce, which should presumably be a cause of greater alarm than more people wanting to marry) and the increasing number of couples in marriage counseling suggest that marriage, as is popularly practiced today, is already in peril of being…what, exactly? Less than a means of ensuring a couple’s happiness?
This is a rather dubious position, if one considers the view that marriage is perhaps a cop-out. It effectively “forces” couples to stay together (or at least it did before divorce became a norm, not a taboo). On the other hand, couples who stay together without any religious or legal contracts binding them presumably decide to remain a couple for other reasons, reasons that have to do with genuine love and commitment.
Indeed, the axiom that marriage is the ultimate act of love…is not true. According to an article at www.psychologytoday.com, marriage was historically used for basically all means except affections between the two parties.
Also consider that any notion of marriage as being a “sacred” institution slowly degraded by the United States’ slow moral decline since the 1960’s (ahem) is demolished when one considers the high divorce rates in even ancient Roman times (http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/ATLAS_EN/html/history_of_marriage_in_western.html).
There is a point here, albeit one that required a certain amount of preliminary groundwork, and the solution seems simple to this writer: eliminate the legal institution of marriage.
This isn’t quite as ridiculous as it might appear. Religious marriages would, of course, still be permitted. If someone’s religion demands that they marry a person before procreating with them, this practice will not be denied (though it will not be endorsed either). This should satisfy those of a religious bent, as it will restore the institution of marriage to their respective churches, where (I’ve been told), marriage began. Any claims that traditional marriage values are under attack, then, revert to the institutions which permitted those marriages, i.e., the churches.
Also, consider the benefits on a financial level; there would be no costly weddings or divorces for people to go through. Any financial incentives to get or remain married would be eliminated (health care is probably the most potent example).
As for the issue of gay marriage…well, it would become a moot issue, wouldn’t it? It would come down to the couple in question and their religion(s), and the government and the public at large need not be concerned with such matters.