Bo Charted

Bo the dog (yes, the President’s dog) recently posted on his Facebook page (yes, the dog has his own Facebook page) this shining example of civility, tolerance, and respect for those who have differing opinions.

Actually, it’s a mess. It goes off the rails right from the get-go. I guess I’ll give Bo a break though. He is just a dog, and this sort of behavior goes along with his doggish nature. File this under “Why it’s important to be able to argue cultural issues without necessarily bringing God into it” and also “How NOT to win votes or sway public opinion.” And yes I do have those files in my drawer.

Framing the discussion in such a way doesn’t allow for logical arguments like this one from Jennifer Morse:

You’ve become a go-to person on the topic of same-sex marriage. People often argue that we should just let same-sex couples do what they want, since they’re not hurting anyone. What do you say to them?

We actually are allowing them to do whatever they want. What we’re not allowing them to do is redefine the institution of marriage to be a genderless institution. We’re not allowing them to take over the primary institution of society, which defines parenthood and defines the relationships between the generations.

Many arguments around this issue are confused between the personal, private purposes of marriage and the public purpose of the institution of marriage. The public purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another. It’s an issue of justice that everybody in society recognizes, that these two people are the parents of the child and nobody else is. Not grandma or the babysitter or a previous boyfriend, or all the people who might possibly show up wanting to be the parent. No. These two people are the parents of the child. That’s what marriage is designed to do: to attach to the biological mother the man who is the father of her child. And the marriage institution has social and legal norms of sexual exclusivity and permanence attached to it. Those are key features of marriage.

If you look at same-sex couples, both at what they say and their behavior, neither permanence nor sexual exclusivity plays the same significant role. In other words, if you’re in a union that’s intrinsically not procreative, sexual exclusivity is not as important. Once you start thinking like that, you’ll see that everything people offer as reasons why same-sex couples should be “allowed” to get married—all of the reasons are private purposes. Sometimes it’s nothing more than how it will make them feel. It’s not the business of law to make people feel a certain way. When you see that redefining marriage is going to, in fact, redefine the meaning of parenthood, removing biology as the basis for parenthood and replacing it with legal constructions—then you see that there is quite a lot at stake in getting the definition of marriage right.

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