Monday, October 13, 2008

Does Biology rules out Gay Marriage?

Gay marriage is a hot button in the US. Where I come from, the Netherlands, it is not any more and even the CDA now considers is something not to be fought any more. Anyway, the US is making head ways, now that a third state (Connecticut, after Massachusetts and California) legalized gay marriages.

Some people opposing gay marriage use biology to argue that the traditional marriage should be limited to one man and one woman. They argue that “It takes a man and a woman to create children and thus create a family”. And that therefore, marriage should be limited to one man and one woman. Unfortunately for them, they only would be right if, and only if, marriage was a biological phenomenon, which of course, it is not. Marriage is just a social construct, nothing more.

But besides that marriage is a social construct, using biology in this way is oversimplifying what biology actually tells us. Using biology in the way it is used against gay marriage ignores the large variation that biology shows. It for example assumes that you only have man and woman, ignoring that there are a substantial number of intersex people. During development of the foetus, many biological processes have to line up perfectly to get the proper sex-determination. if anything goes wrong, because of genetics or environment, some of the characteristics typical for a man or a woman will be skewered and defining whether the person is a man or a woman becomes a legal nightmare.

For example, in Texas, the state's 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio, ruled that a man is defined by his chromosomes. This results in that same-sex couples, of which one is transsexual, can legally marry (with the cravat that it is considered illegal in the rest of Texas). Thus just illustrates that using biology to define a social construct as marriage is anything but build on the most shaky grounds.

But I think the argument is made this way because it avoids the insertion of overt religious arguments into something that should be free of religion. We have to expose the argument for what it is, a thinly veiled argument to insert religion into the legal system.

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