Monday, June 2, 2008

Why Conservatives Should Oppose Gay Marriage

Recently, the California Supreme Court overturned California’s ban on gay marriage. The law was a referendum overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2000, but was reviewed by the Supreme Court of California. The court found a “fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship,” although such a right didn’t seem to be found in the text of the state’s constitution. Rather, the California Supreme Court relied on the equal-protection clause, which is a very liberal (in the sense of “loose”) interpretation of the clause.

The California Supreme Court decision is an absurd attempt to circumvent the will of the voters, but there is a good chance that it won’t matter. Conservative religious groups have submitted a petition that would set the ban on same-sex marriage as a state constitutional amendment. If passed, the amendment would overturn the new state position on gay marriage, and place the matter outside the reach of the state courts. Polls indicate that there is quite a good chance that the referendum will pass.

Most conservatives oppose gay marriage—but many of them don’t seem to know exactly why. Some (many fundamentalist Protestants seem to fall into this category) seem to be under the impression that homosexuality is some great, unprecedented evil, which must be resolutely opposed at every turn. This idea is absurd. To Christians (or at least to Roman Catholics, which are the only branch of Christianity I can speak for), homosexuality is a serious sin—but not quite as serious as some believe.

In Catholic ethics, homosexual acts are considered wrong because, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “they close the sexual act to the gift of life.” This is precisely the same reason that the Church considers birth control immoral—and most Christians (including most Catholics) have absolutely no problem with birth control. So it is not as if homosexuality is a crime so dreadful that no society could even dream of countenancing it.

(Other Christian churches may have other reasons for opposing homosexuality, but any other grounds for considering homosexuality are beyond me, other than the simple fact that the Bible forbids it. But that doesn’t answer the question of the underlying reason for such a prohibition.)

Social conservatives consider homosexuality wrong, but why is it worth opposing legal recognition of such a relatively (note the use of the word “relatively”) minor transgression? Only a tiny proportion of the population is gay, and only a small proportion of them want to marry. So why trouble?

Because an official recognition of gay marriage would destroy the concept of marriage. Marriage is a remarkably stable civilizational concept—it is quite similar around the world. One of marriages most important purposes is to provide a stable family unit, and to provide children with a stable home.

A state recognition of gay marriage negates this concept. If gay marriage is recognized, then marriage is a meaningless idea—any combination of individuals wishing to get married would have that right. There would be logical basis upon which to prohibit polygamy or polyandry. Even incestuous relationships could be justified, since as, the California Supreme Court pointed out, there is a “fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship.” A case (not a very good one) could even be made that bestial marriages could be recognized if someone wanted to build a “family” with his pets. Homosexual marriage probably would have little initial effect (remember, the number of gays whom actually wish to be married is fairly small), but such recognition would ensure that marriage would become meaningless as a legal and social concept. There would be no identification of the long-established purpose of marriage.

Of course, homosexual marriage is hardly the greatest threat to traditional marriage. In many Western nations, it could be argued that marriage already is a meaningless concept. In many European countries, illegitimacy rates are sky-rocketing, many couples are electing to forgo marriage for a permanent state of cohabitation, and many view the very idea of marriage an old-fashioned and outdated concept. Even in America, the federal government contributes to the breakdown of traditional marriage by increasing government handouts to single mothers, which means that many couples forgo marriage for federal funds. Gay marriage is indeed a threat to marriage—but hardly the only such threat, and not nearly the most serious one.


At June 3, 2008 at 5:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not Opposed to Gay Marriage.

I say, If they don’t hurt anyone or anything, why not? They are human’s also. It’s their way of life and I think they should have the benefits of marriage like anyone else.
I also believe that like abortion, gay marriage has no place in a political platform.

At June 3, 2008 at 6:02 AM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

"The California Supreme Court decision is an absurd attempt to circumvent the will of the voters..."

It is not the duty of the judicial body to either favor or not favor the "will of the people".

Remember, in so much as the interpretation here by your account is that the judicial body has gone against the "will of the people" in making the wrong assertion, so too will there come a time where (by this same premise) they will go against the "will of the people" in making a completely different assertion which may in fact be the right one.

Whether to follow the "will of the people" or not, does not infer that the court's decision on any matter are the correct one. Nor does it imply that the "will of the people" is the correct decision. For example, what if the "will of the people" thought it perfectly acceptable to abolish the 2nd ammendment and your right to own a gun. If the court were to (as you suggest) "circumvent the will of the people", without question their decision would be the correct one.

The court's decision on any matter should not be predicated on the "will of the people". No; the court's decisions are a result of applying the law.

What's more, I agree with DD here. What pains me is that a great many in the Republican movement have taken the libertarian Goldwater brand of Conservatism and used it as a conduit to pursue their religious ideology (eg. gay marriage, prayer in schools, etc.). This is the primary reason that Conservatives are having difficulties assessing their ideology at present. When people hear you're a Conservative, they immediately think you hate gays, want prayer in schools, and are hell bent on pushing your religion upon others.

This was not Conservatism by Goldwater's account and it is not Conservatism by my account.

While I happen to think that the best environment for raising a child is the traditional triad; a home with a mother and a father, I think the gay marriage issue is one that ought to be left to the church.

Where we get on a slippery slope in a political sense, with respect to legalizing gay marriage, is to then permit legal benefits to a special class of citizens.

Of course the argument from gay marriage proponents is that a heterosexual couple shouldn't be the only ones afforded present tax benefits and the like. Be that as it may, any such benefits arguably exist for the sake of raising children and not solely for the sake of benefitting the heterosexual couple.

At June 3, 2008 at 1:26 PM , Blogger Z-man said...

I was going to say one of the main reasons for opposing gay marriage is that it opens the door to everything else from polygamy to legally recognizing incestuous relationships but Daniel just said it in his blog. Radio guy Jay Diamond once made an interesting point about the push for gay marriage years ago. He said how did we go from promiscuity being the norm in the gay world to gay marriage? But anyway I don't see how you could prevent affirmative rulings on polygamy and all the rest if you open up the door to gay marriage.

At February 23, 2010 at 10:08 AM , Blogger Near said...

Do you have any evidence or even some correlational data to suggest that gay marriage would destroy the family unit? There isn't any, so I hope you don't say you do. I have done an intensive literature search for a scrap of evidence to support your claims. I personally haven't found anything, nor has anyone a have talked to found any either, even those supporting your claims.

The idea of a family has changed drastically over time. If you compare the common model of the nuclear American family to the large intermingled network of relatives and families portrayed in old testament, there is a huge difference. Family units differ drastically from society to society, and while marriage is common to nearly all, it is not the largest factor that promotes cohesion.

Homosexual couples can easily fit your model of stable family unit. There are many homosexual families that operate the same way as a traditional family does. Also, married straight couples are not always stable. Confining marriage to opposite gender relationships does not promote stability.

You attempt to argue that there are societal reasons to deny homosexuals marriage, but you do not succeed. There is no reason beyond discrimination and phobia.

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