Research Paper: Bad Effect About Same Sex Marriage

Pages: 5 (1718 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Homosexuality and the Conservative Mind, Stephen Macedo outlines his views on the debate about same sex marriage. He takes a position in favor of allowing same sex marriage, and seeks to support his position with philosophy and the concept of new natural law. He first outlines his underlying assumptions. The first is that the conduct of individuals in their private lives is not relevant for public discussion. The law, however, should "supervise the public realm or environment." It is the responsibility of society as a whole, then, to educate people with respect to what constitutes morally acceptable lives. He grants under this, however, that some people are naturally gay.

Macedo's approach to argument is that he concedes multiple points to his "conservative" opposition -- which remains ill-defined -- in the hopes of demonstrating that accepting equal rights within the public realm for gays and lesbians "does not require that we scrap the whole of traditional morality." His point, however, is that "blanket condemnations of homosexual conduct" are puzzling and illegitimate. He cites the fallacy of conservatives that links the behaviors of some homosexuals with the behaviors of all, which is a fair point -- such an argument is illegitimate.

He outlines some of his new natural law theory as a means to frame homosexuality within the broader context of human sexuality. In this, he touches subjects like masturbation, and examines the issue of "fornication," being sex not related to procreation, both of which he broadly finds to be immoral. He does, however, call out the fallacy of excluding one minority from group embracing their sexuality while allowing heterosexuals no such limitations. While some ultraconservatives will express that no sex should exist without the intent of procreation, that view is not held by the majority of those who would stand opposed to same sex marriage. Moreover, this conflates the entire idea of same sex marriage with homosexual acts. The two are not the same, as Macedo himself pointed out earlier in his essay. Homosexual acts are private, same sex marriage is in the pubic realm, and therefore governed by law.

Macedo goes on to criticize further double standards in new natural law. In his arguments, he loses track of the original point. New natural law concerns the private matters of sex, and the morality thereof. This is not to be confused with marriage, a matter of public law, that describes the benefits allotted to same sex partners as equivalent to the legal and taxation benefits of those in similarly-structured heterosexual unions. The morality of such unions, which is always in the eye of the beholder, is not relevant. This is a point that Macedo could have addressed more effectively, because the laws of the land are not based on "new natural law." The entire discussion of this philosophical construct is a straw man -- arguments for and against same sex marriage are varied. If Macedo can effectively tear apart the legitimacy of new natural law, that is good for him, but does not have an effect on the argument as a whole. The legitimacy of claims for those who oppose same sex marriage is not based on the legitimacy of a singular conceptual framework within that opposition -- Macedo is attacking one element of a broad and complex argument. Even if he succeeds -- and he does not seem to make a good showing here -- he has proved nothing and done no meaningful damage to the views of his opposition. This is the weakness of relying on a straw man, and one that is only tangentially related to the issue of same sex marriage. In truth, new natural law is not something with which Macedo's opponents would be familiar.

Thus, while he identifies that the arguments deriving from the philosophy of new natural law are inconsistent and overtly flawed, he presents no comprehensive case in favor of same sex marriage. He argues that it should be allowed, if we as a society are to be consistent in the application of our moral standards, but even that rings hollow. A society takes each issue individually when making laws, and does not base them on arcane philosophies but rather the will of the populace at large. His closing arguments do not flow from his discussion of new natural law, however, but makes the false analogy between Jews and homosexuals with respect to "an irrational fear and loathing of a group that has been subjected to discrimination. This is an entirely different argument, but one that actually counteracts democracy. The will of the people, even when some might find it repugnant, is still the will of the people. It is not for the minority to impose its will on the majority, for that is entirely against the principles of democracy.

In this, it is clear that Macedo makes an unconvincing case that does not speak to democratic tradition. He is not wrong in wanting public law to reflect fact and reason, but he does not support his points with fact and reason. Instead, he only offers a philosophical dialogue with long-dead thinkers whose ideas are unknown in this debate. That is not convincing and seems not to lack on the fundamentals of democracy either.

The second essay, Neutrality, Equality and "Same-sex marriage" by Robert P. George, also stands in favor of same sex marriage. George rests his position in the idea that neutrality is important in setting out laws for the public realm. He does, however, tread dangerously close to committing a continuum fallacy. He points out that there is no precise moment of neutrality, so that invalidates the entire concept of neutrality. This is not a logically sound argument, and he should have simply been willing to accept that trending towards neutrality is the best we can offer. He fails, however, to make the effective case that we should even try for neutrality.

To do that would have been to make the case that neutrality in law is actually desirable. If the pro-side of the same sex marriage debate rests on the idea that there is moral and social rightness in neutrality, but that neutrality does not exist, then certainly moral and social rightness cannot exist either. George argues that it is incorrect to rest the case for same sex marriage on the double standards that exist between homosexual acts and non-procreative sexual acts. George instead takes the view sexual acts should be procreative in nature, pontificating at length on penises and at depth about vaginas, and invokes philosophers like Rawls into the argument as well.

The appeal to equality, which is an element of Macedo's argument, is that one should not embody "the moral judgment that marriage is inherently heterosexual," but should seek an egalitarian view that is willing to recognize that there are inherent differences between same sex marriage and traditional marriage. One's views on same sex marriage, therefore, need not be tied to one's acceptance of same sex marriage as a whole. The morality of same sex marriage need not be tied to its legality.

Where George's argument goes off the rails is when he begins his conclusion by randomly stating that "there are more freethinking liberals who do not [disapprove of polygamy, promiscuity, open marriages, anonymous sex and sex with animals]." Shortly thereafter launching into this journey down the slippery slope, he then accuses Macedo of falling "back on stereotypes of [his] critics as bigots who foster discrimination against their fellow citizens and seek to deny them equality." While embarking on this exercise in cognitive dissonance, George fails to reiterate support for his initial stance in favor of amending laws to accommodate same sex marriage, a point he never really supported anywhere in his essay. George believes what he believes, even though the points he makes in his rhetoric run counter to those beliefs. This is, nevertheless a somewhat democratic approach to the question, relating the same sex marriage debate to the direction in which society should go, something that ultimately is part and parcel with modern democracy.

Of the two authors, I find the arguments of neither particularly compelling. George is arguably the stronger of the two, but they both suffer from a certain amount of cognitive dissonance wherein their argue many different things that are unrelated to the issue, or tangentially related at best. Worse, neither writer seems to want to take a strong stand. If the idea of the essays was to illustrate a thought pathway that leads to a conclusion, neither was effective. Neither made much of a case for democracy and it did not appear that democracy as such played a role in the analysis of either author.

I, for one, am against same sex marriage. I have the courage to be honest about my beliefs -- I do not like homosexuals. I feel no need to cloak my views in high-minded rhetoric and philosophical musings. The thing is, that is entirely my right. Some may choose to base their views… [END OF PREVIEW]

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