Assignment 3.3 – Critical Thinking

** Please note:  This blog post was written in whole or in part as an assignment for a class that I was taking.  If you decide to use some of my work in your own assignments, please give credit where credit is due and cite your source!  Thanks :) **

This weeks assignment is to:

Select an issue debated in the media, for example, abortion, juvenile delinquency, or business ethics. Identify arguments on both sides of the debate. In two pages, paraphrase the arguments on two sides into a dialogue so that each argument is a response to the preceding argument. Evaluate any potential ethical, moral, or legal issues.

The topic of gay marriage is one that is hotly debated in the media these days.  With so many states and lawmakers making statements about what marriage should and should not be, it is not very difficult to find debate-worthy material for both points of view.

Some of the most common arguments that come up in regards to same-sex marriage are about the institution of marriage being undermined and no longer valid.  Those who oppose same-sex marriage make the statement that marriage is to be between a man and a woman and that anything else is invalid and an abomination.  But what is the definition of “man” or “woman,” and who fits the definition of each into the definition of marriage?  In his article, “What is Marriage Between a Man and a Woman?” on legal, biological, and social definitions, Austin Cline talks about how the definitions of man and woman can be varied due to things like sex changes and hermaprodites born with both male and female sexual characteristics.  If a person is born with female sex characteristics but decides to undergo therapy to be a man, and changes his legal birth certificate to reflect this, can his marriage to a woman be refused or considered illegal?  Cline also talks about a 2002 ruling where just such a case occurred.  This case resulted in the state of Ohio claiming that, by the dictionary definition of a female being “the sex that produces ova and bears young” and male being “the sex that produces sperm to fertilize ova,” that the man is not considered to be a man, and therefore could not marry his female partner.  If this is the case, then what would be the result of a woman who has had a complete hysterosalpingo-oophorectomy?  This surgery removes the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries of a woman, rendering her completely unable to produce ova or bear young.  Is she therefore not considered to be a woman?  Would she be denied the ability to marry a man by that definition?

Some more strict opponents of same-sex marriage turn this into the statement that legalizing same-sex marriage would be a step towards legalizing polygamy.  There is a belief that if a man is allowed to marry a man, or a woman to marry a woman, there would be nothing to prevent marriage to be allowed between a man and multiple women, or between a woman and multiple men, or more!  Brian Tashman notes on his blog that in a radio interview on AFA Today, the American Family Association’s radio talk show, general manager Buster Wilson stated not only that the AFA hates homosexuals, but that if the door is opened to same-sex marriage, people will not just marry those of the same sex, but marriage to a building, a car, or a dog will be allowed as well.  Eric Zorn talks about this in his article from the Chicago Tribune, that just because same-sex marriage is legalized doesn’t mean that multiple-partner marriages will be as well.  They will be held under different laws with different arguments.  He also notes that just because two people of the same sex want to get married it doesn’t mean anything other than that two people are agreeing to join together and take on the same responsibilities of a “traditional” married couple.

Which leads the debate into yet another topic, children in same-sex marriages.  There are many arguments about the fact that marriage is supposed to be for raising children, and gay couples, by definition, cannot.   This has poor basis because if the end result is based on this argument, then many other couples would not be allowed to marry either.  The laws do not include infertile couples or elderly couples who are unable to have children, nor do they include couples who choose to remain childless for no other reason than to do so. (Cline, Arguments).

A similar topic comes up at this point as well, that having a mother and a father is better than having two mothers or two fathers.  While the argument exists that children raised in families including a father and a mother who are married to each other do grow up with certain advantages, one can also look at a society where this is not always the norm either.  If there are studies to prove that children growing up with a mother and a father are healthier or smarter, then there are also studies proving that children growing up in single parent homes or same-sex parent homes are just as smart and healthy (Stanton, 2012).  A study conducted between 1986 and 1992 and published in 2010 reports that sons and daughters of lesbian mothers did better in social, school, and competence testing and were less likely to be troublemakers, and were well adjusted psychologically (Gatrell, 2010).  Studies like this provide quality reasons that this argument cannot be used as a tool against same-sex marriage.

Cline, Austin. (2012). Arguments Against Gay Marriage: Marriage is for Having Children. About.com Agnosticism / Atheism. Retrieved from <http://atheism.about.com/od/gaymarriage/a/MarriageKids.htm&gt;

Cline, Austin. (2012). What is Marriage Between a Man and a Woman? About.com Agnosticism/Atheism.  Retrieved from <http://atheism.about.com/od/gaymarriage/a/OneManWoman.htm&gt;.

Gartrell, Nanette, et al. (2010, June 7). US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-3153). Retrieved from <http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2010/06/07/peds.2009-3153.abstract&gt;

Stanton, Glenn T. (2012).  Are Children with Same-Sex Parents at a Disadvantage? Facts About Youth. Retrieved from < http://factsaboutyouth.com/posts/are-children-with-same-sex-parents-at-a-disadvantage/&gt;.

Tashman, Brian.  (2011, December 2). AFA Warns That Same-Sex Marriage Leads to Building, Car and Dog Marriage. Retrieved from <http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/afa-warns-same-sex-marriage-leads-building-car-and-dog-marriage&gt;.

Zorn, Eric. (2012, May 19). The Top Six Arguments Against Gay Marriage (and Why They All Fail). Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from <http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2012/05/the-top-six-arguments-against-gay-marriage-and-why-they-all-fail.html&gt;.

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