Executive Summary In this case, we were asked to analyze a debate about the legalization of same-sex marriage, draw conclusions about each part of the argument, declare a winner for the debate and provide coaching for the losing side.
Before analyzing the arguments made in this debate, we gathered significant background information about same-sex marriage in the United States. After gathering information about the debate topic, we analyzed the stock issues and audience of this debate issue.
In analyzing the arguments within this debate, we drew several specific conclusions related to each side. Even Wolfson, the affirmative arguer, promoted the change of legalizing same-sex marriage. Within this argument he makes many motivational (pathos) claims. Several of his arguments include loaded language and do not use well-developed evidence. Maggie Gallagher, the negative arguer, favors maintaining (or possibly modifying) the status quo. She shifts the issue from a question of value to a question of definition, and draws attention to the implications of changing the social understanding of marriage. Her argument has a logical and natural order.
After comparing and analyzing the arguments, it is clear the negative side won this argument. Wolfson did not establish need or meet the burden of proof, both of which are required for success in his argument. We made several recommendations for the affirmative argument, mostly related to the addition of evidence to enhance the credibility and logical appeal of his argument.
In analyzing this debate, we understood the importance of wisely using persuasive warrants: substantive, authoritative and motivational. Providing adequate evidence and following a natural order of ideas are vital to successful arguments.
Background In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law. DOMA defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. This act defines marriage for the purpose of federal laws and gives states the authority to make their own rulings about same-sex marriage. There are also 37 states with DOMA legislation, and several additional states have constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Currently, six states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages. However, the same-sex marriages performed in these states cannot transfer to other states. There are other states that allow civil unions. These states include Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey. Civil unions give same-sex couples similar rights and privileges as married heterosexual couples. However, these rights are often bound to the state the civil union was performed in, with the exceptions of Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania, which acknowledge same-sex marriages and civil unions from other states.
The first state to allow same-sex marriage was Massachusetts. In November 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled barring same-sex couples from marriage was unconstitutional. The state senate then asked for a judiciary ruling on the legality of allowing civil unions but banning traditional marriage.
The court responded, “Segregating same-sex unions from opposite-sex unions cannot possibly be held rationally to advance or preserve…stable adult relationships for the good of the individual or the community, especially its children.”
In May 2004, Massachusetts began allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Although civil unions give same-sex couples some benefits, such as hospital visitation, they do not provide federal benefits. These benefits include joint federal tax returns and immigration sponsorship. Including state benefits records, there are many benefits provided by marriage. The lack of equal benefits for same-sex couples is one of the main arguments in support of same-sex marriage. Some of the state-level benefits of marriage include family health coverage, child custody, medical/bereavement leave, income/estate tax benefits, medical decisions for an incapacitated partner and leaves of absence to care for an ill partner.
Those against same-sex marriage often are supportive of civil unions or domestic partnerships. They prefer to have separate institutions for heterosexuals and homosexuals. They often feel the traditional definition of marriage is a union between one man and one woman. They also feel the purpose of marriage is to create and raise a family. Obviously, same-sex couples cannot naturally produce children. Also, some against same-sex marriage suggest allowing it to exist would decay or weaken the family structure in America. The traditional American family structure has already changed immensely; the argument is same-sex marriage would only change it even more and for the worse.