There is much debate of late as to who is patent holder on term ‘Marriage’. Conservative heterosexual monogamists have put their moral stake in ground claiming that 'Marriage' is their intellectual property. The proponents of a traditional definition can be subdivided into religious, who claim divine rights to word, and traditionalists that appeal to naturalistic fallacy that definition is as it ought to be, proven and tested by time.
First, let us set things straight. What is traditional definition of marriage? The short answer is: one woman, one man, for life. Yet, is this definition that both proponents of traditional definition truly espouse?
Those religiously minded who claim a divine definition for marriage point you conveniently to Bible. Yet, weren’t many of biblical greats polygamists?! Clearly some historical modification of this divine lexicon has occurred.
The traditionalists have also modified matrimonial definitions over time. As recently as 1997, Ireland legalized divorce, reducing certainty of ‘for life’ part of definition. Throughout most of recorded history, divorce was simply, ‘not an option’ yet it seems that societal needs have forced us to alter that definition.
So what proponents of a traditional definition of marriage present as an immutable and timeless definition, turns out, upon closer inspection to be a shifting definition which is a product of defining times.
Having knocked moral ascendancy of conservatives down a peg, we move on to possible solutions to this problem. Most people believe in homosexual marriage-style rights, leaving word used to describe this solution as only sticking point to be debated. They turn to homosexuals and say: what’s in a name? Wouldn’t ‘a marriage by any other name be as sweet?’ They give them rights but just wish that they’d stay out of their lexical backyard.
Same sex marriage proponents contend this would be tantamount to tenets ‘different but equal’ and point back to inequalities such thinking created in civil rights history. While they have a point on this issue, I believe that semantic battle for word ‘marriage’ is a bid to gain popular acceptance and I believe that their opponents see it as such. I would like to see advocates for broadened definitions of marriage speak to why homosexuality should be accepted in general. In dealing with issues at core of debate they have best chances of evoking understanding, hence change.
The main points at core of debate as to whether to accept homosexuality are: 1) is it natural 2) is it evil and 3) is it a choice or endemic? We’ll examine each point in turn.
First what is natural? There are two aspects to natural, first examples taken from nature around us and next notion that way things are, even in human (not natural) world are 'natural' way they should be. Looking to nature we see some examples of heterosexual monogamy in say, Bald Eagle. However, more often we see examples of harems (polygamy) and loose monogamy (infidelity, or pair bonding for only a few mating seasons). While traditional definition of marriage does exist in animal kingdom, it is a minority player amongst many other definitions of bonding. Further, in nature we see examples of homosexuality amongst, say, male mice who often make female sexual displays in high population densities. Thus to say that heterosexual monogamy is nature's way is tunnel sighted and uninformed.
Next we look to idea that homosexual marriage is not natural since heterosexual definition has been prevailing one across centuries. This is a classic example of naturalistic fallacy which says that way things are, is way things ought to be. If we subscribe to belief that way things are is way things they ought to be then we are forced to conclude that world we currently live in cannot, and/or should not, be improved upon or changed in any way. Imagine if we all had subscribed to this belief, as many did, when it came time to review our ways in face of slavery. Imagine again telling many suffering couples that they were stuck together for life because definition of marriage was way it was meant to be. Yet today we tell homosexuals that marriage is as it ought to be and if you want your rights, well then fine, but go do it on another page of dictionary please. If we want rights of deep, fulfilling, long term relationships to be extended to all humanity, heterosexuals must not drink stupefying elixir of a ‘natural’ definition of marriage, because no such definition exists.