The nation’s attention is riveted on the Proposition 8 controversy in California. I just read a post on another conservative blog I frequent, where the author and a dozen commenters all praised gay marriage. As I think this is an important conversation, I’m re-posting something I put on here four months ago. The original is here. I also recommend an essay called “The Divine Institution of Marriage.”
Reviewing my post on gay marriage last week, as well as the comments on it here and on other people’s blogs, has brought a few more ideas to mind. In previous material, I’ve belabored the fact that my analysis of gay marriage is based on religious beliefs and an objective understanding of the factors involved, with no ill will towards anybody, homosexual or otherwise. As that olive branch has already been either taken at face value or rejected by individual readers, I will forego it here and proceed with my opinions.
“How would gay marriage hurt my marriage?” It wouldn’t, of course. The only things out there that could hurt my marriage are Norah Jones and Drew Barrymore. The odds of that, however, are pretty low. Darn restraining orders.
“OK, Mr. Funny Man, how would it hurt any marriage?” This is like asking how legalized drugs would hurt any individual non-drug user. Directly, it might not. But a climate where formerly-illicit things are available quickly becomes a climate where such things are desired and encouraged, and the traditional alternative—sobriety—declines.
Is increasing homosexual activity a detriment to a stable society, then? At least in the sense that it compromises the integrity of the traditional family unit, yes. I suspect the wife and children of former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey would agree with that. If my previous reference to desegregating public bathrooms based on gender (here) wasn’t eye-opening, then try this one, which gives a good example of the slippery-slope in action.
It’s easy to brush that off as paranoid, but if there’s nothing to the slippery-slope theory of social disintegration, then how do we account for the drastic increase in (and tolerance of) cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, divorce, and, for that matter, things like tattoos and body piercings, in recent decades? After all, if anyone had suggested one day in 1973 that we instantly undergo all the social transformation that we’ve actually had over the last 35 years, they would have been scorned by even the most progressive liberals. Does anyone think that legalizing gay marriage would be the very last such demand for social experimentation to which we would be asked to adjust?
A society can allow everything, allow nothing, or compromise somewhere in between. As the first two options are totalitarian, the third must be the rational recourse. “Compromise” sounds all fine and good, but it still means drawing a line for acceptable behavior somewhere, and if you draw a line anywhere, then you’re going to have people, even a lot of good people, on one side of it feeling disenfranchised. There’s just no way around it.
Think of it this way: why do governments regulate marriage at all? Well, why does government regulate anything (other than because there’s profit involved for them)? They do it because it’s their job to maintain an atmosphere in which their nation may be successful. The only relevant question here is this: would allowing homosexuals to have their relationships be recognized and given the same status as heterosexual marriage be beneficial to society?
What does a heterosexual marriage produce that benefits society? It produces an obligation on adult partners to be hard working and law abiding for the good of their family. The sociological research on the commitments of homosexual couples is sketchy, at best, but I don’t see that experimenting with the situation to see if it gets any better is really a responsible course of action. What we’ve seen so far is that the law of unintended consequences promises to wreak havoc on our already ailing society if we blur the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behavior any further. (The sad, tragic case of poor little Isabella Miller provides an instructive cautionary tale.)
Which brings us to the issue of children. Ultimately, society institutes marriage—with all the moral codes that surround it—so that children may be raised to continue that society. The contrarian argument here now says, “So what about infertile couples? By that logic, they shouldn’t marry.” But that ignores adoption. So shouldn’t gay couples be allowed to adopt?
Does a gay two-parent home offer the same benefits as a heterosexual two-parent home? On one thing, the research is convincing: the traditional mom-and-dad family is by far the best way for a child to be raised. Proponents of gay marriage do themselves a grave disservice when they then point to divorce and infidelity and say their plan is no worse. That’s like saying that meth isn’t as bad as heroin.
Yes, where children are involved the only acceptable position is the very best one: being raised by loving, involved, biological parents. All of society’s power should be directed towards promoting that goal. Suggesting that we change the standard which has been successfully enshrined by every major civilization in history just to accommodate the wishes of some adults, with no evidence that it won’t harm society’s children the way that we can reasonably infer that it will, is simply not something we can condone.
Comments are welcome, but let’s be mature here: no insisting that those who disagree with you, no matter what they say, must be drooling Nazis; also, since it’s been the basis of the success of Western Civilization for thousands of years, let’s not breezily dismiss the doctrines of the Judeo-Christian tradition just because it’s convenient to do so.