The purpose of marriage


The letter from Mr. Paul Walker which was published April 18 is chock full of inaccuracies and nonsense. Due to the limited worth length of these letters, I’ll dive right in to debunking them.

Marriage, as an institution, has existed since pre-recorded history. The initial purpose of marriage is, therefore, unknown. To claim that marriage is “based in biology, simply the merging of two individuals as one; the result is the ability to use God given power which is procreation” is hypothesizing, at best. At worst, it confuses a religious belief with the U.S. legal system.

Civil marriages are those marriages sanctioned by the state and are a legally binding contract by which those involved agree to certain obligations in exchange for certain rights. These are the only kinds of marriages that the government is involved in and the only type of marriage that is under discussion by the Supreme Court.

Religious marriages are those marriages sanctioned by one religion or another. These marriages may or may not also be sanctioned by the state, but the two are separate unions. Religious leaders are often permitted to sanction these marriages on behalf of the state, but it is not always the case. Religious marriages are wholly independent of civil marriages and conflating the issues is simply irresponsible.

Once we understand the reality that the “gay marriage” issue is really an “access to a legal contractual union” issue, all of the arguments against it simply fall away. Mr. Walker brings up that marriage has the biological purpose of replenishing the population of Earth. Clearly, this cannot be the case. Otherwise, the government would mandate that all parents be married and that those who cannot reproduce cannot get married. As Justice Kagan pointed out during the hearing, we do not require a fertility test to gain access to a marriage, nor do we prohibit marriage of those too old to reproduce. Thus, the argument for the procreative purpose is entirely irrelevant.

Since biblical arguments against same sex marriage are not applicable to the type of civil marriage which is actually being discussed, we’re left wondering what legitimate reason there is to prevent same sex couples from entering into this legal contract. Justice Sotomayor brought this very argument up asking if there was any rational basis for discrimination in other contexts. The Prop 8 lawyer agreed there was none.

Bryan J. Sebeck