Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Law and Reality: The Problems With Trying to Redefine Marriage.

Obama’s recent statement that he believes making same sex relationships into marriage in all 50 states is a troubling one. Such a statement assumes that reality can be changed by decree. This mindset doesn’t look at the reality of what marriage is and attempt to demonstrate that a same sex relationship can fit in with the reality of what marriage is. Instead, it seeks to redefine marriage to such an extent that same sex relationships can be fit into this distorted definition.

In logic, we call that the redefinition fallacy.  It’s unethical to change the understanding of what a thing is in order to make your position look better or an opponent’s position worse (the term “homophobia” is another example of this—changing the definition of the defense of traditional marriage to make it sound like bigotry).

The problem with the approach is this: Seeking to redefine marriage to suit one’s convenience does not change the reality of what marriage is. If the law does not reflect reality, it is nothing more than the vision of one who is out of touch with reality and imposed by force. We’ve seen that all too often in the ideological dictatorships of the 20th century.

One example of this can be found in the attempt to link the defense of traditional marriage with the racial segregation laws in America. It argues that segregation forbade interracial marriage and traditional marriage forbids same sex “marriage.” Therefore the defense of marriage = segregation.

But the truth is just the opposite. Laws saying one ethnicity is inferior to another is an imposition by force of something that does not correspond to reality. The nature of a human person is not greater or lesser because of the color of his or her skin.

But, the meaning of marriage is altered by trying to redefine it to deny that the complementarity of genders is essential to marriage. So trying to equate the defense of marriage with segregation is a weak analogy fallacy. The meaning of marriage is not changed by the marriage of a black man and a white woman (or vice versa), but it is changed by the attempts to redefine it as existing between two men, two women, multiple partners, etc.

Colored drinking fountain

Likewise, there are no “Straight” and “Gay” drinking fountains. States are not attempting to prevent people with same sex attraction from voting or moving into certain neighborhoods. People with same sex attraction do not have to sit at the back of the bus or have to deal with “Straights only” restaurants. The only restriction that exists has nothing to do with thinking others are inferior and have to be kept separate. The laws defending marriage are simply saying:

“Marriage is possible only between one man and one woman in a mutually entered life long relationship which is open to the possibility of children. Any other combination is simply not a marriage no matter what you try to call it.

That’s why Obama’s invoking the “equal protection clause” of the 14th Amendment is an irrelevant appeal. The defense of marriage is not the restriction of anybody's rights.

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