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Gay Marriage: I Do, but I Cant By Sarah Turner This paper will show that gay marriage should

be legal. I will begin with the definition of homosexuality and state several of the arguments against homosexuality. Using the article Sexual Perversion by Thomas Nagel to define perversion, I will show that homosexuality is not perverted. Despite that, because of Nagels brief discussion of immorality, I will then cover the issue of whether or not homosexuality is immoral. Using the article by John Corvino entitled In Defense of Homosexuality, I will defend homosexuality as not being immoral. I will deal with two arguments against this: St. Thomas Aquinass arguments for sex being purely for procreation, and the arguments presented by John Finnis in The Wrong of Homosexuality. After showing that homosexuality is not immoral, I will define marriage and show that homosexual people should be allowed to get married. I will define what laws are meant to be, and show that there is no reason for gay marriage to be illegal. I will here use the article In Defense of Same-Sex Marriage by Cheshire Calhoun. The paper will conclude by showing that not only is homosexuality not perverted or immoral, but that there is nothing morally wrong with marriage between two people of the same gender. Homosexuality is sexual attraction between persons of the same sex. Those who object to homosexuality say that it is perverse, immoral, and unnatural. They argue that because homosexual couples cannot procreate, they cannot engage in moral sex. Quite frequently the bible is quoted to back-up this view.

To begin the defense of homosexuality, it is necessary to differentiate between natural sex and unnatural (or perverse) sex. In Sexual Perversion by Thomas Nagel, he describes natural sex as something lead to by way of sensing or recognizing arousal in a potential partner. He explains it via a description of an encounter between two strangers, called Romeo and Juliet, in which they notice each other through mirrors placed strategically around a cocktail lounge. Romeo notices Juliet first he senses her, not just sees her, but views her in a sexually desirous way. Because of the placement of the mirrors, she does not yet notice that he is viewing her in such a manner. At this point, it is a one-way interaction. [H]e is aroused by an unaroused object, so he is more in the sexual grip of his body than she of hers. 1 Now, in another mirror, Juliet senses Romeo. She is still unaware that he has sensed her, but she is now aware of him and feels a sexual desire for him. Romeo now notices that Juliet is feeling sexually aroused, from her heavy-lidded stare, dilating pupils, faint flush, etc.2 His arousal may increase, but it is still a one-way interaction until he realizes that, through the arrangement of the mirrors and her line of sight, she is aroused by him. This brings the interaction to another level; he is sensing her sensing him, or he is aroused by her arousal by him. There is one more step however in Nagels description. Juliet now realizes that Romeo is aroused by her. Romeo realizes this and becomes aroused by her increased arousal at his sensing her arousal by him. He senses that she senses that he senses her.3 If from here they turn to look at each other and continue with the recognition until it becomes physical contact and ends the way a full sexual encounter must, then this would be considered natural sex for Nagel.

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Nagel, Thomas. Sexual Perversion. The Philosophy of Sex. Pg. 37. Same as above. 3 Same as above.

By describing sex in this way and deeming it natural, Nagel is able to more clearly define what constitutes sexual perversion. Any situation in which the full series of recognitions isnt possible is a perversion. A fetish, for example, for inanimate objects would be a perversion since it is one persons sexual arousal by something that cannot return the arousal. The person does not get the full experience of sensing that she senses that he senses her. The inanimate object cannot sense him/her at all, so it is a completely one-way experience. Another example would be that of bestiality. We cannot say whether or not animals have the full level of consciousness that humans have, but it would be unclear in a situation whether an animal could return the sensing of arousal that two humans can participate in. Yet another example is that of pedophilia. A child may somehow participate in a sexual act, but their minds are incapable of fully processing the situation. They would not completely understand what it is they were doing, and be unable to assess the body language or signs of arousal of another person. If the child was even old enough to be physically capable of arousal, it would be an incomplete cycle because he/she would not fully grasp the significance of their actions or of the sensing of their physical responses by the adult. With perversion defined in this manner, it is clear that consensual sex between two partners, whether they are a heterosexual couple or a homosexual couple, is not a perversion as long as they have that mutual sensing of arousal. Whether or not perversions are moral, however, is an issue that Nagel does not address. His description of perversion is evaluative, not moral. He says, We make judgments about peoples beauty or health or intelligence which

are evaluative without being moral. Assessments of their sexuality may be similar in that respect.4 In the case of object fetishism as described above, many people would not normally say that this is an immoral desire despite the fact that it is a perverted desire. A man with a shoe fetish is not harming the shoes he may fondle in any way. They are not conscious of the mans fondling of them, and they cannot feel violated by his acts. If a woman agrees to model a shoe for him for his arousal, she is not being harmed and she would most likely agree that the act she had just participated in was not one that was immoral. It is the wo mans agreement to model the shoe that makes the act one that cannot be immediately classified as immoral. If the man were to inappropriately touch her against her will, or to pursue the encounter to a level of sexuality that she has not consented to, then the act would become immoral. Another conscious being has been harmed in the act. This difference shows that a perversion may, in its most general description, not fall into the category of that which is immoral. A more specific case-by-case, however, may reveal some instances in which a perversion is also immoral. On the other hand, a perverted desire could be immoral. With the described model of perversion indicated in pedophilia, there is a conscious being that is harmed in the broken cycle of arousal. The child is harmed physically and psychologically from the act. Any act of pedophilia that is an act against a child would be immoral. Pedophilia in itself may not involve an act that directly involves a child; it may merely be a grown man or woman fantasizing about sexual acts with a child. While translating these thoughts into actions would be immoral, it is not so easy to classify just the thoughts of one person. They are certainly perverted thoughts,

Nagel, Thomas. Sexual Perversion. The Philosophy of Sex. Pg. 42.

but they are not necessarily immoral. It is clear that perversion and immorality do not necessarily go hand in hand, but there are instances in which the two overlap. The next issue to discuss is whether or not homosexuality is immoral. So far it is clear that it is not a perversion since the presented model could just as easily involve Romeo and Mercutio as it does Romeo and Juliet, but since perversion and immorality are not necessarily tied to each other, immorality must be dealt with separately. One of the arguments against the morality of homosexuality is presented by St. Thomas Aquinas in his theory of natural law. Natural law is the peculiarly human participation in the eternal law. 5 It is the way in which humans make choices; these choices should be for the good, which is what is in accordance with the fulfillment of our nature. When speaking of sex, Aquinas says that sexuality that was within the bounds of marriage and which helped to further what he saw as the distinctive goods of marriage, mainly love, companionship, and legitimate offspring, was permissible, and even good. Aquinas did not argue that procreation was a necessary part of moral or just sex; married couples could enjoy sex without the motive of having children, and sex in marriages where one or both partners is sterile (perhaps because the woman is postmenopausal) is also potentially just (given a motive of expressing love). 6 He goes further to say that only sex that involves vaginal intercourse is moral since that is the only way in which procreation is possible (even if one of the couple is infertile). This argument presupposes that each organ has a specific natural purpose. John Corvino discusses this argument in his article, In Defense of Homosexuality. He says, According to

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Saint Thomas Aquinas. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Homosexuality. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

this argument, it is immoral to use an organ in a way that violates its particular purpose. 7 For example, he says that a mouth can be used for talking, eating, breathing, licking stamps, chewing gum, kissing women, or kissing Jim. 8 If an organ has only one natural purpose, which of these is the natural purpose of the mouth? And is the only natural purpose of the sexual organs to procreate? Aquinas says that sex between a married couple, even if they arent actively trying to have children, is just so long as the act is performed with the intent to express love. 9 He has given the sex organs the natural purposes of both procreation and expressing love. It is not clear that homosexuality is immoral because it cannot result in children, because sex between two people of the same gender could very well be a loving act. The only missing aspect from Aquinass qualifications regarding sex without the specific purpose of procreation is that of marriage, but if marriage between two people of the same sex is not legal, then homosexual people arent even being given the option of having sex in a morally just way. Another of the arguments against homosexuality is presented by John Finnis in The Wrong of Homosexuality. Following in the tradition of Kant and the view of morality that humanity should never be treated as a means only but always as an end in itself. Finnis says that masturbating or sodomy disintegrates the self in two ways, (1) by treating ones body as a mere instrument of the consciously operating self, and (2) by making ones choosing self the quasi-slave of the experiencing self which is demanding gratification. 10 He argues that the only situation in which sex can be moral is when it takes place in a loving marriage in which

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Corvino, John. In Defense of Homosexuality. The Philosophy of Sex. Pg 166 Same as above. 9 Homosexuality. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 10 Finnis, John. The Wrong of Homosexuality. The Philosophy of Sex. Pg 136

procreation is possible, because that kind of sex will be free of the objectification of ones partner and of the objectification of ones self as merely means to pleasure. While it is true that sex can (and is) used by many people as a way to merely gain a few moments of pleasure, it is equally used as a way to express love to another person. Moreover, heterosexual sex can just as easily occur in a purely objectifying, purely pleasure-seeking way as homosexual sex can. Finniss argument (in accordance with Kant) argues that sex outside of marriage cannot be just because it will always involve the use of another human being merely as a means to pleasure, but if homosexual couples are not allowed to marry, then it is flawed to suggest that homosexual sex is immoral because the individuals involved in the act are not married. Having defended homosexuality thus far by pointing out flaws in arguments against it, the last of the anti-homosexuality arguments that I previously mentioned is the quotation of the bible to defend this view. I will not argue that the bible is flawed, nor argue that religion is without its merits, I will merely point out that the bible seems to be only used for convenience in this particular argument. One of the most frequently quoted verses is Leviticus 20:13, If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [shall be] upon them. The previous chapter of Leviticus says, Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you, and before that, in chapter 17, it says, Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. If no tattoos or piercings and no rare meat arent enough, then ther e is also Leviticus 25:44-46, which describe who exactly it is okay to take as a slave. It does not say not

to own slaves. While I am not suggesting that the bible is not a reliable source for religious doctrine or as a generally good source for a moral code, I would like to point out that it should not simply be quoted randomly to justify arguments unless all of its moral imperatives are taken into account. Since homosexuality is not inherently perverted or immoral, the next issue is to define marriage, discuss the nature of laws, and show that homosexual couples should be allowed to get married. Marriage is the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of two people to live as a married couple, including the accompanying social festivities, where married means joined or united. While a same-sex couple cannot legally be married, they can fall in love and live together as a united couple. They can have a religious ceremony if one or both parties is religious to formalize their union. They can have such social festivities that customarily accompany a marriage. The only thing missing is the legal aspect of being married, which leaves them bereft of such legal benefits as shared insurance, joint parenting or adoption, status as next-of-kin for hospital visits and medical decisions where one partner is too ill to be competent, inheritance automatically in the absence of a will, etc. 11Although these benefits are merely legal ones and do not have a direct impact on the union of the couple, being denied such a traditional part of human life because of ones sexual orientation could be potentially heartbreaking. While a same-sex couple can participate in every aspect of marriage besides making it legally binding, having that legal piece of the whole may change the degree a person feels he/she is tied to his/her partner. He/she may feel that it is missing something that is only denied because the gender of the two people in question happens to be the same.


Legal and economic benefits of marriage.

Why is gay marriage illegal? To begin, a law can be defined as a rule of conduct or procedure established by custom, agreement, or authority.What is legal is not necessarily moral, and what is moral is not necessarily legal. For example, it is generally accepted that killing another human being is wrong, but it is legal in several states to execute prisoners who have been found guilty of certain crimes. In her article, In Defense of Same-Sex Marriage, Cheshire Calhoun says that gay marriage is illegal because it is thought that homosexual people deviate from gender norms, lack sexual control, are unfit for family life, and should be displaced in civil society. This last reason is why she says gay marriage should be at the forefront of a gay and lesbian political agenda. 12 She quotes several proponents of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) as calling traditional marriage and the family structure the keystone or fundamental pillar of civil society. 13 They say this so that marriage seems to be prepolitical, or something that is such a fundamental foundation to civil society that the state must recognize it. She says that many of the supporters of DOMA recognize that there are many relationships that humans enter into (business partnerships, friendships, etc.), and if homosexual relationships are recognized as marriage, then any of these other relationships might be eligible for marriage consideration. Calhoun gives two arguments, or courses of action, for gay and lesbian people to use in their work towards having the right to get married. The first option i s that heterosexuals are not the only ones qualified to enter this prepolitical institution. 14 She says the problem with this is that it still leads to the idea that there is a normative ideal for how people should

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Calhoun, Cheshire. In Defense of Same-Sex Marriage. The Philosophy of Sex. Pg 205 Same as above. 14 Calhoun, Cheshire. In Defense of Same-Sex Marriage. The Philosophy of Sex. Pg 209

organize their intimate, affectional, personal, economic, reproductive, sexual, and child-rearing lives. 15 Following through with this option would necessitate the determination of which heterosexal and non-heterosexual intimacy should be termed marriage and would be seen as foundational to civil society. The second is rejecting that marriage is prepolitical at all. It suggests that civil society depends only in the most general way on these relationships between people. 16This option would suggest a fully liberal society that recognizes all sorts of intimate arrangements, based on personal ideals of the good, would be recognized as equal. Calhoun suggests that the options are harder to choose from than what might seem to be immediately better. She agrees that the state should be neutral t o the good and that the state should not promote any one ideal as far as intimate relations go (as the second option suggests), but she says that the first option would grant homosexual people the right to be seen as equally able to participate in normatively ideal forms of marriage, parenting, and family.17She says that the first option is the only one of the two that directly challenges the ideology sustaining gays and lesbians social inequality. 18 What Calhouns article tells us is that as long as gay marriage is illegal, homosexual people will be treated as unequal. Both heterosexual and homosexual people are capable of sustaining long-term, loving relationships and of creating a suitable family environment for rearing children. Some may argue that the presence of homosexual parents would create a confusing environment for a child, but there are plenty of ways that heterosexual parents can create an unsuitable living situation for a child as well. While yet others may argue that allowing
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Same as above. Same as above. 17 Calhoun, Cheshire. In Defense of Same-Sex Marriage. The Philosophy of Sex. Pg 210 18 Calhoun, Cheshire. In Defense of Same-Sex Marriage. The Philosophy of Sex. Pg 210

people of the same sex to get married will defile the true meaning and ruin the tradition of marriage, statistically about half of all marriages (heretofore restricted to heterosexual couples) end in divorce. Is it worse to allow a couple of the same gender to get married than for a heterosexual couple to get married and then later turn their back on the vows they made till death do us part? I have shown that homosexuality is neither perverted nor immoral. I have also shown that traditional arguments against homosexuality are contradictory in terms or exclude important propositions. Finally, I have shown that although it is customary for marriage to be between a man and a woman, it is only through the right to marry that homosexual people can be granted the right to be recognized as true citizens and as a necessary part of a civil society. Denying them this right also denies them a place in society altogether. If homosexuality is not immoral, and if marriage is merely a celebration of a union of two people who intend to live as a joined couple, then it does not seem to follow that homosexual people are denied this legal right to bind themselves to the partner of their choice.