The topic of gay “marriage” is a sizzling in the media. Are we being selfish and narrow-minded to deny gay couples access to marriage? Do gay couples have a “right” to marry like other couples? Here’s an incredibly erudite, kick-ass argument for why homosexuals can’t claim a right to legal “marriage.” Catholic attorney Andrew Greenwell argues that because homosexual couples lack the obligations or duties of the historical office of marriage, they therefore lack the right to marriage.
I haven’t heard or read anything from anyone who recognized the significance of the “office” of marriage and how that impacts the marriage debate. When you hold an office, you have a special status or identity related to “doing something”; the person holding the office has to be capable of assuming certain duties and obligations in carrying out that work successfully. It is those duties and obligations that give rise to rights. Without those duties, talking about “rights” is a sham.
Here’s a snippet from his article:
The reason for this is that the office imposes upon the holder of office a duty which obliges him in conscience, and the obligation of fulfilling that duty gives rise to a right to fulfill that duty, a right which must be respected by others and which public authority can enforce.
Moderns, however, have severed the relationship between duty and right, between office and right, so we hear all manner of things about “rights” that are entirely untied to any office or duty. This gives rise to all sorts of silly rights, fictitious rights, to the point that “rights talk” has become virtually unmanageable.
The office of marriage can only be assumed by people who can carry out the chief duty of marriage: bringing offspring into the world. Only a man and a woman could possibly fulfill that duty; two women or two men can never fulfill this duty and obligation, so they can’t claim a right to marriage. Check out Greenwell’s full article for more insights!
So, what would you reply to somebody who countered that if we accept Greenwell’s argument, infertile couples couldn’t marry because they could not assume the duties and obligations of bearing children?
UPDATE: Andrew Greenwell and I exchanged emails and he shared that he intends to write another article addressing the question I pose in my last paragraph. Looking forward to it!