It’s not often that an avowed homosexual—one who has dedicated their life to the craven and often painful act of sodomy—like me puts down their anti-hetero, baby-killing pitchfork and really considers whether same sex marriage is okay, but a letter printed in the Notre Dame/St. Mary’s College Observer by a theologian/philosopher/just an ordinary dude with opinions, “but, like, I’m not a hero or anything” has even the most experienced of catamites questioning whether gay marriage should continue to be legal.
In an editorial titled “Did Love Win?”, current student Tim Bradley asks whether allowing people of the same sex to be extended the same rights as any other couple because “love makes a marriage” will make the union as legitimate as two people of the opposite sex getting married. After all, Bradley posits, two men can love each other as brothers or as a son and father unit...does that make those two men married, too?
From Bradley’s editorial:
Those who cheered the Supreme Court’s ruling say that love makes a marriage. I’m confident that no one has ever believed that slogan as stated. The love that is shared between father and son, brother and brother or teacher and pupil is real love, and yet no one thinks that such love makes a marriage.
So, those who cheered the ruling speak of “stable, committed” relationships. But brothers and sisters love each other in a committed, stable way and no one would call them married.
To most, it seems sex has to be involved. So, if you want to be together with someone you love — and you’re having sex — you can marry, and there’s an end to it. But this will not do. If one wants to claim that love makes a marriage, or that love plus sex makes a marriage, one must identify what is distinctive of marital love and the kind of union it seeks.
Well, yes, those are certainly phrases that sound clever when you just skim over them and catch the key words, but the first problem with Bradley’s argument is the fact that any freshman who’s taken a class on contemporary sexuality knows that there are different kinds of love. Some kinds are for brothers. Some kinds are for mothers. And some are for the people you meet on Tinder and realize you have a really important connection with during netflix & chill.
But blundering his main point doesn’t dissuade Bradley from pressing on. Quickly going over the other things that make up a marriage, Bradley notes that marriage is between one man and one woman because it’s not just about love and sex but about sharing yourself completely with another person, something you can’t really do unless you’re a heterosexual couple.
Those who commit themselves to shared action toward procreation and domestic life, to the union of body and mind, commit themselves to married life. Those who dedicate themselves to other noble purposes — sisters who run an orphanage or lifelong friends who decide to share retired life together — are not married. In general, two men or two women may love each other, may desire to share all aspects of domestic life, and may make a pledge of permanent and exclusive commitment to each other. But those commitments are distinct from the marital commitment, which must include bodily union, something that unites two persons of the opposite sex (on equal terms).
Wait, so does that mean that infertile couples and those who decide not to have children are therefore not married? Because that’s exactly what that sounds like. Does that render two people who got married in a court of law (and probably before Christ and company) “just friends” if they decide to embark on an activity other than procreating and filling the world with believers?
While the rest of the editorial is worth a read—if only to remind yourself that issues of equality will not disappear as the older generations die out and more progressive minds take over— it’s interesting that Bradley is so upset that anyone might want to redefine marriage to include couples they don’t agree with that he completely ignores why gay and lesbian couples want the same rights. It’s not just because it makes our relationships legitimate (they already are), but because it allows gay couples the same tax breaks that straight couples have as well as the ability to visit their partners in the hospital and be considered next of kin for the purposes of advanced health directives. It gives them equal protection under the law. And, if Bradley’s argument that having children makes a marriage is to be considered valid, than what do you call the union of two women who have children via artificial insemination or two men who adopt? How is that any different from a straight couple who choose to use a surrogate to deliver a healthy baby unto this world? Why does the heterosexuals’ pairing make a marriage while the other examples mentioned are more akin to “two spinster sisters running an orphanage?”
If there’s anyone who’s changing the definition of marriage, it’s those people that are so against the idea of two people of the same sex claiming that word. They’re the ones who, like Bradley, are always changing the goalposts for what constitutes a “legitimate union.” And while some, like Bradley, try to hide their disgust that people whose sexual orientations differ from their own are finally being extended some of the same rights and privileges by descending into presudo-intellectual naval-gazing drivel they deem worthy of being published, their arguments continue to fall flat. Marriage, isn’t just for one man and one woman. It’s for two people who experience romantic love and/or want to step into a permanent legal arrangement that benefits both parties.
After all, what makes the marriage between two straight best friends who decide to get hitched in order to share health insurance any more legitimate than the union of two men or two women? And what if the gay couple is the only one interested in having children? Who’s married then?
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