Friday, February 20, 2004
I'm sending the following letter to the Opinions page of the Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech's student-run newspaper. We'll see if they print it.
In the debate over homosexual marriage, it may be helpful to clarify a few things. Most importantly, marriage is recognized differently by different bodies. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam do not recognize homosexual unions, nor do the United States or the Commonwealth of Virginia. If the Feb. 20 article 'Couples fight for equal rights' is indicative, then the Blacksburg Unitarian Universalists do recognize them, as do the participants in non-'mock' ceremonies. It would seem as though whether two people are married or not is a matter of opinion, rather than fact.
As marriage is a matter of opinion, then it cannot be an inalienable right, but is rather a privilege, meaning that state recognition is a matter for government to decide as it deems best. If the government of the state, representing the people, decides either to recognize or refuse to recognize homosexual unions as marriages, then it may do so at its own discretion. Likewise, a company may decide to grant or withhold benefits to those not in state-sanctioned marriages, whether homosexual or heterosexual, in accordance with the law.
However, this also means that many other conceptions of marriage should be considered for recognition or lack thereof by the legislature. Is there a reason why polygamy should not be legal? How about incestuous relationships? Realistically, is there any reason why a person cannot simply marry himself? If state approval of marriage is to be framed in terms of commitment and economic benefits, then is there any reason why four thousand, or even 275 million people cannot enter into legally-binding marriages? By essentially defining marriage as a form of incorporation, then it would seem that the next logical step would be for stocks to be offered.
Ultimately, it is up to us, through our representatives, to decide what Virginia and the United States consider matrimony to be. If we are to expand it from being a man and a woman to two men or two women, then we ought to examine why three people or a brother and sister do not qualify."