Gay Marriage: A Privilege Or A Right?

2003 words - 8 pages

The question of whether gays should be allowed to marry in society is one that has been on the United States' agenda recently. There are those who say that marriage is a right that should be given to all, and that denying gays this right is a form of oppression. To decide whether or not gays are in fact being oppressed, and if they should be allowed to marry, I will analyze the works of Edmund Burke, Jeremy Bentham, and Karl Marx. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke speaks of the reason for having society. He says, "If civil society be made for the advantage of man, all the advantages for which it has made become his right" (13). What he means is that the point of government is to provide for the benefit of the people, and it accomplishes this outside of man's natural rights: "Government is not made in virtue of natural rights, which may and do exist in total independence of it..." (13). He defines government as a "contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants" (14), and those who want to reap the benefits must allow a "sufficient restraint on their passions" (14) for society to function properly. In this way we say that Burke's view of society is one in which the people are happy and cared for. Concerning the rights of those in society, he gives this broad definition: "Whatever each man can separately do, without trespassing upon others, he has a right to do for himself; and he has a right to a fair portion of all which society, with all its combinations of skill and force, can do in his favor" (13). Based on this, since gay marriages are simultaneously in people's favor and not trespassing on any others rights, it would seem that Burke would allow this action. However, there is another important part of Burke's philosophy that conflicts with the idea of gay marriages, and that is inheritance. He speaks of it in response to the new sentiment being held by the French, that "the king owes his throne to the choice of his people, and is therefore the only lawful sovereign in the world..."(5). He says, "the old fanatics of single arbitrary power dogmatized as if hereditary royalty was the only lawful government in the world, just as our new fanatics of popular arbitrary power, maintain that a popular election is the sole lawful source of authority" (8). He means that he does not believe either democracy or succession is the absolute best form of governmental these things depend on circumstances. What is best can change depending on the situation. Burke goes on to speak of inheritance and its effect on society. He speaks highly of the "inheritable crown; an inheritable peerage and a house of commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises and liberties, from a long line of ancestors" (8). He goes so far as to define inheritance as a "relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family...

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