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Posted at 10:12 AM ET, 12/ 8/2009

Marriage and natural law

By washingtonpost.com editors

By William Lloyd Stearman
North Bethesda

Getting lost in the debate over same-sex marriage in the District are the following highly relevant eternal verities:

Throughout human existence and in all cultures, marriage has been between men and women for the simple reason that marriage is essential to the propagation of the human race through a structure that creates and nourishes children and fulfills their right to benefit from the unique gifts of both a mother and a father. This most certainly is not, as same-sex marriage advocates assert, a civil rights issue.

The law that rightly bars same-sex marriages also bars marriages that fail to meet established standards for age and blood relationship. Same-sex marriages, like, for example, marriages that are incestuous, clearly contravene natural law, the foundation of civil law and of civil rights.

Indeed, such “Laws of Nature” are enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and deserve our utmost respect.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | December 8, 2009; 10:12 AM ET
Categories:  D.C., same-sex marriage  
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Comments

Stearman employs the same, tired arguments against same-sex marriage, namely textbook examples of the "appeal to tradition" fallacy (i.e. marriage should be between a man and a woman because that's how it's always been) and the "red herring" fallacy (comparing same-sex marriage to incestuous marriage).

He also employs the utterly false argument that male-female marriage is essential for the propagation of the human race. First, the ability of gay and lesbian couples -- which constitute a small fraction of all couples in America -- to marry will not end reproduction as we know it. Second, while psychologists agree that the optimal environment for a child is with his or her biological mother and father (the keyword is "biological") countless peer-reviewed scientific studies by psychologists and sociologists have shown, consistently, that gay and lesbian couples are just as capable of raising children as straight couples, and that those children end up just as well-adjusted as their counterparts raised by a biological mother and father.

Likewise, people who want same-sex marriage banned or kept illegal have yet to produce a single shred of evidence from any of the jurisdictions in which it is legal that demonstrates a clear, causal relationship between it and any of the adverse phenomena they're convinced will befall society. Observe, for example, that Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, and Arkansas banned it the same year; guess which one still has the nation's lowest divorce rate and which one's divorce rate is second only to Nevada's.

The fact that people like Stearman who make highfalutin arguments about "natural law" have managed to get their polite homophobia written into the constitutions of 30 states is a testament to the enormous power that unreason and illogic have in American society, and anybody with a modicum of intelligence should find that far more frightening than the idea of two men or two women getting married.

Posted by: james44 | December 8, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Stearman is obviously not an antropologist. It would be nice for someone to be able to back up their blanket claims with evidence. How can someone truly believe "Throughout human existence and in all cultures, marriage has been between men and women ".

It is supremely naive to assume that all cultures that have ever existed on the planet subscribe to the Judeo-Chrisitian notions of marriage. If Mr. Stearman didn't learn about the world or cultures in school and is limited by his suburban blinders, he could simply watch the Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel.

I don't recall marriage or discrimination of anyone being in the declaration of independence.

Posted by: cashink2003 | December 8, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Stearman failed to mention the obvious: that nearly as many children are born to unmarried parents today as are born to married couples. So apparently marriage is not prerequisite to bringing children into this world.

If, following this logic, marriage is solely for procreation, why are people past their childbearing years allowed to marry? Or people who do not intend to or are unable to have children?

Posted by: phil_bellerive2 | December 8, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Laws are not "natural." They are man-made, and require ethical arguments that go beyond trite observations about what is and is not consistent with "nature." Such observations can be used to support virtually any argument, after all. Human cultures and the animal kingdom are full of examples of non-monogamous and non-heterosexual mating, for example. The "laws of nature" are still poorly understood; they are also beside the point.

Posted by: TravlinMan | December 8, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure which part of the DoI Stearman thinks refers to 'laws of nature' or whatever. I refer him to this part:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created EQUAL [emphasis added], that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

So as equal persons, gays and lesbians are entitled to marriage equality.

Regardless, the United States isn't governed by the DoI – that document simply establishes the US as an independent country from England.

The US IS governed by the Constitution, which explicitly includes the following:

AMENDMENT XIV

Section 1.

... No State shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Gays and lebians are entitled by this part to equal protection of the laws and thus entitled to marriage equality.

Stearman may wish to study his civics a bit further.

Posted by: rtaylor3 | December 8, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

This is an insane cobbling of facts--twisting information together and omitting a huge amount of information.

Religion is not as old as humankind. Christianity at 2,000 years does not speak for all of human existence on the earth. With that said of course there were gay marriages.

Marriage is a political construct. Marrying for love is also new since Christianity. And marriage has evolved or else my pending wedding would not include me have a discussion with my boyfriend...but my father speaking with his family, exchanging chattel for loyalty There are some great books on same sex unions.

I cannot go into detail but look up the Theosdian Code which outlawed gay marriage . It at the very least proves there were many marriages of the type prior to that date.

Posted by: 411Tibby | December 8, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

This poor sap is from Maryland-- his backwards thinking opinion needs to stay in Maryland. He should worry about his own state and stay out of our affairs---oh and he can take that religious zealot bigot carpet bagger self appointed bishop with him!

Posted by: Aimhigh2000 | December 9, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Who the Hell let this idiot on to post his baseless drivel?

Posted by: juantana | December 9, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Please don't blame Maryland for Mr. Stearman's idiocies. We're more progressive that ante-deluvian Virginia which just elected the "Pat Robertson Candidate." If marriage is just for procreation, then we'll have to deny marriage to all infertile couples, those who've had hysterectomies for cancer, and a host of other genetic defects that makes bringing a child into the world dangerous.

As for Stearman's "throughout human existence" comment, it's obvious he never studied any cultural history. In ancient Egypt, a time contemporary with the Bible, royal brothers routinely married their full or half-sisters. Biblical patriarchs had multiple wives. And slaves. Spare us from the Bible running our civil lives in the 21st Century, please. It's a book of faith, not a manual for civic organization. In 50 years, people will look back on this era's notions against same-sex marriage as we now do on prohibitions against interracial marriage. With disbelief.

Posted by: commonsense101 | December 13, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

1) My mother died when I was very young. Am I to suppose that my father's efforts to raise me and my sister voilated my "right to benefit from the unique gifts of both a mother and a father"? Should my father have been forced to remarry, or would it have been better for us to be taken from him and placed in a "real" family? 2) We have close friends who despite their best efforts have been unable to bear children. Should their loving marriage be annulled as it contravenes natural law? 3) A distant cousin serving in Iraq during the Gluf War was injured in a vehicle accident, as a result of which she cannot bear children. Should she be barred legally from marrying? 4) Later in life, my widowed father again found love, and remarried. My stepmother is post-menopausal, so there is no chance of their having children. Should this marriage have been legally barred?

Posted by: ringtail2 | December 14, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

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