One of the more divisive moral-political issues of our time is gay marriage. Conservative Christians oppose gay marriage and are often criticized because their only reasons for doing so are biblical in nature. This rankles some people who complain that Christians want their theological views to be the foundation for civil laws. (Of course, the Judeo-Christian ethic is the foundation of many of our laws, but this fact seems lost on lots of folks these days.)
For a long time I was convinced that the only conclusive arguments against gay marriage are theological. Many have proposed philosophical arguments against gay marriage—typically utilitarian in nature—but these tend to be weak, essentially useful only as supplements to arguments from Scripture. So I set myself to the task of coming up with a strong philosophical argument (preferably non-utilitarian in nature). I think I might have accomplished just this with an argument which essentially claims that gay marriage is unjust. Here it is, for your perusal:
1. Heterosexual union is the indispensable means by which humans come into existence and therefore has special social value (indeed, the greatest possible social value because it is the first precondition for society).
2. The indispensable means by which something of special social value can occur itself has special value.
3. What has special value to human society deserves special social recognition and sanction.
4. Civil ordinances which recognize gay marriage as comparable to heterosexual marriage constitute a rejection of the special value of heterosexual unions.
5. To deny the special social value of what has special social value is unjust.
6. Therefore, gay marriage is unjust.
I have shared this argument with many of my friends and colleagues, and the criticisms have consistently missed the point—suggesting, for example, that the argument assumes that the only purpose of marriage is procreation (which it does not) or that it implies a complete denial of the civil rights of homosexuals (which, again, it does not). Still others have made the more subtle mistake of interpreting me as saying that gay marriage implies a denial of all value of heterosexual unions. Clearly, the argument does no such thing. The whole point of the argument concerns the special value of traditional marriage.
At any rate, the lack of strong objections has only strengthened my conviction that the argument is sound. Now I am curious if anyone can muster a decent criticism (without lapsing into ad hominems, emotional pleas, and other fallacies). I am also curious as to how many of you, like me, find the argument persuasive.