Sliding towards Gomorrah
BY Rob Clemm
One of the topics I’ve never felt up to tackling was gay marriage simply because of the feelings surrounding it. However, I will attempt to deal with this delicate issue and point out the slippery slope that seems to be emerging.
This issue should be rationally discussed, as marriage is one of the foundations for a healthy society. Marriage is what humanity has used for establishing social mores, imparting knowledge, and for creating a feeling of community, let alone procreation. This is what needs to be understood, the issue is marriage, not homosexuality. Whatever its faults, the monogamous heterosexual marriage has provided a great social good, and this is what is being threatened.
Some, such as Andrew Sullivan, have framed the debate over gay marriage, quite persuasively, around civil rights. The issue, however, is that in such a format proponents of gay marriage cannot prevent an eventual legalization of polygamy or polyamory. Polygamy is the marriage of one man to multiple women and polyamory is group marriage, or as I like to call it “swingers who are too lazy to leave the house.”
Now this seems harsh, but if homosexuals have the “right” for the state to sanctify their relationship, there is nothing to prevent any other group for declaring their “right” to a relationship, whether it is multiple partners or simply those wanting marital benefits. Once the institution is done away with, all that remains is a series of relationship contracts. As columnist Maggie Gallagher has put it, “Without this shared, public aspect, perpetuated generation after generation, marriage becomes what its critics say it is – a mere contract, a vessel with no particular content, one of a menu of sexual lifestyles, of no fundamental importance to anyone outside a given relationship.”
I would consider this a bit of a stretch if it weren’t for the fact that some of the highest proponents of gay marriage indeed wish to see marriage ended. Gay rights activists who opposed marriage before since they saw it as giving into “assimilation,” are now supporting gay marriage realizing that this is the best way to do away with it. This is not a screed against the gay community. Professor Alan J. Hawkins of Brigham Young University has suggested that if the trend continues it will be heterosexuals who will abuse the system. With monogamy done away with, and the “civil right” of marriage ensuring no marital contract can be voided – heterosexuals with no commitment at all can abuse the system.
A poor mother with three kids who needs help, could join with a close female friend in “holy matrimony,” solely to gain the benefits the government affords married couples. These arrangements, says Hawkins, “would turn marriage into the moral equivalent of a Social Security benefit.” These are very critical points to be discussing, yet we aren’t. Opposition is simply labeled “homophobia” and passed over – yet these points need answering. Or indeed we might, to borrow Yeats, slide down the slippery slope not to Bethlehem but Gomorrah.
Clemm can be reached at email@example.com
Home Grown Values
BY Kenny Thierer
grew up in a “traditional” Catholic home. My dad worked while my mom stayed at home and raised me and my two sisters. To this day we are fiercely close to each other. I believe in family values because I value my family.
Now, many people are saying that we must defend the institution of marriage, advocating the continued exclusion of homosexuals from the definition of marriage. Do they know what it is that they are defending? Forty percent of first time marriages end in divorce. Thirty-three percent of children in this country are born to unmarried parents.
These statistics are living proof that marriages are suffering in this country, but these statistics don’t have anything to do with gay marriage. Conversely, social liberals support gay marriage, usually citing the many legal benefits that a married couple receives. But is marriage really just about visiting rights and a joint tax return?
On the basis of my faith, I refuse to believe that. Marriage has traditionally been defined in my faith as the union between a man and a woman, but the union is key. I love the verse 1 Corinthians 7:4 – “A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife.”
A married couple have committed to love, cherish, honor and obey their spouse. It is a commitment sworn to last until “death do they part.” From being two separate lives, they become interdependent, as it says in Matthew 19:5 – “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” Each spouse must now plan their life around the other.
Such a commitment is something that many people, including myself, hope for in our lives. I believe that a strong marriage is an incredible gift for those involved and is well worth the efforts necessary to make it work. I don’t believe only heterosexuals are capable of making this commitment.
The desire to have a partner with whom to go through life and start a family isn’t unique to the heterosexual orientation. It is my hope that same sex couples want marriage not for the legal benefits but because they value commitment and the desire to start a family. If this is predominately their goal, their marriages will strengthen the institution.
Traditionally, marriage has been between a man and a woman. However, as recently as 50 years ago, we could have added that the man was the “breadwinner” while the woman was the “homemaker.” This is clearly no longer the case. As Massachusetts shall soon have to provide a marriage option for same-sex couples, we shall see the first same-sex marriages in the United States. The path these couples take is controversial to say the least. Nevertheless, I applaud their bravery and initiative, as well as their dedication to an institution valued greatly.
Thierer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BY Richard Tipton
Any survey of Supreme Court litigation concerning the rights and liberties of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals reveals a startling finding – the Constitution is a lot friendlier to gays today than it has been at any time in American history. The advent of this unprecedented judicial alliance with the gay community, while representing a major shift in American jurisprudence, is not without its historical antecedents.
The relatively recent doctrine of substantive due process has been used by courts to abrogate laws which deny citizens the liberty to use contraception or abort pregnancies. Justices have argued that a right to privacy can be inferred from the Constitution, although no such right is explicitly expressed. Court observers wondered whether the Griswold-Roe line of reasoning could be used to invalidate bans on such activities as prostitution or homosexual sodomy.
Initially, gays would not see gains through litigation. In 1986, the Supreme Court rejected a Georgia man’s claim that substantive due process required an invalidation of a state law penalizing homosexual sodomy. The Court also refused to review the validity of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in two cases involving discharged gay naval officers. The tide began to turn in 1996. That year the Court used the Equal Protection Clause to invalidate a Colorado law enacted to ban any legislative action designed to aid or protect homosexuals by reason of their sexual orientation. Then in July of 2003, the court overruled its 1986 sodomy opinion.
This leads us to where we are today. With the courts ever-willing to vindicate the rights of gays and lesbians, it seems inevitable that statutes discriminating against homosexual couples will have to face tough scrutiny in state and federal courts. The soundest rea
ding of the Constitution requires the dissolution of these statutes. Today it does not seem so unlikely to believe that the long-standing practice of denying gays the right to marriage will end someday soon. However, this momentous shift will not come without intense battling from both sides of the Kulturkampf.
Opponents of gay marriage point to the spiritual underpinnings of the institution. Proponents of this sanctimonious view of marriage offer the underwhelming argument that sanctioning gay marriage is properly the province of the church, not the state. Hence the state should not recognize homosexual unions as equal to heterosexual unions ordained by the church. However, these arguments elude the fact that state recognition of marriage occurs without regard to religious sanctioning of marriage – a heterosexual atheist couple can enter into a state-sanctioned marriage just as easily as any other heterosexual couple.
Furthermore, equal protection requires nothing short of conferring state recognition to gay marriage. As Justice Harlan wrote, “the Constitution neither knows nor tolerates classes among its citizens.” Lesbian and gay couples, although often unable to secure religious sanction for marriage, are nevertheless entitled to liberties afforded all American citizens. Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses without protections for unpopular, marginalized, and suspect minorities are like Hamlet without a prince – the 14th Amendment means nothing if its dictates fail to be a sentinel for insulated groups.
Tipton can be reached at email@example.com.
They aren’t good enough?
BY George Bruhn
The topic of gay marriage is now a hot one, made so by Canada’s legalization of it and the recent ruling in Massachusetts. How do I feel about gay marriage? In and of itself, I don’t feel much of anything, but I think that it is inexcusable to allow institutionalized prejudice, even if it has been a part of our culture since the beginning.
I believe that the constitution of this country is made to give as much freedom as possible to individuals to live as they wish, regardless of the moral standards of others. It is therefore imperative to legally recognize as legitimate a union between same-sex couples as they do traditional marriage.
Disregarding the word “marriage,” there are the benefits that I feel should be extended to all committed partners, such as the right to hospital visitation and the transfer of property upon death. To deny these rights to any pairing of individuals who love each other is a disgusting violation of this basic principle, as doing it indicates a governmental stand that one’s way of life isn’t as good as that of those who conform to the standard model.
In an effort to legitimize this prejudice, the opponents put forth that this will “destroy the family.” How? If I have a family, and there is a gay couple next door, what possible difference would that make to the functioning of my family if they are married? Perhaps what they mean is that allowing gay couples to marry would wreck their pristine conception of the traditional nuclear family as being the only correct and existence-worthy setup.
We have here a bigotry that they dance around, scared to state it explicitly. They respond with silence and tension at the allowance of gays to live and work, but still feel that their relationships are not legitimate – that they somehow lack the substance, commitment and love that would be achieved by straight couples, or people pretending to be straight to appease the status quo.
In talking with a friend about the equal rights of gays, I brought up my belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to raise children, at which point he stopped me in my tracks with the idea that a child raised in such a household wouldn’t be brought up in a “moral” environment. What the hell does that even mean?
A child raised by gays will not receive the same quality of moral instruction as one raised by straight people? Are homosexuals by their very nature dishonest and abusive? Far worse – if a child is raised by homosexuals, then he or she might think that it’s okay to be gay, and the communicable disease of homosexuality might spread – and woe to my hypothetical family that lives next door!
This is what every argument that I have heard against my view boils down to, plus religious reasons. Even if every person in the United States were Catholic, it is reprehensible to impose Catholic reasons for public policy. The question at the bottom of it is this – are gay people equal to straight people in the eyes of the law, or are they subhuman? If they are equal, then the answer to the gay marriage question should be obvious.
Bruhn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.