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Just what does 'marriage' mean, anyway?

Posted: March 21, 2013 - 9:01am

The ongoing struggle for marriage expansionism has reached a pivotal juncture. The litigation surrounding California’s Proposition 8 has the potential to decide, as a matter of constitutional law, whether states possess the authority to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman.

Unfortunately, many have misconstrued Proposition 8 as an outright “ban on ‘gay marriage.’” In fact, Proposition 8 does no such thing. Rather, as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledges in its majority opinion, “Proposition 8’s only effect was to take away (from same sex couples) that important and legally significant designation (of ‘marriage’), while leaving in place all of its incidents.” Thus, same sex couples in California can, regardless of Proposition 8, enjoy all the legal benefits (all the “incidents” if you will) of marriage as provided under California law.

Understanding the actual effect of Proposition 8 is important because it brings into focus the fundamental question underlying the entire debate; namely, what is “marriage”? Is “marriage” just a word – its definition subject to the arbitrary whim of any given generation’s voguish fancy – or does it possess a definite meaning, derived from observable consequences borne out by our participation in an independent and objective reality? Even so, can the “state of marriage” exist independently of its title?

It’s easy to critique this line of questioning as inherently unproductive. Indeed, why delve into normative issues when deciding what is, in the strictest sense, a legal question? But a cruel irony accompanies any presupposition that the litigation over Proposition 8 is strictly legal. This is especially true in light of the fact that marriage expansionists seek the title “marriage” for the word’s normative power of legitimization. It’s not enough that same sex partners in California can enjoy all the legal “incidents” of marriage; they must be afforded the title as well.

For some, “gay marriage” doesn’t exist without the title “marriage”, even if the relationship is, legally speaking, recognized and state sanctioned to the fullest extent. Somehow there is something extra, something special about the word “marriage” that goes beyond the legality of its benefits, and it is something that same sex couples are compelled to possess.

Even the 9th Circuit speaks of “that important and legally significant designation”, as if the word “marriage” alone somehow possesses something beyond the legal powers, rights, and opportunities afforded by its “incidents”. But what, legally speaking, does that entail? What legal power does the word “marriage” possess unto itself so as to implicate the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause when states define it a certain way? So far, no one has been able to say with any legal specificity. It just does!

What is apparent, however, is that marriage expansionists are endeavoring to use a non-normative means to acquire for themselves the normative, legitimizing force of “marriage” without having to accept the totality of its normative meaning (which includes the definitional element of: “a union between one man and one woman”).

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DavidHarding 03/21/13 - 08:59 pm
So let me get this straight ...

You're saying that for all intent and purpose gays have all the legal trappings of marriage, so why do they insist on having their unions titled as marriage as well? If this is all true why would anyone insist that they can't use that terminology?

If my neighbors are gay, and have 2.4 children as I do, live in a one or two income household as I do, pay taxes as I do, get the same benefits as I do, do the same work as I do, support the community as I do, what does it say about me if I refuse to recognise that what they have in a partnership is any different than what my wife and I share? Including calling it a marriage?

The sad reality is that as of yet they do not get the same things afforded to them that I do, and they never will while someone tries to deny them the seemingly insignificant right to call themselves married.

radiokenai 03/25/13 - 08:20 am
First it is this...then it is that....


It is a little word, way too often overlooked these days by our next generation of spoiled, snotty brats....MORALITY!

Now, in a Religious Stand Point, there is no question about what the definition of "Marriage" is. But due to the corrupt interpretation of Mans view of what the Bible says, we now have Gays and Crackheads trying to twist around what the Bible says (or outright ignore it).

All will find out the truth one day.

Until then, we as a society, determine what Morality really is.

First it starts with Gays demanding their identity, then their rights, then their books and ideals in schools, then their TV Shows and Religion, then their entitlements and benefits, then marriage and then....who knows, if we continue to let deviency become the norm, who is to say some gay weirdo won't try to Marry his favorite Goat and demand all the benefits thereof?

After all, as you say, "What is Marriage?"

Personally, I don't want a bunch of queers parading down the road, insulting Gods Promise Sign (the Rainbow), and trying to influence my kids to believe gay is is not.

How do I know? Because God said so!

How would you like some sexually devient pervert trying to wave his banner that molesting your child is ok? I bet you would scream foul at the top of your lungs wouldn't you?

Norseman 03/25/13 - 12:43 pm
rush limbaugh

"We've arrived at a point where the President of the USA is going to lead a war on the sancitity of traditional marriage," Rush Limbaugh said on his show last wednesday.

His first, second, third, and fourth wives could not be reached for comment.

If 2 people want to get married I say let em. What the sam heck does it hurt you or anyone? Undermine traditional marriage? Yea right, just look at the divorce rate and that should about sum it up.

Raoulduke 03/25/13 - 02:02 pm

Would you like to be told .Who to love,and who you can,or cannot marry?LIFE,LIBERTY,and the PURSUIT of HAPPINESS applies to ALL citizen's. Not just heterosexual's.We now have gays serving openly in the armed forces.I believe.We always had.We had an openly gay general serving during the Revolutionary War.Statistics show.When watching an NFL game. 3 out of the 22 on the field are gay. My question to the ones who have homophobia.Why? Do you have a deep secret? If not.It should make no difference to you. Remember! So far the pedophiles that have been arrested in this state.Have been heterosexuals.Think on that one.

LaFern 03/25/13 - 05:30 pm

In homophobia's dying days, homophobes abandon outright hateful/religious-bent reasons for denying equal rights in favor of disguising hate in a sea of legal mumbo-jumbo.

Basically, this author is saying "Gays aren't normal because legal issues are confusing for me! Gays are confusing! Make them go away because I'm confused!" A 3 year old's tantrum, if you ask me.

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