For those of you interested in the Gay Marriage debate, The Volokh Conspiracy blog, a blog of mainly law professors and academics, sponsored a discussion where one week the pro-Traditional Marriage point of view was presented, and another week the pro-Gay Marriage point of view was presented. Giving the traditional marriage defense was Maggie Gallagher, a widely respected defender of traditional marriage, and giving the pro-Gay Marriage side was Dale Carpenter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota and a prominent proponent of same-sex marriage.
Here are some of the core points,
The argument is that extending marriage to include same-sex couples would not just give rights to a small subset of the population, but would radically transform what marriage is. So long as only opposite-sex couples can marry, the thinking goes, marriage is linked to procreation; if same-sex couples can marry, too, then marriage is transformed into something else entirely. Adding same-sex marriage would ruin the old institution and create a new one, and the new institution would not longer retain a focus on having and raising children. Viewed in that light, same sex marriage is a threat to society: by redefining the institution, it will kill off its most important feature.
Sex makes babies. Society needs babies. Babies need fathers as well as mothers. That’s the heart of marriage as a universal human institution.
Please note: Procreation is not the definition of marriage. It is the reason for marriage’s existence as a public (and yes legal) institution. People who don’t have children can still really be married (just as people who aren’t married can and do have babies).
But if sex between men and women did not make babies, then marriage would not be a universal human institution, or a legal status in America.
As a bonus, there is also another debate between Maggie Gallagher and Andrew Koppelman in the U. of St. Thomas Law Review, “(How)Will Same-Sex Marriage Weaken Marriage as an Institution?“.