Here is another one of my posts on gay marriage from the old JRE blog. That was a very hot issue to discuss. I posted this one on November 09, 2003:
See also here: http://sciencepolitics.blogspot.com/2004/08/definition-semantics-and-future-of.html
for more on the topic. After reading and thinking a lot about this topic, I am not so sure I would sign these posts today. I am in the process of changing my mind on this.
Hmmmm....What follows are MY thoughts and not neccessarily something that Edwards agrees on, i.e., I am writing for myself and not as an Edwards supporter right now. The thousand provisions in various laws are not favoring just hetero- over homo-sexual marriage. It also favores a particular, narrowly defined type of relationship over all others, including over living alone. That narrow definition of marriage contains several criteria: 1) church-sanctioned, 2) state-sanctioned, 3) monogamous, 4) exclusive, 5) heterosexual, 6) fertile, 7) indefinite (till death do us part). Roots of these criteria are complex: biological, historical, social, religious, political and economic. Recent book by Laura Kipnis "Against Love", although brilliantly-written and very thought provoking, is deficient because it stresses the economic and ignores other factors. Vast increase in life-span, invention of contraceptives, cures for most STDs, gender equality, increasing secularity, as well as economic forces are making the 7 criteria obsolete, whether you like it or not. Marriage is not about inheritance along patriarchal line any more. It is not about the first son inheriting the family farm. With 1/4 billion people in the US now, there is a wide variety of needs and wants people have regarding relationships. Many marriages are not church-sanctioned any more. Getting hitched in the courthouse is quite acceptable these days (that was not always the case). There were always infertile couples, but only recently it has become acceptable for a couple to DECIDE not to have kids. Living together with no state sanctioning is also not a no-no any more (it is legally the same as marriage in places like Sweden). Divorce has become common-place and, although it is still set up to be costly and painful, is mostly not perceived as sin any more. Actually, serial monogamy is quickly becoming the norm. Cheating has been going on since the beginning of time, because the marriages were arranged for economic reasons, nobody expected to find love in marriage, nobody connected sex with love, so people naturally found love (with or without sex) outside of marriage. It is only in this century that we started to expect the equation marriage = love = sex to be true. Every time any of these criteria started being eroded, there was an outcry from the social conservatives, but you can not stop these changes. Gay relationships, as marriage or not, are the current fight. When that is over, just wait and see, we'll be fighting over polygamy vs. monogamy!!! I bet, within 50 years or so, the definition of marriage is going to become so vague, the variety of types of marriages and other relationships is going to be so large, and legal (financial) differences between all types of relationships erased from the books, we will not have this kind of issue to discuss at all. It will transform itself into a much broader discussion about varieties of human experience, for better or for worse, you decide.