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Subject: Changing the definition of marriage rss

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Chad Ellis
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One of the more common claims about extending marriage to same-sex couples is that this changes the definition of marriage and thus could have significant consequences, given the importance of marriage in our culture and family structure.

I'm genuinely curious, though...how much of a change is it?

My wife and I got married when SSM was illegal in Massachusetts. Then it became legal. Our marriage did not -- as far as I can tell -- change at all. What it means for us to be married, our legal and social obligations to each other and to our children, did not change. I honestly can't think of anything in our actual marriage that is different as a result of same-sex couples being able to marry. So what is the change?

I'm asking this sincerely -- no gotchas and I will listen carefully to anyone who cares to answer. It's clear that some people see this as a very real problem and I gather that it's not limited to religious concerns but to the role of marriage in society. I'm curious to understand more what these concerns are.
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Marriage, man and woman. I think that is most of the problem people have with the definition changing....
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TheDashi wrote:
Marriage, man and woman. I think that is most of the problem people have with the definition changing....


Marriage, two people in love.

Why is this significant?
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Geosphere wrote:
TheDashi wrote:
Marriage, man and woman. I think that is most of the problem people have with the definition changing....


Marriage, two people in love.

Why is this significant?


Because many mane many people have had the definition of marriage being between a man and a woman for over a thousand years????


Oh sorry, You are trolling me, never mind....
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Josh
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TheDashi wrote:
Marriage, man and woman. I think that is most of the problem people have with the definition changing....


It's actually 'Man and Wife' which has it's own bundle of anachronistic insecurities to go along with it.
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Shadrach wrote:
TheDashi wrote:
Marriage, man and woman. I think that is most of the problem people have with the definition changing....


It's actually 'Man and Wife' which has it's own bundle of anachronistic insecurities to go along with it.


Whine about all those implications all you want, was still a man and a woman...
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Scott Russell
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I think the biggest change is use of language. Marriage clearly used to mean one man and one woman. Going a little farther back, it meant both were unavailable for legal sexual relations with any one except their spouse. It also almost always meant that their assets were merged.

Now it means two people of unspecified gender in a contract that mingles assets to some degree and gives surviving spouse, visitation and next of kin rights to each other. So the word changed meaning.

I actually look forward to the next step of allowing group marriage contracts because that seems like it would provide the best stability for children.

My objections to not sharing a last name when marrying are similar. It just complicates discussion when there isn't one last name when referring to a family.

Both cases may have merit that outweigh the inconvenience.

On a more serious note, if the concept of marriage were completely eliminated from the legal system and replaced with a contract for all the legal stuff, how would it affect your marriage?
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Paul DeStefano
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TheDashi wrote:
Geosphere wrote:
TheDashi wrote:
Marriage, man and woman. I think that is most of the problem people have with the definition changing....


Marriage, two people in love.

Why is this significant?


Because many mane many people have had the definition of marriage being between a man and a woman for over a thousand years????


Oh sorry, You are trolling me, never mind....


For over a thousand years, we had no cars.

Things change.
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C Bazler
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TheDashi wrote:
Shadrach wrote:
TheDashi wrote:
Marriage, man and woman. I think that is most of the problem people have with the definition changing....


It's actually 'Man and Wife' which has it's own bundle of anachronistic insecurities to go along with it.


Whine about all those implications all you want, was still a man and a woman...


Or man and woman, and woman, and woman, and woman...
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qzhdad wrote:
On a more serious note, if the concept of marriage were completely eliminated from the legal system and replaced with a contract for all the legal stuff, how would it affect your marriage?


If the concept of marriage were completely eliminated from the legal system and replaced with a contract for all the legal stuff, you would just have reintroduced the concept of marriage to the legal system.
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Geosphere wrote:
TheDashi wrote:
Geosphere wrote:
TheDashi wrote:
Marriage, man and woman. I think that is most of the problem people have with the definition changing....


Marriage, two people in love.

Why is this significant?


Because many mane many people have had the definition of marriage being between a man and a woman for over a thousand years????


Oh sorry, You are trolling me, never mind....


For over a thousand years, we had no cars.

Things change.


And there are some people that are resistant to change, which is what is being said here.......
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cbazler wrote:
TheDashi wrote:
Shadrach wrote:
TheDashi wrote:
Marriage, man and woman. I think that is most of the problem people have with the definition changing....


It's actually 'Man and Wife' which has it's own bundle of anachronistic insecurities to go along with it.


Whine about all those implications all you want, was still a man and a woman...


Or man and woman, and woman, and woman, and woman...


Tell me again how that has been the majority of thinking?
Oh it hasnt.....
Just like Man and Man, and Woman and Woman, has not been the majority of thinking for a long time.
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Walker
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Generally, arguments that legalizing SSM hinge on the assumption that marriage is not just a legal contract, but something else as well. The prevailing view among advocates for SSM seems to be that the defining part of marriage is the legal contract, the agreement between two (or possibly more, I suppose) adults to enter into partnership. Thus, legalizing SSM isn't really changing the definition of marriage because the thing that marriage is primarily about- the contract- remains unchanged. In contrast, those who claim that legalizing SSM changes the definition of marriage generally hold that the contract is only a secondary thing, and that the defining aspect is something I'll term the union. In this view, the union is made up of two non-interchangeable parts consisting of a man and a woman. Under this view, then, two men or two women cannot marry each other because two men or two women cannot make the union in the way a man and a woman can. This position holds that in marriage, a man and a woman "fit together" in a way that two men or two women cannot, and that while the government can wave its hands and say "these two men are now married", they can do so only by maintaining an absurdity.

Here's an example. This is a picture of a nut and a bolt:



Let's call this a joining. Those who claim that legalizing SSM changes the definition of marriage argue that marriage is rather like this joining- by its nature, this joining can only be created by having both a nut and a bolt.

Now, of course, the government could pass a law saying that this is a joining:



Or that this is:



But in this case, advocates for traditional joining would point out that the last two pictures are really not the same thing as the first picture. You can only say that they are if you change the definition of a joining.

This is why the example you give in your post isn't very persuasive to those who say that legalizing SSM changes the definition of marriage. You stated that your duties as a married man haven't changed since SSM was legalized. No doubt that's true, just as the duty of a bolt in a joining wouldn't change if the lower two pictures were legally declared to be joinings. But it would change what everyone generally thinks of a joining as.
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C Bazler
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The definition of marriage has changed again and again countless times over history. I love it when people appeal to history, and tradition, and the "millennia-old" institution of marriage, but fail to recognize bigamy as being an incredibly common practice in that history and tradition.

A wife used to be her husband's property. Divorce used to be illegal. Some couples today sign prenuptial agreements. How has the institution not changed?

And more important, how have any of these changes affected YOUR marriage?
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Geosphere wrote:


Things change.


Yes, and not all change is good. Only the mindless embrace change cause...change.
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C Bazler
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tstone wrote:
Geosphere wrote:


Things change.


Yes, and not all change is good. Only the mindless embrace change cause...change.


And is that what you think the fight for gay marriage is about? Change for change's sake? You don't think that this might matter to millions of people who want legal protections for their families? They're just doing it "cause... change"?
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C Bazler
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twomillionbucks wrote:
Generally, arguments that legalizing SSM hinge on the assumption that marriage is not just a legal contract, but something else as well. The prevailing view among advocates for SSM seems to be that the defining part of marriage is the legal contract, the agreement between two (or possibly more, I suppose) adults to enter into partnership. Thus, legalizing SSM isn't really changing the definition of marriage because the thing that marriage is primarily about- the contract- remains unchanged. In contrast, those who claim that legalizing SSM changes the definition of marriage generally hold that the contract is only a secondary thing, and that the defining aspect is something I'll term the union. In this view, the union is made up of two non-interchangeable parts consisting of a man and a woman. Under this view, then, two men or two women cannot marry each other because two men or two women cannot make the union in the way a man and a woman can. This position holds that in marriage, a man and a woman "fit together" in a way that two men or two women cannot, and that while the government can wave its hands and say "these two men are now married", they can do so only by maintaining an absurdity.

Here's an example. This is a picture of a nut and a bolt:



Let's call this a joining. Those who claim that legalizing SSM changes the definition of marriage argue that marriage is rather like this joining- by its nature, this joining can only be created by having both a nut and a bolt.

Now, of course, the government could pass a law saying that this is a joining:



Or that this is:



But in this case, advocates for traditional joining would point out that the last two pictures are really not the same thing as the first picture. You can only say that they are if you change the definition of a joining.

This is why the example you give in your post isn't very persuasive to those who say that legalizing SSM changes the definition of marriage. You stated that your duties as a married man haven't changed since SSM was legalized. No doubt that's true, just as the duty of a bolt in a joining wouldn't change if the lower two pictures were legally declared to be joinings. But it would change what everyone generally thinks of a joining as.


People who practice gay sex have no trouble "joining," dude. Though if that is an accurate portrayal of your sex life, I feel sorry for your wife.
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Trey Stone
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cbazler wrote:
tstone wrote:
Geosphere wrote:


Things change.


Yes, and not all change is good. Only the mindless embrace change cause...change.


And is that what you think the fight for gay marriage is about? Change for change's sake? You don't think that this might matter to millions of people who want legal protections for their families? They're just doing it "cause... change"?


Those who say "we didn't have cars thousands of years" ago as if that is an adequate rebuttal to "embrace change cause...old stuff sucks"...certainly imply that.
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Walker
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cbazler wrote:
People who practice gay sex have no trouble "joining," dude. Though if that is an accurate portrayal of your sex life, I feel sorry for your wife.


To clarify, I wasn't referring to "joining" in a sexual sense. I was attempting to express that those who say that legalizing SSM changes the definition of marriage see marriage as something that, by its nature, is only possible between a man and a woman. Marriage and sex are not the same thing.

Also, I'm not married and am abstaining from sex.
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
One of the more common claims about extending marriage to same-sex couples is that this changes the definition of marriage and thus could have significant consequences, given the importance of marriage in our culture and family structure.

I'm genuinely curious, though...how much of a change is it?

My wife and I got married when SSM was illegal in Massachusetts. Then it became legal. Our marriage did not -- as far as I can tell -- change at all. What it means for us to be married, our legal and social obligations to each other and to our children, did not change. I honestly can't think of anything in our actual marriage that is different as a result of same-sex couples being able to marry. So what is the change?

I'm asking this sincerely -- no gotchas and I will listen carefully to anyone who cares to answer. It's clear that some people see this as a very real problem and I gather that it's not limited to religious concerns but to the role of marriage in society. I'm curious to understand more what these concerns are.


I sincerely think the basic problem is that with this, our gay brethren are now being treated equally. It is a matter of the difficulty of accepting that sexual orientation is not some kind or sin or mental illness.
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twomillionbucks wrote:
*snip of Walker showing us his nuts*


Accepting your argument, it's a good thing then thst the government isn't concerned about the metalhysical qualities of marrisge. It's concerned about the legal benefits and obligations, as a good secular government should be. I don't want the government judging the qualitiy of marriages, and passing judgement. That would be a ton of bloat and effort, managing each individual case, reading petitions, and trying to analyze the merit of each couple. Havecyou seen the *adoption* process? Imagine that fof every marriage. Intrusive government indeed!

Folks who hold marriage as virtuous can still promote those values, and folks who've used it for cynical power grabs throughout history will still use it for that too. The goverment's just deciding who gets to be a part of the existing contract.

This is why the multiple partner thing doesn't fly. That'd be an entirely new contract with significant changes. You'd be better off arguing child marriage for your slippery slopes. You'd have to convince folks we would pitch age of consent though and that's tough. Imagine a world where old men could marry underage girls as sex toys. Oh wait... Courtney Stoddard... yeah. Ooops.
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Shadrach wrote:
Accepting your argument, it's a good thing then thst the government isn't concerned about the metalhysical qualities of marrisge.


I think you and Bazler are both attributing arguments to me that I'm not making.

Of course the government isn't concerned with whatever the metaphysical qualities of marriage are. All the same, if there exist metaphysical qualities to marriage, and if those metaphysical qualities are in fact what makes it marriage, the fact still remains that legalizing SSM constitutes a redefinition. That's the very simple point I'm trying to raise- if a certain supposition is true, then this conclusion follows. Chad asked for an explanation of the arguments that certain people make, and I attempted to give them as I understand them.

Quote:
This is why the multiple partner thing doesn't fly. That'd be an entirely new contract with significant changes. You'd be better off arguing child marriage for your slippery slopes. You'd have to convince folks we would pitch age of consent though and that's tough. Imagine a world where old men could marry underage girls as sex toys. Oh wait... Courtney Stoddard... yeah. Ooops.


Again, I haven't argued that legalizing SSM leads to a slippery slope. I do believe that an idea of marriage which is not rooted in metaphysical ideas could be equally used to support more than two marriage partners or underage marriage, but it doesn't follow that our culture will adopt an ethic that will allow for this. Our culture at present rejects these things for reasons that are not the definition of marriage (reasons of consent, etc).
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twomillionbucks wrote:
EXTENDED NUTS AND BOLTS ANALOGY


twomillionbucks wrote:
To clarify, I wasn't referring to "joining" in a sexual sense.


shake
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Conservatives on gay marriage these days, they're like the Higgs Boson. When you try to check their position they're not even there anymore.
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twomillionbucks wrote:
Shadrach wrote:
Accepting your argument, it's a good thing then thst the government isn't concerned about the metalhysical qualities of marrisge.


I think you and Bazler are both attributing arguments to me that I'm not making.

Of course the government isn't concerned with whatever the metaphysical qualities of marriage are. All the same, if there exist metaphysical qualities to marriage, and if those metaphysical qualities are in fact what makes it marriage, the fact still remains that legalizing SSM constitutes a redefinition. That's the very simple point I'm trying to raise- if a certain supposition is true, then this conclusion follows. Chad asked for an explanation of the arguments that certain people make, and I attempted to give them as I understand them.

Quote:
This is why the multiple partner thing doesn't fly. That'd be an entirely new contract with significant changes. You'd be better off arguing child marriage for your slippery slopes. You'd have to convince folks we would pitch age of consent though and that's tough. Imagine a world where old men could marry underage girls as sex toys. Oh wait... Courtney Stoddard... yeah. Ooops.


Again, I haven't argued that legalizing SSM leads to a slippery slope. I do believe that an idea of marriage which is not rooted in metaphysical ideas could be equally used to support more than two marriage partners or underage marriage, but it doesn't follow that our culture will adopt an ethic that will allow for this. Our culture at present rejects these things for reasons that are not the definition of marriage (reasons of consent, etc).


Mea culpa. I didn't parse you were simoly playing devil's advocate. I thought you were presenting what you considered valid arguments against the legal recognition of SSM contracts.

People can make bad arguments about philosophy all they want, that rarely interests me.
 
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