The Right to Marry

To all/any of you Californians out there, it is imperative that you vote ‘NO’ on Proposition 8!

Donate here, whoever you are, wherever you are (if you can), to help ensure marriage equality remains in California from November 5th!

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4 responses to “The Right to Marry

  1. By taking a quick glance across the animal kingdom, it may be surprising to some to note that several species live in monogamous relationships. This phenomenon is observed in both the greater and lesser species. Surely there must be some benefit to living such a monogamous lifestyle or it would not exist. Such monogamous relationships, or marriages if you will, seem to naturally exist as if some underlying advantage could result. Evolutionary biology provides an answer to the quandary. The goal of every species is survival. The key to survival is passing on your “genes.” In order to accomplish this, a species must maximize its reproduction and maximize their offspring’s survival. Turns out, for some species the best way to accomplish this is by the father sticking around and helping the mother. Each gender of the species provides essentials of survival and thus a marriage is formed. Thus marriage can yield an evolutionary advantage. So, biologically speaking, much prior to governments issuing licenses, marriages existed to bear children and assure that genes proliferated. This type of marriage could only exist between a man and a woman. As languages evolved, English was born. The word marriage was used to define such relationships between one man and one woman. Surely, other relationships exist, many of which are full of love, but these would not be called marriage. Marriage has always described the coming together of a man and a woman to unite in love and initiate the bearing of children. Marriage is the gateway of the family. Biologically speaking, there is only one way to create offspring – this requires both a MALE and a FEMALE gamete. The implications of marriage go far beyond love. Defining marriage isn’t a task to be left to social experts, political activists or judges – The definition has been provided by nature itself and dates back to the beginning of life.

  2. Paul, why not call them marriages? They have exactly the same form as a childless heterosexual marriage, and I don’t see anybody forcing childless heterosexual couples to call their relationship something other than marriage.

    No, this is pretty much a straightforward instance of heterosexism.

  3. It’s an entertaining argument Paul, yet inherently flawed on multiple grounds. In trying to use the Darwinian theory of natural selection to argue against same-sex marriage you rely firstly on a complete misrepresentation of evolution to justify your claim, but have also completely misunderstood that marriage is a social construction, which by definition cannot be tied to evolution. As a gay man who married his partner closing in on three years ago, I’m stunned that you would describe our union as somehow lesser because it’s ‘unnatural’. I’m also sure Richard Dawkins would be flabbergasted that you would imply that same-sex marriage could undermine evolution! But let me recast this argument, so as to accurately represent the variables you have in play.

    Dawkins, perhaps the biggest Darwinian other than Darwin himself, concluded that our position as humans is unique in evolution, in that we have the ability as sentient beings to transcend the otherwise ruthless (and agenda-free) demands of evolution. Our advantage as thinking beings trumps all other evolutionary advantages throughout the animal kingdom. We can set up social structures which don’t conform to the straightforward, ruthless passing on of the genes (is that really only what heterosexual marriage is about? How tragically boring!), and indeed we should because we have the capacity for altruism.

    The selfish gene is not only about its own reproduction in only one way. It creates altruistic tendencies which through cooperation and kindness ensure the survival of the species. I am equally able to continue my genes (as gay friends of mine have done) in a same-sex relationship. In fact it is evolutionarily consistent to be doing so.

    Your conflation of monogamy with marriage also fatally undermines your argument. Monogamy might occur in the animal kingdom, but although it’s a response to selfish gene, it is merely an expression of cooperation, merely as circumstances dictate. You also ignore the frequent homosexual pair bonding also prevalent throughout the animal kingdom. True, it might gain an evolutionary advantage for some species, but to rhetorically connect it with human marriage, and then claim the latter as a result has an evolutionary advantage is a non-sequitor. As I said earlier, Dawkins identifies humankind’s thinking ability, which has us at the top of the evolutionary ladder, and unfastens us from the ruthless rigidity of natural selection. It means monogamy can be advantageous or irrelevant based on what we want rather than what our genes need. Sex exists to have children, marriage is a human, social construction used for political and social reasons, and contrary to your claim has never had a fixed meaning or expression (even with its connection to monogamy) in any society or historical period. Its norm has been heterosexual, but for social reasons rather than biological ones. Those social reasons are changing at an unprecedented pace, and same-sex marriage does not have the ability to upset the social order – it is a response to a changed social order. To suggest that it and by extension social change upset the ‘natural’ order is just willfully ignorant.

  4. Paul, I’m puzzled as to why you think same sex weddings will in anyway affect the survival of humankind?

    How can same sex marriages have any bearing on the amount of heterosexual couples marrying and their subsequent child bearing activities?

    I’m afraid your overly-wordy article tells me far more about you than it does about the history of marriage and evolution.

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