Millions of voters turned out across the country on Nov. 2 to defend tradition against activist judges by changing the one thing beyond those judges’ reach – their constitutions. Eleven states passed constitutional amendments affirming that if two people are not of opposite sex, they cannot marry. The question is – why?
The most prominent argument is tradition. Marriage has always been between a man and a woman, and these amendments are simply trying to preserve that. The problem is that a history of discrimination cannot excuse its continuance. The strength of tradition is illusory without merited reasoning behind it, and in terms of state-granted privileges religious conviction it is not merited reasoning for discrimination. Then there is the ever-popular “slippery slope” argument. If we condone same-sex marriage, how far are such things as pedophilia or bestiality? The difference is that adults can enter into legally binding contracts, whereas children and animals cannot.
Another frequent argument is the naturalistic one, that homosexuality is outside the natural order and should not be condoned or encouraged by the government. This is patently ridiculous. Homosexuality appears spontaneously in humans and in other animals. It is not a subversive construct, it is simply a part of how species operate. Closely related is the argument that they are not functional – they don’t contribute to society by producing children. Then again, neither do sterile couples, nor those who simply decide not to have children – they are not denied marriage. There are societal benefits beyond reproduction to marriage, such as increasing productivity and decreasing violent crime
Staying on the topic of children, there is the fear that same-sexed couples who are allowed to marry will be able to adopt children more easily, and without a mother and a father the children would not have sound upbringings. Scientific study does not bear this fear out. I invite you to refer to Tasker and Golombok’s “Adults raised as children in lesbian families.”
As a nation, our founding principles include individual rights and equality. To deny a segment of the population the privileges granted to the majority, the privilege to be recognized by the state as unified with the one they love, based on no good reason other than fear of change or hate of differences, flies in the face of those principles.
There is no reason to deny that privilege to a citizen based on the sex of their loved one, and it is a shame that the unexamined fears of the majority have allowed bigotry to be written into the highest documents of 11 more states in our union.
Aldridge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.