Thoughts on economics and liberty

There is no natural “right” to marriage, hence no “right” to “gay” marriage

I am happy to elaborate my position on "gay" marriage further for the sake of those who suffer from the misconception that marriage is some kind of "human right".

LIBERTY is the "human right". LIFE is the "human right". [Why I place the phrase "human right" in quotes is explained at length in DOF; basically there are no rights till a constitution is agreed, along with enforcement of the rule of law. By no means are natural rights to life and liberty automatic "rights" .]

But the question before us is: Is marriage a natural right?


A constitutional liberal democracy must enforce the rule of law, through application of laws equally to all citizens. That does not mean, however, that the law must be blind to basic BIOLOGICAL facts of life.

For instance, in public places there are generally TWO separate toilets: one for men and one for women. 


Because men and women are DIFFERENT in their biological constitution. It is not a violation of liberty for men to be prohibited from entering women's toilets in a public place (e.g. airport).

Similarly, children can ONLY be produced from a man and woman (regardless of any technological overlay, which STILL relies on the underlying DNA of ONE man and ONE woman).

The right to marriage is therefore RESTRICTED only to a man and woman who will not just live together but could have have BIOLOGICALLY CREATED (i.e. natural) children

One may well ask: Is it crucial that children necessarily be produced in order for a union to be called "marriage"?

No. Even if a marriage does not produce children, the fact that biologically it COULD have, is sufficient. 

The fact that someone must necessarily adopt children or have them technologically produced (as must ALWAYS be the case in "gay" marriage), is fundamentally a different idea to that of marriage. These are two distinct sets; MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE:

There are those who argue that "gays" can adopt and hence "care" for children. But just because one is fit to be a nanny doesn't mean he/she becomes a parent. The whole point of marriage was (and is) the natural upbringing of children.

In sum, there is no natural right to marriage. There is NO constitutional imperative or necessity for a society that guarantees liberty to also guarantee "gay" marriage.

There is, in addition, NO natural right to be able to "care" for children that are not one's own. Yes, in a real marriage adoption sometimes becomes necessary. But that still allows for the NATURAL upbringing of children. Such upbringing of an adopted child in a REAL marriage is NOT comparable in any form or shape to "upbringing" of an adopted child by a "gay" "couple" .

In sum, there is NO system or possibility in nature for "gay" parents. PERIOD.

"Gay" people can live together and have SEPARATELY defined legal rights, particularly contractual arrangements for property or such things.

But no, their relationship is not, and cannot be marriage.

Should they wish to care for children, they can help out in orphanages or otherwise assist as nannies or school teachers. I'm not undermining their possible contributions as humans. But they must not have any access to children for "bringing them up". That is a fundamental violation of the laws of nature.

The NATURAL rights to life and liberty derive from NATURE. The laws of life (biology) have priority over all other laws. Let us avoid making a mockery of fundamental institutions that are rooted in biology and the laws of nature.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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12 thoughts on “There is no natural “right” to marriage, hence no “right” to “gay” marriage
  1. Sumantra Roy

    Sanjeev – your clarifications in this post hardly amount to a refutation of the comments made by me and others with respect to your original post.

    For instance, you have not addressed the issue of empirical evidence regarding your assertions. Nor have you addressed the issue of why the state needs to get involved in the institution of marriage in the first place.

    And, in addition, you’ve introduced several other errors in this post.

    For example, you’ve made several statements regarding natural rights that are highly debatable. Contrary to what you said, the right to life and liberty IS an automatic right. The state doesn’t GRANT these rights to you – the state merely exists for the protection and enforcement of these rights. You would have these rights even if there were no state. The fact that in the absence of a state, there would be no institution with a monopoly on the use of force to ENFORCE these rights does not in any way mean that these are not rights to begin with. Enforcement by a 3rd party is not a necessary condition for the existence of rights.

    However, we don’t need to get into a debate on the issue of whether or not life and liberty are automatic rights and where rights are derived from. Let’s take what you stated about natural rights as a working hypothesis for the purpose of this discussion on gay marriage.

    Unfortunately, there are still several other holes in your argument.

    First, you state that marriage is not a natural right. However, what you have ignored is that freedom of contract IS a natural right. And as long as marriage is recognized as a legal contract between 2 consenting adults, then the state has no business either determining the terms of the contract, or determining the identities of the parties to the contract. The state’s only job is to enforce the terms of the contract – just as it would for any other contract.

    Second, you seem to be putting the institution of marriage on a higher pedestal than a regular contract between 2 consenting adults. And the reason you are doing so, is, according to you, biological.

    So let’s examine this argument further.

    You’ve stated the following 3 propositions in your argument:

    1. A child can only be produced by a man and a woman.
    2. The only purpose of marriage is to produce children.
    2. Therefore, marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

    I’ll concede that the first proposition is true from a biological perspective.

    But how do you prove the correctness of the second proposition? Your saying so doesn’t make it so.

    Yes – child rearing has traditionally been an important function of a married couple. But that doesn’t mean that child rearing is the ONLY purpose of marriage.

    What you have to prove is that there can be NO other purpose of marriage other than the task of producing children, i.e. that a couple (heterosexual or otherwise) can NEVER get married unless they do so for the express purpose of having children.

    Please go ahead and try to prove this.

    Do you really want to state that a woman in her (say) 70s who has crossed the age of menopause and is there biologically incapable of having children cannot be allowed to get married? Because that is what your argument amounts to.

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    I’ve elaborated in DOF that while natural rights to life and liberty are innate, the can only EXIST (in reality) if enforcement is assured. That’s why the state.

    I have repeatedly said that “gay” people can CONTRACT any form of property arrangements they wish, and the state can enforce the contract.

    However, it is extremely improper for “gay” people to want to call THEIR contract a marriage. What’s the issue? Go for it. Have a contract. But each contract has a different meaning/purpose. Marriage contract is an INSTITUTION of society. A foundational contract without which children would not exist.

    Just because someone wants to live with each other, doesn’t mean that contract has to be called marriage. Call it a non-marriage. Call it Gay Contract. Call it what you like. But NOT marriage.

    Second it is extremely improper for them to parent any child. They can be nannies for someone’s child, they can work in orphanages and schools and look after children. But NO, they have no natural right to parent any child. There is NO voluntarism involved in such a case.


  3. Polevaulter Donkeyman


    Great comment. I notice that Sanjeev has evaded your point of a 70 year old woman getting married.

    In fact I would build on that point more.


    1. Would you ban any man or woman who are sterile (and know they are sterile e.g. as a result of vasectomy/tubal ligation/hysterectomy) from getting married?

    Some more questions

    2. Do you think one man + one woman is the only possible parental combination wrt raising of children? If so, why?

    3. If your answer to 2 is — because that is the way it has been done forever then please remember that is the same answer men gave to women regarding why women should stay at home and manage the household. Do you think therefore that women should stay at home?

    4. If 1 man + 1 woman have a child and say the woman dies after a while, would you force the man to get married to someone else? If the man dies would you force the woman to get married to someone else?

    I look forward to the answers to the above questions and to the questions I have asked you on twitter

  4. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear PD

    Your points are interesting but it is like trying to pick issues in an argument I NEVER made.

    My points are very simple and straightforward. I’m starting from first principles and saying: yes, “gay” people can sign legally binding contracts that the state will enforce. Like any other commercial/voluntary contract.

    However, just like a CHILD CAN’T be derived from two men or two women, so also “marriage” can’t be derived from two men or two women.

    All attempts to call the “gay” contract marriage are incompatible with liberty.

    Your liberty ends when you want to encroach my space. Marriage is a PRE-DEFINED institution. It has NO space for “gays”.

    Let them have their contracts. Let them celebrate their “contract” and throw a party. That’s fine.

    Beyond that EVERYTHING they demand is unnatural and inconsistent with the LAWS OF NATURE.

    That’s all I’m saying. I’m not litigating details. Sorry. I’m not fighting this issue in that space. This is not about details. It is about the big picture.


  5. Kiran


    This is the first time i find myself disagreeing with you on all counts.

    I don’t see how having children or the ability to have children is the sole characteristic by which a marriage is defined.

    I also don’t understand your point about children being confused when raised by two women or two men. Is there evidence to suggest this being the case? Because with proper communication, my intuition is that children will not be confused. I am addressing this point because this seems to be your gripe with legalizing gay marriages.

  6. Polevaulter Donkeyman

    <a href=""@Sanjeev:

    “I’m starting from first principles and saying: yes, “gay” people can sign legally binding contracts that the state will enforce. Like any other commercial/voluntary contract.”

    Of course they can and so can straight couples. But you haven’t dealt with the question of privileges granted by the state to straight couples under the rubric of marriage which are being denied to gay couples. E.g.:

    1. Tax treatment: Typically married couples can declare a joint tax return under which the total tax liability is lesser compared to if they file their tax returns separately. Gay couples since they are not “married” in the eyes of the state cannot avail of this benefit.

    2. Immigration rights: If A and B are a straight couple then B gets the right to reside in A’s state (and citizenship) and vice versa (of course this could be subject other issues such as surrendering previous citizenship) but if A and B are a gay couple they do not get that right in the first place.

    3. Power of attorney regarding healthcare decisions: Typically laws allow a spouse to make healthcare decisions for the incompetent spouse if they are a straight couple. Gay couples cannot do this. They MAY be allowed to contract for this but this contract is subject to law and may be rendered null and void if the contract clashes with the law (or the public policy embodied therein)

    There are many other such privileges granted to straight “married” couples by the state not granted to gay couples and since these are granted by the state a private contract between the gay couple cannot confer these privileges on the two gay people forming the couple.

    I mentioned these examples to you via twitter. I look forward to your response to them.

    All attempts to call the “gay” contract marriage are incompatible with liberty.

    Your liberty ends when you want to encroach my space. Marriage is a PRE-DEFINED institution. It has NO space for “gays”.

    This is where you lose me. How is any liberty enjoyed by a straight couple via the institution of marriage diminished by the same liberty being enjoyed by a gay couple? How is the gay couple encroaching on the space of a straight “married” couple?

    Beyond that EVERYTHING they demand is unnatural and inconsistent with the LAWS OF NATURE.

    The argument from nature is also a non-started. (I am going to assume we are talking about nature wrt to humans and not non-humans). In the history of humanity polygamy has been very common. In fact in India until the passage of the Hindu Marriage Act in the 1950s it was NATURAL for a man to have multiple wives. Until the mid 1800s child marriage was also natural. Are you also in support of polygamy and child marriage?

    Finally I believe (and correct me if I am wrong) your position is that straight marriage is desirable because it allowed for a framework for the rearing of children. I think you come to this position for two reasons:

    1. Only a straight couple is capable of begetting children
    2. Children need a male parent and a female parent for optimal growth.

    Regarding the first reason: Would you, as I asked before, ban all straight marriages where it is clear before marriage that the marriage will not result in children via the natural way? (as in one of the members is post-menopausal, or sterile etc) If you are not going to ban such marriages then you cannot use this reason to ban gay marriages

    A side note regarding adoptions. You have been claiming that only straight couples can adopt. Does that mean you will also ban adoption by single parents? Do you think it is better that orphans languish in state run orphanages rather than be adopted in a loving home with either one parent or two gay parents? Do you think such an attitude is compatible with liberty of not just the prospective parent(s) but that of the child being adopted?

    Regarding the second reason:

    1. Do you have proof that children raised by straight couples are better than those raised by gay couples?

    2. If in a straight couple with young children one of the partner dies would you force the other to get married ASAP since by your logic they would need a parent of the other sex to flourish. If you wouldn’t then I would submit that this reason also cannot be used to argue against gay marriages.

    3. What if a child is born out of wedlock? Would you force the parents to get married against their will?

    4. Divorce also has a deleterious effect on the development of children. Would you ban all divorces?

    That’s all I’m saying. I’m not litigating details. Sorry. I’m not fighting this issue in that space. This is not about details. It is about the big picture.

    This is willful blindness on your part. You are trying to evade the consequences of your argument. Don’t forget that the devil is in the details!

    P.S. One request Sanjeev: Is it possible to get a preview button?

  7. Ramesh

    Dear Sanjeev,

    I am not able to read everything about this. But your non support to gay marriage is indeed the justification of freedom and liberty qualified by RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY. Really I held you in high esteem. Thanks a lot.

    People who oppose you in the name of freedom and liberty are indeed perverted.

  8. Sumantra Roy


    Your comment in response to mine simply repeats your arguments without addressing any of the objections that I had raised.

    You said:

    “Marriage contract is an INSTITUTION of society. A foundational contract without which children would not exist.”

    Like I said, for your position to be true, you’d first have to prove that raising children is the ONLY purpose of marriage.

    Your entire response to my comment is along the lines of “I said so, therefore it must be so”. When I ask you to PROVE that bringing up children is the ONLY purpose of marriage, you choose not to offer any proof and choose to totally evade that question. Most likely because you KNOW that you can’t prove the correctness of your position.

    You also state that “Marriage is a PRE-DEFINED institution”.

    Pre-defined by whom?

    I am assuming your answer is “By society”.

    But what is society? Society is a group of individuals who live together. Just because a group of individuals (even if they are in a large majority) have traditionally defined marriage in a certain way does not obligate the rest of the individuals in that society to accept those definitions.

    So short of proof, what we are left with is your OPINION. Unless you PROVE the correctness of your opinions, your opinions remain just that – opinions. They need not be considered objective facts of reality.

    And while you certainly have the right to your own opinions, what you are seeking to do is what every person who supports liberty spends his/her lifetime opposing – the imposition of your opinions and moral values on other people using the coercive powers of the state.

    You have the right not to personally associate with a gay couple who call their relationship “marriage”. What you don’t have the right to do however is to prevent them from calling their relationship marriage using the coercive powers of the state – just because you THINK (but cannot PROVE) that marriage can only be between a man and a woman because you THINK (but cannot PROVE) that bringing up children is the only purpose of marriage.

    “I said so, and therefore it must be so” is not a valid method of defending your positions.

  9. Gryffindor


    Its quite common to see this resistance to any new idea/attitude/development. Its happened in the past, it still continues. the debate seems to be a direct result of such resistance.

    However, historically new developments, changes in social institutions, attitudes and ideas have gradually occurred and been accepted as part of daily existence. And these changes have been opposed mightily by many people during the transition period.

    Think about the time when love marriages were frowned upon, when
    widow remarriage and divorce were taboo.

    When Joan of Arc wanted to fight alongside male soldiers in the army , she was considered a freak and subsequently immolated.

    Now women join the army the navy and also fly to the moon.

    Over time, social institutions and attitudes have evolved, been modified, and changed to suit the changing needs of the times.
    Marriage as an institution has incorporated the basic tenets of love, companionship and mutual support along with the need for reproduction since times immemorial.

    If Mr. Sabhlok has to prove gay marriages as morally wrong or illegal or both, he needs to prove a large number of social changes in history wrong first.


  10. Polevaulter Donkeyman


    But your non support to gay marriage is indeed the justification of freedom and liberty qualified by RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

    Are you Kapil Sibal in disguise?

    But your on support to irresponsible speech (cartoons on facebook) is indeed the justification of freedom and liberty qualified by RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY


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