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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

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Hi Bill,

I'm not sure why the metaphysical point that homosexual couples are *essentially* incapable of procreation, whereas some heterosexual couples are *accidentally* incapable of procreation, should justify a difference in treatment. That is, I'm not sure that this metaphysical difference warrants a moral difference. It's true that the metaphysical difference makes the argument you consider unsound. But it seems to me that a parallel argument could be constructed that does not require homosexual couples to be infertile *in the same way* that some heterosexual couples are infertile.

I also agree with you that the government does have a legitimate claim to being involved in marriage, and that one such reason is its interest in children. But here's a thought in favor of same-sex marriage. Although they are essentially incapable of procreation, they are not incapable, essentially or otherwise, of raising children. And it is a fact that there are a large number of orphans in need of homes and parents. It seems plausible to me that being raised by homosexual parents will probably be better for those children than being raised in an orphanage. And, plausibly, it is better for the parents of children to be married than not to be. So, for some vaguely consequentialist reasons, it seems that there is some reason to allow homosexuals to marry, namely, so that they can raise children that are not wanted by the heterosexual couples that produced them. Putting my cards on the table, I don't think this is the only, or even primary, reason to allow same-sex marriage. What I am trying to do here is to construct an argument for that conclusion from premises that I think you might accept.

Thanks for the thoughtful comments, John.

>>That is, I'm not sure that this metaphysical difference warrants a moral difference.<< I don't see the issue as a moral one so much as a legal one. One of the difficulties here is to formulate the question precisely. At the moment I see the question as this: Ought permanent, exclusive, dyadic, same-sex unions be legally recognized as marital unions? One might legally permit what one finds morally objectionable.

>>So, for some vaguely consequentialist reasons, it seems that there is some reason to allow homosexuals to marry, namely, so that they can raise children that are not wanted by the heterosexual couples that produced them.<<

Again the question is what exactly the issue is. It is legally permissible for homosexuals to cohabit and form ongoing households in which children are raised. So what you want allowed is already allowed. And I have no objection to extending to permanent and exclusive same-sex unions some and perhaps all of the economic and legal benefits enjoyed by married couples, for example, the right to check the box 'married filing jointly' on IRS Form 1040.

But marriage is marriage and same-sex unions (even if dyadic, permanent, and exclusive) are not, and the honorific 'marriage' should not be applied to them. This is not a bare assertion: my post is part of the the argument for it.

All you have done above is to provide reasons for non-marital civil unions. I don't oppose you on that.

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