[Note: I am referring to "same-gender marriage" as opposed to "same-sex marriage" because I feel that the first term is more accurate. In California and many other states, including some states with laws and/or constitutional amendments endorsing marriage discrimination, two people of the same chromosomal/anatomical birth sex can marry, provided that one of them had fully medically transitioned. Marriages between trans men and cis women (or trans women and cis men) are already legal. Marriages between two people with differing biological sexes, but of the same gender, are illegal-- as soon as my partner has an orchiectomy or GRS, we will not be allowed to marry in the State of Wisconsin.]
This article is essentially a re-hash of the same talking points that social conservatives always trot out when arguing that it's necessary to write marriage discrimination against non-heterosexual couples into the law. Here they are (some have been excerpted):
1. Homosexual marriage degrades a time-honored institution
Homosexual marriage is an empty pretense that lacks the fundamental sexual complementariness of male and female. And like all counterfeits, it cheapens and degrades the real thing... The eminent Harvard sociologist, Pitirim Sorokin, analyzed cultures spanning several thousand years on several continents, and found that virtually no society has ceased to regulate sexuality within marriage as traditionally defined, and survived.
The assertion that homosexual marriage is "counterfeit" rests on an extralegal definition of marriage--when it comes right down to it, fundamentalists have no interest in the law beyond ensuring that it conforms to their religious philosophy. They routinely refer to same-gender marriages in Massachusetts and Canada as "counterfeit", even though they are legally recognized in those jurisdictions, and usually also put the word "marriage" in quotation marks. Relying on an extralegal, purely religious definition of marriage essentially rejects the rule of law-- it's one more subtle hint that these people's ultimate aim is theocracy.
2. Homosexual marriage would radically redefine marriage to include virtually any sexual behavior.Once marriage is no longer confined to a man and a woman, and the sole criterion becomes the presence of "love" and "mutual commitment," it is impossible to exclude virtually any "relationship" between two or more partners of either sex... The movement to redefine marriage has already found full expression in what is variously called "polyfidelity" or "polyamory," which seeks to replace traditional marriage with a bewildering array of sexual combinations among various groups of individuals.
In the first place, the movement for legal recognition of same-gender marriages is separate from the movement to legalize group marriages, and it is erroneous to imply that the two groups always agree with each other. In the second place, as I understand it, polyamorous people are more likely to have multiple two-person (occasionally three-person) relationships, rather than one, say, eight-person relationship. Many also have a higher level of commitment to a primary partner, and thus wouldn't be interested in marrying every person they have a relationship with. [I'm not poly myself, and if any poly readers take issue with my characterization of polyamory, feel free to correct me.] In short, same-gender marriage does not equal group marriage.
3. Homosexual marriage is not a civil rights issue
Defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman would not deny homosexuals the basic civil rights accorded other citizens. Nowhere in the Bill of Rights or in any legislation proceeding from it are homosexuals excluded from the rights enjoyed by all citizens--including the right to marry. However, no citizen has the unrestricted right to marry whomever they want. A person cannot marry a child, a close blood relative, two or more spouses, or the husband or wife of another person. Such restrictions are based upon the accumulated wisdom not only of Western civilization but also of societies and cultures around the world for millennia.Yes, LG people currently have the right to legally recognized marriages-- but only to marriages of convenience, to people for whom they by definition do not and cannot feel romantic love. I would suspect that fundamentalists would argue that loveless marriages of convenience among heterosexuals make a mockery of marriage, and yet these loveless unions are considered entirely appropriate for homosexuals. Restrictions on adults marrying children rest on the issue of informed consent-- a child cannot consent to marriage or to sexual activity. The consent argument also precludes bestiality. Restrictions on incestuous marriages are in place because of their high risk of perpetuating genetic diseases, and because of the likelihood that one party has been manipulated by the other into the relationship (particularly in the case of parent-child incest). Neither the informed consent argument, the genetic risk argument, nor the manipulation argument can be reasonably applied to same-gender unions between consenting, unrelated adults.
Restrictions on marrying more than one person are actually a fairly recent cultural phenomenon (in the grand scheme of things), not something endorsed by "societies and cultures around the world for millenia". Most societies worldwide have actually been polygamous-- specifically, polygynous (one husband with multiple wives). An Ethnographic Atlas Codebook study of 1,231 societies found that 588 had "frequent polygyny", 453 had "occasional polygyny", 4 practiced polyandry (one wife having multiple husbands), and only 186 were monogamous.
4. Upholding traditional marriage is not "discrimination"
Discrimination occurs when someone is unjustly denied some benefit or opportunity. But it must first be demonstrated that such persons deserve to be treated equally regarding the point in question. For example, FAA and airline regulations rightly discriminate regarding who is allowed into the cockpit of an airplane... Homosexual activists conveniently avoid the question of whether homosexual relationships merit being granted equality with marriage. Although not strictly comparable, radically altering the definition of marriage can also pose dangers to society in much the same way as permitting unqualified individuals to fly airplanes.In their last point, FRC seemed to argue that LG people were already being treated equally under the law; in this point, they argue that equal treatment isn't always "just", and thus is not warranted in the case of same-gender marriage-- they're contradicting themselves. They admit that their own example-- unlicensed pilots flying airplanes-- is "not strictly comparable", but use it anyway, presumably because they can't come up with a better one. The pilot analogy is false because first because flying an airplane is a skill that requires hundreds of hours to learn, and secondly because allowing unlicensed pilots to fly would result in thousands of deaths every year. Getting married does not require technical expertise and permitting same-gender couples equality in marriage will not kill anyone, and the FRC knows that, whether they like to admit it or not.
The FRC fails to cite any "strictly comparable" situations in which unequal treatment is just. They also duck the fact that the Supreme Court of California decided that same-gender couples do "deserve to be treated equally regarding the point in question".
The statement that supporters of marriage equality for same-gender couples "avoid the question of whether homosexual relationships merit being granted equality with marriage" is not supportable. In fact, the entire movement is built around that question, and upon demonstrating that same-gender partnerships can be just as stable and loving as heterosexual partnerships, and that legally recognizing them is ultimately good for society.
5. Any comparison with interracial marriage is phony
Laws against interracial marriage sought to add a requirement to marriage that is not intrinsic to the institution of marriage. Allowing a black man to marry a white woman, or vice versa, does not change the fundamental definition of marriage, which requires a man and a woman. Homosexual marriage, on the other hand, is the radical attempt to discard this most basic requirement for marriage. Those who claim that some churches held interracial marriage to be morally wrong fail to point out that such "moral objection" to interracial marriage stemmed from cultural factors rather than historic and widely-accepted biblical teaching.
Whether or not the FRC will admit it, different societies have different "fundamental definitions of marriage", including the expected duration of the union (anywhere from a single day to a lifetime); which parties, if any, have the right to dissolve that union (among Orthodox Jews, a wife cannot seek a divorce without her husband's consent); the purpose of the union (economic, political, and/or romantic); the number of spouses any person is permitted to have (see my critique of point 3, above); and, yes, the biological sex and/or gender of the partners (a Cherokee friend of mine tells me that in traditional Cherokee society, two men could marry as long as one was willing to assume the economic function of a woman). Thus, current legal prohibition of same-gender marriage is also due to cultural factors, not to some inherent cross-cultural norm.
19th-century Americans (and some 20th-century Americans) believed that interracial marriage violated the "fundamental definition of marriage", often using Biblical passages to support their belief. It was, at that time, a "widely-accepted biblical teaching". Furthermore, in this country, "biblical teaching" is not a valid legal argument, because the United States is not a theocracy.
6. Homosexual marriage would subject children to unstable home environments
Many homosexuals and their sex partners may sincerely believe they can be good parents. But children are not guinea pigs for grand social experiments in redefining marriage, and should not be placed in settings that are unsuitable for raising children.
· Transient relationships: While a high percentage of married couples remain married for up to 20 years or longer, with many remaining wedded for life, the vast majority of homosexual relationships are short-lived and transitory. This has nothing to do with alleged "societal oppression." A study in the Netherlands , a gay-tolerant nation that has legalized homosexual marriage, found the average duration of a homosexual relationship to be one and a half years.
· Serial promiscuity: Studies indicate that while three-quarters or more of married couples remain faithful to each other, homosexual couples typically engage in a shocking degree of promiscuity. The same Dutch study found that "committed" homosexual couples have an average of eight sexual partners (outside of the relationship) per year. Children should not be placed in unstable households with revolving bedroom doors.
Referring to someone's committed, long-time romantic partner as their "sex partner" is odious. Homosexual relationships are not about sex any more than heterosexual relationships are; they are about emotional intimacy. Yes, we do love each other, every bit as deeply as you do. We support each other emotionally and financially, comfort each other in times of loss, share homes, build lives together, share our innermost thoughts with each other. Our long-term relationships usually include sex-- but so do yours. FRC director Tony Perkins would be horrified if someone referred to his wife as his "sex partner", though she probably is. (Assuming the Perkinses have a healthy sex life, which I hope they do.)
"There is no evidence to suggest or support that parents with a gay, lesbian, or bisexual orientation are per se different from or deficient in parenting skills, child-centered concerns and parent-child attachments, when compared to parents with a heterosexual orientation. It has long been established that a homosexual orientation is not related to psychopathology, and there is no basis on which to assume that a parental homosexual orientation will increase likelihood of or induce a homosexual orientation in the child. Outcome studies of children raised by parents with a homosexual or bisexual orientation, when compared to heterosexual parents, show no greater degree of instability in the parental relationship or developmental dysfunction in children."
FRC and like-minded organizations ignore these statements and the research supporting them solely because it contradicts their religious beliefs.
The article's assertion that most same-gender relationships are "transient" and "the average duration of a homosexual relationship to be one and a half years" is based on the so-called "Dutch study", one of the most oft-distorted pieces of research on LGBT people. FRC neglects to mention that the purpose of the study was not to track the fidelity of same-gender couples, but rather to study the spread of HIV. According to Box Turtle Bulletin's excellent explanation of the Dutch study,
These studies began in 1984, and had several different protocols in their lifetime:
- Oct 1984-1985: Gay men aged 18-65 with at least two sexual partners in the previous six months. In other words, monogamous partners were explicitly excluded.
- April 1985-Feb 1988: Study enrollment was continued, except HIV-negative men were now excluded. Only HIV-positive men were added.
- Feb 1988 – Dec 1988: The study was re-opened to HIV-negative men.
- Various additional enrollments continued from through 1998. Especially notable was a special recruitment campaign for men under the age of thirty beginning in 1995. After 1996, all men above the age of thirty were dropped from the study. Their data was excluded from subsequent analyses.
- Nobody outside of Amsterdam was accepted into the study except for AIDS patients who attended clinics in Amsterdam for treatment. This makes the study almost exclusively an urban one.
It is unsurprising that study excluding monogamous participants, and skewed toward AIDS patients, would show that participants tended to have short-lived relationships and multiple sex partners. This doesn't mean that a broad-based study would have the same results. Furthermore, the study tracked all relationships the men had, not just committed relationships. When the study took place, homosexual couples could not yet marry in the Netherlands, so there was no subset of married participants to track separately. Even apart from the other problems it poses, using this study to make a statement about the presumed longevity of same-gender marriages is akin to predicting the heterosexual divorce rate by including dating couples, not just married ones. Also, as Box Turtle Bulletin points out,
By keeping the age of the sample population to those thirty and under, this artificially limits the length of time any of them could have been in a “steady relationship”. You’re certainly not going to find any twenty-nine-year-olds in thirty-year relationships, or even fifteen-year ones.
In other words, this study demonstrates nothing about the environments in which same-gender couples who have made a lifelong commitment to one another raise their children.
7. Homosexual activists have a political agenda: to radically redefine the institution of marriage
Homosexual activists admit that their goal is not simply to make the definition of marriage more "inclusive," but to remake it in their own hedonistic image. Paula Ettelbrick, former legal director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, states, "Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality, and family, and ... transforming the very fabric of society." Homosexual writer and activist Michelangelo Signorile rejects monogamy in favor of "a relationship in which the partners have sex on the outside often ... and discuss their outside sex with each other, or share sex partners."
FRC is hardly in a position to condemn anyone for "hav[ing] a political agenda".
Unfortunately, Ettelbrick and Signorile's remarks were taken out of context, so I can't easily fact-check to see whether or not the article is misrepresenting their views. Even if it is not, FRC should not assume that their views reflect those of the majority of LGBT Americans. Many of us are monogamous. According to a recent study of gay and lesbian youth by the Rockway Institute,
Researchers found that "more than 90 percent of females and more than 80 percent of males expect to be partnered in a monogamous relationship after age 30." About 67 percent of males and 55 percent of females expressed the desire to raise children. In terms of adoption, 42 percent of males and 32 percent of females said they were likely to adopt children.
8. If victorious, the homosexual agenda will lead to the persecution of those who object on moral or religious grounds
If homosexual marriage becomes the law of the land, then children in public schools will be taught that homosexuality is a normative lifestyle, and that gay households are just another "variant" style of family. Those who object may find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Unbelievable? This Orwellian situation has occurred in Massachusetts , which legalized homosexual marriage in 2004. In April 2005, David Parker, the parent of a six-year-old boy, protested to the Lexington elementary school after his son was taught about homosexual "families" in his kindergarten class. At a scheduled meeting at the school, when Parker refused to back down from his request that the school honor the Massachusetts parental notification statute, he was arrested for "trespassing," handcuffed, and put in jail overnight... In 2007, Parker's lawsuit against the Lexington school officials was dismissed by a federal judge who refused to uphold his civil rights and to enforce the Massachusetts parental notification statute. Parker's shocking story will become commonplace in a society that forces the acceptance of homosexual marriage as normative.
The instruction young Jacob Parker supposedly received about same-gender parents was actually merely mentioning that they existed, and it didn't even take place within the school itself. According to Box Turtle Bulletin,
In January 2005, Jacob Parker brought home a diversity book bag from his kindergarten. Included in the bag was books about other cultures and traditions, food recipes, and a book called Who’s in a Family. The illustrations included various family constructions: single parents, mom-dad-kids, grandparents, mixed-race families, and same-sex parents.
Same-gender-headed families were mentioned, but they weren't the main focus of the book bag. Further, since it was intended to be read at home, Mr. Parker had the option of ignoring the offending passage in the book. Parker's demands didn't end with Who's in a Family, however:
David Parker... decided that young Jacob was entitled to ignorance of the existence of same-sex headed families. He set out to change school policy so that his child not be exposed to that fact. He extended his demands to include any discussion of same-sex parenting, regardless of the context or setting - including any conversations of children of gay or lesbian parents.
In short, he argued that the school should stifle the speech of other children, especially children of gay and lesbian parents, so that his son could remain unaware that LGBT people exist. Now who's persecuting whom? On another note, Parker wasn't arrested because of his religious beliefs, but because he refused to leave school property when asked. He was trespassing.
Parker would have a legitimate argument for religious persecution if his son had been excluded from school activities or reprimanded by a teacher because of his family's beliefs, or if he had actually been arrested for expressing his beliefs to school officials (as opposed to trespassing on school property) but that isn't what happened. Exposure to opinions you disagree with does not equal persecution. Most if not all children-- including children of LGBT parents-- will be exposed to ideas that their parents disagree with at school. That's life. No religious group is allowed to dictate or censor the curriculum of a public school to reflect its own ideology.
9. Polls consistently show that the majority of Americans reject same-sex marriage
Public opinion remains firmly opposed to the redefinition of marriage. A May 2008 Gallup Poll asked the question: "Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid?" Respondents opposed homosexual marriage by a margin of 56 percent (opposed) to 40 percent (agreeing). Respondents to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll in October 2007 rejected same-sex marriage by the same margins.
Fortunately for all of us, the United States is not governed by polls. Just because the majority agrees with a practice (such as barring same-gender couples from marrying) doesn't mean it is just, or Constitutional. 90 years ago the majority of Americans were opposed to female suffrage. That doesn't mean that denying women the right to vote didn't violate our human rights.
10. Support for traditional marriage translates into ballot initiatives and laws around the country
Because of strong public support for traditional marriage, same-sex marriage advocates have attempted to circumvent public opinion by redefining marriage through the courts. Despite some victories, such as in Massachusetts and California where the courts have mandated same-sex marriage, there is a strong national movement to protect traditional marriage. A total of 45 states have instituted protections for traditional marriage either through state constitutional amendments or through laws...Seeing as the Religious Right is responsible for these ballot initiatives to begin with, it seems odd that they are apparently criticizing the fact that they exist.
For all the Religious Right's rants about "judicial tyranny", the Supreme Court of California is a democratic (small-d) institution. Justices are indeed appointed, but they are subject to periodic retention votes-- the first one during the first general election after their appointment, and every 12 years thereafter. California voters could have eliminated the justices on their Supreme Court-- but they didn't.