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Posted at 6:45 PM ET, 12/15/2009

Nothing unnatural about same-sex marriage

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Kent Jeffreys
Washington

Anyone who claims to be defending “eternal verities” by opposing same-sex marriage, as does William Lloyd Stearman, should at least get his facts straight.

First, marriage has always been a formalized method to control property and has never been “essential to the propagation of the human race.” Fertile individuals can (and do) produce plenty of offspring in the absence of legally sanctioned marriages. In contrast to “eternal verities,” the rules of marriage have always evolved along with the cultures they reflect. Consider that it is a relatively recent decision to stop husbands from treating wives as, essentially, their property. And wealthy and powerful men in many cultures have been permitted to have multiple wives — sometimes several hundred of them at a time.

Second, to cite the “laws of nature” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence as somehow banning gay marriage is a misguided appeal to authority. The very next sentence reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Any argument that the Declaration of Independence excludes gay men and lesbians from its demand for universal equality is, quite simply, unnatural.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | December 15, 2009; 6:45 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, same-sex marriage  
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Comments

Marriage was a formalized method to control property--where there was property--by producing legal heirs. Where there was no property, it was and still is a method to legally make fathers take responsibility for and support their offspring. So marriage has been very much about the propagation of the human race. As you present it, marriage also is and was a formalized method for men to control women, which is a pathetic basis on which to build your case.

If same-sex-marriage advocates think the "pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence was meant to include romantic notions of love and walking down the aisle, exchanging rings, and even holding a champagne reception, they should pursue it if they must. But though it may be legal, may even be church-sanctioned, and may have all the appearances of a marriage, it is all a charade if the principals are not a man and a woman. It's an imitation of marriage, just as it is when 6-year-olds play house. Same-sex partners can and should have civil unions and every legal benefit, and they should be satisfied with that and not try to appropriate the institution of marriage for their own unique, revolutionary, and exceptional purpose.

As for conforming to the laws of nature, a comment to William Stearman's opinion states "Human cultures and the animal kingdom are full of examples of non-monogamous and non-heterosexual mating...". There are also, in the animal kingdom, mothers who eat their young. And, closer to the question of same-sex marriage, animals that mate non-heterosexually do not marry! No one will ever convince this atheist liberal that it is natural for a man to have a husband or a woman to have a wife.

Equality means we all have the same value as human beings; it does not mean that we are, or that we should be, all the same.

Posted by: Boomerang1 | December 16, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

If all this is declared Natural then in days ahead people with these tendencies shall come up with a new idea of keeping animals as their sex partners. This is purely religious matter and the religion Christianity is not confined to only USA or some other EU countries. Moral behavior of faiths and nations are always looked upon with lot of interest. It is better not to make ourselves a Laughing Stock. First it was gay/lesbian relations, then Gay Priests and now even Gay Bishops. Where are we heading? Natural is Natural and Un-natural is Un-natural. Muslims and others are taunting us and questioning us about the teachings of Jesus Christ. God fashioned woman and man for this relation ship. It is a shameful act if it is approved by highly advanced nations who are so much revered for their wealth and advanced technology etc.

Posted by: aftab68 | December 16, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

In the Dred Scott decision, which George W. Bush approved of, Roger Tawney and the rest of the Supreme Court declared unanimously that the Declaration of Independence did not include slaves.

Assuming that it is possible to make sense of Boomerang1's comment, aging women should not get married, and couples who have not had children within a certain amount of years should have their marriages annulled, and both groups of people should be satisfied with being civilly unionated.

Aftab68 seems not to have noticed that there are a lot of people who have not gotten married in church. In terms of "unnatural," much of the opposition to same-sex marriage has been driven by people who reject all forms of sexual expression for themselves except for statutory rape.

Posted by: edallan | December 16, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

By DEFINITION marriage is between male and female. If someone is foolish enough to think it's natural for man and man or woman and woman to mate, then they are mocking nature because the "equipment" of males are made for females and visa-versa (Would you put water in your gas tank?). The emotional and hormone charactistics of male and female are also made for each other. Anybody with a brain knows that un-alike attracts. Two north poles or south poles of magnets repel. All of our electronic technological equipment works on that principle (AC circuitry & digital electronics). Gay people are going way too far trying to reverse the intent of nature. Love and commitment between the same sex is called friendship. There is no provision for mating. By the way. What are these examples of homosexual behavior in animals? I'm a big city boy and haven't been around many animals but I've NEVER observed homosexual behavior among the ones I've seen.

Posted by: wiseonesun | December 16, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I really DO NOT CARE who anyone chooses to sleep with or marry, but please don't try to tell me that when you are sleeping with/marrying someone from your same sex, or a plant, or an animal of some type that this is natural and normal behavior.
Dictionary.com defines unnatural as: –adjective 1. contrary to the laws or course of nature.
2. at variance with the character or nature of a person, animal, or plant.
3. at variance with what is normal or to be expected: the unnatural atmosphere of the place.
Quit trying to redefine "normal" or "natural" just so you can convince yourselves that you ar "normal". Being unnatural or abnormal does not make you a bad person, it just makes you different than the norm. Get over it.

Posted by: MarineCorpsDad | December 17, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I am a professional / academic anthropologist (PhD). We have known for over a century that there are innumerable cultural variations on what we in English call "marriage" (See L.H. Morgan, _Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family_ (Smithsonian, 1871). Some cultures don't even have the concept of "marriage" (see Mosuo); some cultures have a "marriage ritual" but it does not establish a residential couple (see Kathleen Gough on the Nayar). Some cultures do allow same-sex marriage or even marriage with ghosts (see Evans-Pritchard on the Nuer) [and please note that "sex" and "gender" are not the same].

Many cultures prefer cross-cousin marriage (e.g., a male's mother's brother's / father's sister's daughter); others emphasize parallel-cousins (father's brother's daughter). Some "high" cultures (Hawai'i; ancient Egypt; Inka) allowed brother-sister marriage.

"Marriage" is a cultural institution, period.

Posted by: tkavanag | December 17, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree, its not NATURAL for a man to marry a man, a woman to marry a woman. It is UNATURAL. Also, how does a Civil Society benefit from a Gay Marriage? Only homosexuals benefit from Gay Marriages. Your thoughts?

Posted by: Papasp8@yahoo.com | December 17, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Yes, "marriage has always been a formalized method to control property" but to continue that truth, it has also always been the parents and larger social class or family clan that set up the marriage.
In fact this still goes on in many countries - like India for example.

The man, woman, and expected children were all treated as property in the deal. The purpose is to protect the weath of the families over time. The arranged marriages protected property and power, and the second-tier relationships initiated by the lovers themselves was for love and procration rather than money and power. Also until recently it was traditional to have second-tier relationships, ie. "concubines" and it was the concubinage that was mainly responsible for reproduction. The first tier "spouse" was more of an authority position and did not necessarily have the children or if she did the child was the result of inbreeding to keep money in the family.

And in fact there were many many same-sex marriages historically among the more developed cultures - take for example the ancient Greeks and Romans, where same sex marriages and relations had a higher social status than opposite-sex marriage. So here we see the same pattern - same sex marriages for the authority "spouse" position, and poor women or slaves for the second-tier repoductive post.

All this started to fall apart with the French Romantic period where the youth started drinking unholy amounts of Wormwood "Absinte" and in their drunken halucinations they started threatening suicide en masse if they could not marry whoever they wanted without family interference, and that the children of these lovers whould not be bastards but rather would be heirs to the family weatlth. This was a revolution and it took a long time to catch on in many places. It wasn't until the 1960's that blacks could bet married in some parts of the old south, as black were seen as the poor and slaves who existed for the pupose of procreation on the terms of plantation owners's higher status inbred or arranged marriages for the protection of wealth - ie. concubines in the old terminology. There were same-sex marriages in the old south as well, they are still on the old books burried in the archives in courthouse basements if you can manage to read the scrips.

So as we can see this man and woman in love and having babies view of marriage is really a rather recent invention that we have drug-using Romantic French youth revolutionaries to thank for. You really can't get any less old south than that. Same sex marriage is just about as traditional as marriage gets, although there is a lot of classist and slavery-related baggage that goes along with it.

Posted by: lwatkins4 | December 18, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Given the history, it's understandable that same-sex marriage would be opposed under the new romatic view of marriage. Expecially by african americans who only recently were granted marriage under that revolution. But I think as a culture we have moved past the inbreeding, arranged marriages, and slavery. But somewhere in that fight we lost the understanding that same sex couples want to marry for more than just the protection of assets, they want to marry for love as well. They were a casualty of the romantic revolution. Why not now let them join it?

Posted by: lwatkins4 | December 18, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I believe,When OUR GREAT TRUE AMERICAN LEADERS,Wrote the constitution of the UNITED STATES,These were real men,They actually believed in GOD,They tried to protect ALL PEOPLE,From corrupt Learders,Like we have now,Just like barney franks,Who said,I quote{The Constitution is just a piece of paper to try to hold Learders Down},Back then & still is, In the BIBLE HOMOSEXUALITY,Is an OBAMANATION in his eyes,Just plain FACT!,GOD GAVE ADAM EVE!, NOT STEVE, You can not go and MULTIPLY with the same sex.I don't care what a person is or does,WE all will be judge by GOD HIMSELF,Weather you believe or not.All a person has to do is look at LOT in the Bible.

Posted by: dickiesnhogheaven | December 19, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

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