Gay Marriage: The Sky is Falling

Kenji Sugahara

According to opponents of gay marriage, if gay marriage is allowed, the sky will fall, fire and brimstone will billow upon the earth, the pillars of marriage will crumble before our eyes, and god will smite everyone. You know what I say to that? Baloney. Most opponents seem to base their arguments on scripture, "history", the idea that gay marriage will lead to the crumbling of the institution of marriage, and what's "best" for children.

Opponents cite the Bible in their opposition to same-sex marriage and to many behaviors that they see as “immoral”. In the 1950’s and 60’s the same arguments were made against miscegenation. As a secular nation, neither the Bible nor the Quran, nor any religious writings are the law of the land. While portions of the law are based on religious teachings, they are not based on one faith system and do not comprise the entire body of law. Leviticus is not law, and the religious right is not the final arbiter of morality nor do they have a monopoly on morality.

Many opponents argue that allowing same-sex marriage would upset over 3000 years of tradition. In ancient Rome and well into the Christian period, there is evidence that homosexual marriage was legally recognized. There is also evidence that the Church blessed same-sex unions in pre-modern Europe.

Gay marriage will not cause the the institution of marriage to crumble. If anything, heterosexuals are taking care of that. According to the Census Bureau up to 50% of all first marriages end in divorce. Chuck Colson, a conservative columnist, states that born again Christians have a higher divorce rate than those who are non-Christians, and fundamentalist Christians have the highest divorce rates. Some studies show that up to 70% of married Americans will engage in infidelity. The greatest threat to marriage is not same-sex marriage but devaluation of marriage between heterosexuals.

In addition, opponents argue the purpose of marriage is for procreation. Following the same logic, we should deny marriage to infertile couples and to couples beyond child rearing age. Opponents also argue that if we allow same-sex couples to marry, then we will eventually have to allow polygamy and incest. These are the same arguments that were made against interracial marriage, yet the sky has not fallen.

Furthermore, the Defense of Marriage Coalition, said studies have shown that "children do better" when they are raised in a "home with a mom and a dad." They continue to say that "Endless studies demonstrate the benefits to children of being raised with both a mother and father. A redefinition of marriage would permanently deny some children this proven advantage." The interesting thing? The authors of some of the research state that their research has been twisted and taken out of context. Michael Gottfredson, a criminology professor and associate chancellor at the University of California at Irvine said "That is not a legitimate use of our work." David Popenoe, a sociology professor and co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, said it would be a reasonable hypothesis to say that children of gay couples would do no worse than with opposite-sex stepparents. Glenn T. Stanton said research about the impact to children in gay households is inconclusive, but studies show children do better in school and socially when raised by a mother and father. "It's not an absolute correlation, but we know what happens when you raise kids without fathers." Inconclusive? Correlation? A correlation is one of the weakest connections you can make.

What's truly sad? People like Glenn T. Stanton say "Our concern is for the well-being of children." However, some of these individuals would rather see kids with abusive parents and drug addicted parents rather than with happily married gay couples.

Finally, same-sex marriage or its equivalent will not cause the downfall of Western Society. There are much more important problems in the world to worry about rather than worry about same-sex marriage. Furthermore, religion is a very powerful tool to bring about positive change in the world. However, opponents of same-sex marriage need to stop using religion as a tool to divide, and instead use it as a tool to heal and bring people together.

Comments

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    Well said, Kenji. My one quibble: you skimmed over the gay marriage vs. civil unions issue ("same-sex marriage or its equivalent"), which I think is a fascinating thread of the public debate.

    Personally, I'd prefer it if government got out of the business of marriage all together. I'd love it if government granted civil unions to heterosexual and homosexual couples on equal footing, with the same legal rights and responsibilities marriage currently provides. As Kenji rightly points out, we are a secular nation with a secular body of law. The word “marriage” can convey a religious as well as a secular meaning, and thus distracts from the true issue at hand for government. The role of the state in marriage is to define the rights and responsibilities of two adult persons who are entering into a contractual relationship—not to decide whether it is morally acceptable for those two consenting adults to have a relationship. Civil unions for everyone, and religious marriage ceremonies for those who choose them…sounds like a plan to me.

    Of course, I’m not naïve enough to think that this or any other state will scrap marriage licenses in favor of equal-opportunity civil unions any time soon. So, if marriage is the legal state that confers legal benefits to couples, then it should be available to all regardless of sexual orientation—it is a civil rights issue, nothing less, and “separate but equal” is not an acceptable solution.

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    Of course, I’m not naïve enough to think that this or any other state will scrap marriage licenses in favor of equal-opportunity civil unions any time soon. So, if marriage is the legal state that confers legal benefits to couples, then it should be available to all regardless of sexual orientation—it is a civil rights issue, nothing less, and “separate but equal” is not an acceptable solution.

    Just so, and properly said. I like many people (I'm surprised at how many, actually) are very hot on the "civil unions for all" approach. But, as oyu say, it's just not going to happen any time soon, if in our lifetime.

    Meanwhile, if you want to help defeat the Special Rights for Heterosexuals Coalition, there is now a No on Constitutional Amendment 36 campaign. I wrote up their kick-off event earlier today.

  • Jason Evans (unverified)
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    I did a quick study of the "history" of marriage according to the bible over on What in the Blue Hell? back in March. It was preceeded by a "history" of "traditional marriage" in America. Click here to see the biblical history of marriage. Click here to see the real history of marriage in these United States of America (the latest entry of that series is at the top), researched and split into 4 parts. I think you'll be pleased.

  • raging red (unverified)
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    "The greatest threat to marriage is not same-sex marriage but devaluation of marriage between heterosexuals."

    I also think that a threat to successful marriages is encouraging people to marry at a young age. I sometimes stop on Pat Robertson when I'm flipping through the channels, and I heard him respond to a mother's concerns about her 20-year-old daughter having sexual feelings. Good ol' Pat told her it was perfectly normal and that maybe it was time for her to get married. Not that there's anything wrong with getting married when you're 20, but encouraging your daughter to get married just so she can have sex with Pat Robertson's approval?

    I just think that villifying premarital sex and having children out of wedlock leads to bad marriages. (Just like a celibacy requirement leads to rampant child molestation in the Catholic church.)

    Why is it that people can't see that this issue [gay marriage] is so similar to the issue of interracial marriage? Opponents are driven by fear and bigotry.

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    Rachel, I couldn't agree with you more. Marriage is a quasi-religious institution. (I'll be taking a whack at the Church/State separation) I hope that marriage is moved eventually from the sphere of government wholly into the religious sphere. As you do, I agree with the Libertarian notion that there should be civil unions for everyone.

    Fear and bigotry do drive a lot of the resistance to same-sex marriage. As with anything, people simply don't and won't understand it. They lack the perspective. In essence they can't comprehend how a woman could love a woman or a man could love a man because they were likely raised in environment where they were told it was unnatural, abhorrent, against nature, or against god's will. There's also the preoccupation with sex. (Which will be the subject of an upcoming post). You take away sex from the equation and I wonder how anti-gay marriage folks would be reacting.

    There's also an interesting trend with younger generations. Younger people tend to be more accepting of gay marriage. I hypothesize that as more gays have come out and with more and more positive portrayals of gays in the media, younger folks have come to realize that there's nothing to fear. Younger folks are more likely to have friends who are gay and who are out, and are thus more likely to have that different perspective. However, it is scary how the anti-gay older establishment is trying to prevent the younger generations from sanctioning gay marriage. That's why they're trying to make it a US Constitutional amendment. That way, it would make it much more difficult for future generations to legally sanction same-sex marriage.

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