October 15, 2004

The Irrelevance of Genetics to Gay Marriage

In reading this article on the whole debate kerfuffle over Kerry's using Mary Cheney as a political prop, the article and comments devote a significant amount of the discussion to whether homosexuality is genetic or it is a choice. Here's a news flash, it doesn't matter.

Marriage, in a government policy context, is about shaping society in certain ways to encourage certain results. We accept the state stepping in and giving the married certain supplementary rights and certain supplementary responsibilities. The structure is large, complex, and very poorly understood. It's not about self-actualization, love, warm feelings, or acceptance. That part of marriage is the private part and I think we all feel a little weird about the idea of the government getting anywhere near the question of who you or I love in any capacity. That's just not their business.

A very long, persistent majority of people have decided that staving off demographic collapse is something that the state can and should get involved in, thus the subsidies for marriage and children. Similarly, societal stability is enhanced by marriage and persistent majorities think that that is in the purview of the state to encourage too. There are other social policy goals in there but those are really the big two. Now whether homosexuals are born or decide to be that way is completely irrelevant to the questions of demographic collapse and social stability. The question is whether or not we should be involving the state at all in these questions and if we do continue to do so whether adding a new form of marriage advances the legitimate state interest or not.

There are plenty of genetic variants that receive state penalties. There are plenty of conscious choices that are punished by the state. Whether it's one way or the other just doesn't matter.

Posted by TMLutas at October 15, 2004 10:36 AM