Why should the federal government NOT past legislation that would make homosexual marriage legal nationwideI have a court-style debate in my AP Government class on Wednesday in which I am required...

Why should the federal government NOT past legislation that would make homosexual marriage legal nationwide

I have a court-style debate in my AP Government class on Wednesday in which I am required to argue against other students who support that the federal government should past legislation that would make homosexual marriage legal nationwide.

I think I have to argue for the more difficult side. All I can think of is that it would violate states' rights and undemocratic if enforced, and it intervenes with religious affairs and breaches the concept of "separation of church and state."

Young people tend to be more liberals (if that helps), so anybody got any other points and I can use for debating?

Asked on by lastxdeth

6 Answers | Add Yours

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Regarding #6: I think the problem with making the democracy argument at the federal level is that it's difficult to show exactly what popular opinion is on the issue. My understanding is that many national polls have shown that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. My guess is that there are many that would show, depending on methodology, exactly the opposite. So I don't know how we can ascertain the will of the majority except on the state level, where the constitutional mechanisms exist for referendums, ballot initiatives, etc.

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I agree that the best idea might be to try to counter the opposing argument rather than find free responses.  You do have the more difficult side of the argument.  Separation of church and state might imply that gay marriage should be allowed because it is largely on religious principles that same sex marriage is opposed.  I think the argument of states rights would be much more valid and easier to support.  You might try coming up with a list of things you think the other side might present as evidence for their case.  Then, try to find a way to undermine each argument.  This will be much simpler than trying to find stand alone ideas.  Clearly there must be some validity to the argument against same sex marriage because it has not passed in many states.  (Of course, I'm speaking of legal validity and not personal opinion here.)

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Does this have to be an argument based on the Constitution or can it be based on general principles of democracy?  If it can be based on general principles, you can simply say that the majority in a democracy has the right to legislate its values.  We have all sorts of laws that do this, including laws that say that you cannot marry more than one person.  Democracy is a balancing act between protecting personal freedoms and allowing the will of the majority to rule.  You can argue that this is a case where the majority's will must rule.

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I don't find the separation of church and state argument very compelling. The best argument against a federal law would be that the Tenth Amendment reserves powers not delegate to the federal government to the states. Regulating marriage, divorce, etc. are powers that have always been controlled by states. So from a legal standpoint, it could be (indeed it has been) argued, as you allude to by citing states' rights in your question, that this is an unconstitutional intrusion into the sphere of state government. I would hasten to add that this same argument was made against civil rights legislation, and that I find it pretty specious, but for the purposes of your debate, that's about the best you can do.

lastxdeth's profile pic

lastxdeth | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

I don't find the separation of church and state argument very compelling. The best argument against a federal law would be that the Tenth Amendment reserves powers not delegate to the federal government to the states. Regulating marriage, divorce, etc. are powers that have always been controlled by states. So from a legal standpoint, it could be (indeed it has been) argued, as you allude to by citing states' rights in your question, that this is an unconstitutional intrusion into the sphere of state government. I would hasten to add that this same argument was made against civil rights legislation, and that I find it pretty specious, but for the purposes of your debate, that's about the best you can do.

Maybe the best thing I can do is to anticipate what my opponents will argue and try to disprove their points instead of debating with free responses.

lastxdeth's profile pic

lastxdeth | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

Does this have to be an argument based on the Constitution or can it be based on general principles of democracy?  If it can be based on general principles, you can simply say that the majority in a democracy has the right to legislate its values.  We have all sorts of laws that do this, including laws that say that you cannot marry more than one person.  Democracy is a balancing act between protecting personal freedoms and allowing the will of the majority to rule.  You can argue that this is a case where the majority's will must rule.

It can be based on anything, whether it be on legal or ethical grounds, or pure conceptual.

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