Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gay Marriage: The Myth of Governmental Neutrality

Often, when the topic of homosexual marriage comes up, there is an argument raised that suggests that even if we think marriage is between one man and one woman, we should not force our morality on others who disagree. The government, it is declared, should be neutral.

Now if we really spell this out, it quickly becomes apparent that governmental neutrality on this issue is impossible. The argument is essentially saying that since the government should be neutral, it should recognize, validate, and honor marriages between same-sex couples. But is a government that recognizes, validates, and honors same-sex marriages really neutral? Of course not, it is saying that same-sex marriages are valid, and if anyone refuses to recognize them the courts will step in to make sure that they do. In reality, the moral acceptance of gay marriage will be forced on people with differing moral views; the very thing that those who make this argument say the government should not do.

The crux of the argument is that the government should be neutral on controversial moral issues, but the absurdity of this becomes clear when we understand that the idea that “the state should be neutral on controversial moral issues,” is itself a controversial moral issue. Not everyone agrees with this. This would mean that the government should be neutral on whether it should be neutral or not, which is an absurd impossibility. Just like the idea that the government should be neutral on homosexual marriage.

Doug Eaton

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At Saturday, October 25, 2008 9:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The present system actually takes a moral position that marriage must only be between a man and woman and that this must continue to go unchallenged and continue to be enforced on all people even if there are people who would want marriage to be between people of the same gender. A neutral government would actually need to recognize that its religious roots must become open to revision so that new definitions of "marriage" and "family" could be made so that all people, not just heterosexuals, may have equal rights.

At Saturday, October 25, 2008 3:00:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...


That is a very wise comment. The problem is if you throw out a religious founding for morality you then only have a relativistic ethic. The problem with relativistic ethics is that they always end up being self-refuting which leaves those who want to change the definition of marraige with no real ethic to say that the current one is wrong. In the end it all boils down to who has the power.

You are correct though, if someone actually wants to make an argument for a new definition of marriage they will need to stop appealing to governmental neutrality which is absurd and quit begging the question by appealing to equality.

I appreciate your clear logic in understanding the need for better arguments though.



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