Read Part I here.
*Rhetoric is winning the day. Both Christians and non-Christians supported same sex marriage, and employed a healthy dose of rhetoric and buzz words heavily laden with emotional meaning to assert their views. Most, though not all, hadn’t a clue what those buzzwords meant.
*”You’re advocating discrimination!” Not in that sense, no. It’s the same discrimination made towards polygamy, polyamory, polyandry or any other relationship that doesn’t serve a social purpose as effectively as a marriage with one mother and father. Prop 8 draws distinctions among different types of relationships–same as when the law refuses to put two college roomies living together on par with a married man and woman, but it does not discriminate towards individuals.
*”You’re denying gays and lesbians equality and fairness. You’ve got the right to marry and they don’t.” Actually, gays and lesbian individuals have the exact same rights as I. Any gay man can marry any woman of any race that consents and is of the minimum age, and the same is the case with me. What ssm advocates are pressing for is the elimination of the gender requirement and the wholesale changing of the meaning of marriage. At bottom, the principle behind all this is the notion that marriage is a mere social construction, that anyone can define a family any way he chooses, with government/societal approval. Nature no longer defines the institution, it is subject to whim. When this idea takes root, there will be plenty of negative consequences.
I realize this might not hit you square between the eyes, so let me elaborate by quoting Greg Koukl:
“Smith and Jones both qualify to vote in America where they are citizens. Neither is allowed to vote in France. Jones, however, has no interest in U.S. politics; he’s partial to European concerns. Would Jones have a case if he complained, “Smith gets to vote [in California], but I don’t get to vote [in France]. That‚s unequal protection under the law. He has a right I don’t have.” No, both have the same rights and the same restrictions. There is no legal inequality, only an inequality of desire, but that is not the state’s concern. The marriage licensing law applies to each citizen in the same way; everyone is treated exactly alike. Homosexuals want the right to do something no one, straight or gay, has the right to do: wed someone of the same sex. Denying them that right is not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.”
*Many mentioned “love” as a reason why they support same sex marriage. In other words, we should love and accept gays and lesbians, showing compassion for them. I agree fully with that. My discussion partners carried that on further, however, suggesting that means lending support for same sex marriage. My question: does “love” mean you must support and accept everything the beloved does or desires? I’m glad my parents, friends, and co-workers don’t think so. Whenever I do something that is morally wrong, harmful to myself, or harmful to others, many voices step in to voice loving opposition. A few friends knocked some sense into me during my college days when I chased around a few girls that were bad news. This is common sense to most of us, but why does this ethic suddenly fly the coup when it comes to homosexual behavior? It is this lifestyle and behavior which same-sex marriage legitimizes by government fiat (it does other destructive things too). Most ssm advocates will admit this, that its not about benefits and such: it is about social acceptance of homosexual relationships. SSM places homosexual relationships on par with heterosexual ones, and this is what they’re after.
*Now, I know many earnestly desire such acceptance. Even if I conceded that it social acceptance of homosexual relationships is a thing to be desired, why think it’s a “right”?
*How does same sex marriage harm others and society? How do legitimizing homosexual relationships do so? Many have misconstrued this issue by making it an individual thing. They’ve asked, incredulously, “Rich, how does the homosexual couple next door hurt you at all?” The answer is that it doesn’t, but that’s not the issue.
Ideas have consequences. Let’s start there. The ideas of the “sexual revolution” of the 60′s, for instance, have wreaked havoc on society. Ask anyone who grew up in a divorced home how those ideas have affected them. Yes, the bedroom …activity of the couple next door might not affect *me* as an individual, but we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about ideas and morality enforced through public policy. The striking down of Prop 8, by the way, was an enforcement of certain ideas and morality regarding marriage. We conservatives aren’t the only ones seeking to enforce ideas and morality through law.
Cars are designed for a purpose, with certain specifications of use. If I piss in the gas tank or drive it on the bottom of a lake (if I use it against its design, in other words), its going to break down. Likewise, humans are designed too. This design shows itself on every plane: physical, emotional, relational, sexual, etc. If someone behaves in a way that cuts against that design, problems happen. If I drink myself into a stupor every weekend, my liver is gonna shrivel to the size of a rasin. And so on. When it comes to homosexual behavior, this is easiest to see on the physical plane (no anatomy lesson needed), but you can see it on the other planes too: relationally, men and women fit like “hand in glove.” There is something that each gender possesses that the other lacks. It’s not just that they’re merely “different,” but complimentary. And it’s not a mere personality or feelings issue either, as in “my friend and I really get along well,” or “my romantic partner and I ‘click.’ I feel alive when we’re together!” but a deeper, more fundamental nature thing…anyone, religious or none, can see this.
For more specifics, some chapters in the books Straight and Narrow? Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexual Debate* has some.
*Children need and deserve a relationship with both his/her mom and dad. The optimal family structure for a child’s well being is one in which a mom and a dad are present. I reckognize, of course, that not every kid gets this. Some come from single parent homes, and it is not always due to that single parent. In these situations, we do all we can to care and support that parent and the child. Some children from these homes turn out allright afterall, oftentimes due to the heroic efforts of the single parent or a close mentor. For some, one parent is abusive, and its better to be away from that adult. Whatever the situation, though, very few would go on to balk at the general principle above, and few would suggest that those family structures are just as preferrable to those with a mother and father.
There is a boat load of research backing this up (see the footnotes), but you don’t need to pour over studies to see that. Experience confirms it as well. When I worked as a teacher in an inner city school, if I had a dollar for every tired and haggard single mom that came through my classroom door dragging an out of control teenage boy with her, no father in sight, I coulda retired a while back. If I were a bettin’ man, I’d bet she’d prefer to have a father in the picture.
Legalizing same sex marriage scoffs at the principle by asserting that there’s no real benefit to having both a mother and a father in the home. Everything jr gets from dad he can get from another mom, and everything jr gets from mom he can get from another man. We really should pause and ponder before we embrace that idea.
*Question for those who advocate for same sex marriage: do you really believe that men and women are completely interchangeable as parents?
*I also reckognize that not every marriage has children in it. Some earnestly desire to conceive, but for some reason can’t, while others remain childless by choice for one reason or another. If I may use a humorous illustration: not everyone uses ash trays for ashes…some use them for food. Just because some use an ash tray as a food container, though, doesn’t negate its intended use…in the same manner, just because some marriages don’t have children doesn’t mean that bonding mother and father to child and mother and father to each other is not an essential purpose of marriage. Exceptions don’t trump the general principle.
*A few in the discussions brought up our racial past, seeking to make a connection. You know, the ‘ol “they said the same thing about interracial marriage way back when.” There’s one huge difference here: race is incidental to marriage, but gender is essential to it. There are no significant differences to differing races that matter to marriage. Just look at it biologically: men of any race and women of any race have the plumbing to “get the job done.” A white man can mate with a black woman and produce a healthy child. There are enormous differences between the genders, though, that matter tremendously to marriage and raising children. Again, think of it biologically. As I’ve already mentioned, the same applies when it comes to raising children. The genders are complimentary.
Dennis Prager puts it nicely:
There are enormous differences between men and women, but there are no differences between people of different races. Men and women are inherently different, but blacks and whites (and yellows and browns) are inherently the same. Therefore, any imposed separation by race can never be moral or even rational; on the other hand, separation by sex can be both morally desirable and rational. Separate bathrooms for men and women is moral and rational; separate bathrooms for blacks and whites is not.
Frank Beckwith elaborates more on the legal side why the analogy fails.
*At this point I should probably mention the recent studies that purported to show that kids do as well with same sex parents as they do with opposite sex parents, because someone mentioned those studies. When I asked her for details, she failed to provide any, preferring instead to ridicule. There are two that I’m aware of. One comes from the United States National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study and the other is a summary of studies by Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz.
Both have been subject to much criticism. For the first, the sample size was quite small–78 children born to lesbian couples, plus a control group. In addition, the lesbian couples were not randomly sampled, but instead recruited from lesbian and gay groups/communities. It might be tough to get a random sample for a study like this, but the mere fact that they were non-randomly selected volunteers biases the results.
Furthermore, ethnicity and region of residence differs between the groups too. There were many more minorities and those from the South in the control group. As much as we might not like to admit it, that skews the results too. Finally, the study made heavy, though not exclusive, use of self-reporting from the lesbian mothers.
As to the second, the authors actually end up saying that women are better: two women are better than a man and a woman. In other words, totally get rid of dad, because he is disposable. This is far different from saying the gender of parents doesn’t matter (which is controversial enough). Here are a few quotes:
“Two women who choose to parent together provide a ‘double dose of middle-class feminine approach to parenting.’”
“Women parenting without men scored higher on warmth and quality of interactions with their children than not only fathers, but also mothers who coparent with husbands.”
“If contemporary mothering and fathering seem to be converging,… research shows that sizable average differences remain that consistently favor women, inside or outside of marriage.”
(HT: Jennifer Roback-Morse)
This should give us great, great pause in jumping on the Stacey-Biblarz bandwagon. We ought not blithely throw these studies around gleefully. The idea that fathers really aren’t needed, for one, has been tried on extensively in the inner cities and found wanting. More is found here.
At some point, dissenters usually respond by saying, “well, I was raised by only my mom, and I turned out ok.” I’m glad, and many single parents deserve a huge pat on the back and much support, but it is odd that when we are talking about general societal trends, people’s first response is to turn it a) individual (*I* turned out ok), and b) feelings focused (I didn’t *feel* a difference). We’re so individualistic that that is our knee jerk reaction.
Remember, I nor anyone else is saying that any and all kids raised by some arrangement other than a mother and father will 100% turn out “bad” or that you as an individual are “messed up.” I don’t know your situation individually. I just know the trends and I know the human design I see in nature. What I am saying is that there is a huge trend in society that shows moms and dads matter. Statistically and generally experientially, it affects children. Check out the links I provided, and think back to my illustration with the inner city. Sure, in my time as a teacher there, I met plenty of well-adjusted kids raised by single parents, or in some cases, same-gender parents. But those were dwarfed by the numbers the other way.