Before I begin with my case against gay marriage, I want to make a note that my argument is based on the act of homosexuality, not the person. In addition, I make no judgement, good or bad, about homosexuality in general. The gay marriage debate is perceived by many as a debate about gays. It is not. It is a debate about marriage.
Why I Am Against Gay Marriage
Lets start off with some history of the non-religious reasons marriage is in government in the first place.
Because the union of man and woman tends to produce offspring, and human offspring require a high level of nurture for a long period of time, and a stable household with a father and mother provides for that need better than other arrangements. Children raised in this way tend, on average, to be better cared for, and thus tend to be physically and emotionally healthier. They tend to be more productive and better educated than children raised in other ways. Furthemore, they are less likely to become dependents of the state, or delinquents and criminals, etc.
Society thus has, and has always had, a vested interest in supporting the stable union of man and woman in a way that it does not have, and has never had, a vested interest in other domestic arrangements. And that is what marriage as a basic human social phonemonon IS, and has always been. That is what the word refers to.
With that in mind…
The legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage are predicated on the historical socio-anthropological basis for marriage as a civil institution relating to the procreation and adequate nurturing and rearing of children.
Susan Shell, professor of political science at Boston College, explains it this way(the whole article is great btw),
Whatever else it may accomplish, marriage acknowledges and secures the relation between a child and a particular set of parents. Whether monogamous or polygamous, permanent or temporary, marriage never fails to address this relation — at least potentially. It establishes a legal or quasi-legal relation of parenthood that draws on, even as it enhances and modifies, the primary human experience of generation and the claims and responsibilities to which it naturally gives rise. A husband is, until otherwise proven, the acknowledged father of his wife’s offspring, with recognized rights and duties that may vary from society to society but always exist in some form. And a wife is a woman who can expect a certain specified sort of help from her husband in the raising of her offspring. All other functions of marriage borrow from or build upon this one. Even marriage among those past child-rearing age or otherwise infertile draws on notions of partnership and mutual aid that has its primary roots in the experience of shared biological parenthood.
Same-sex unions are inherently unable to produce children. I would say that society has no stake in supporting the stability of such arrangements and would be opposed to offering any privileges to same-sex living arrangements that happen to be conjugal over other living arrangements that happen not to be conjugal, such as two siblings of same or mixed gender living together, a parent and child, platonic roommates, etc
So to summarize, without bringing religion into this, marriage is primarily involved in government only in so far as the governments interest lies in its future citizens. Since it’s a scientific fact that only the union of man and women can inherently produce children, only that union is unique in the eyes of the government. The union of homosexual partners does not have this inherent quality, therefore does not serve the same purpose in the government’s perspective.
Let me address some common objections to this…
Gay Couples Raise Children As Well.
To that I would answer there might be a child being raised within the context of any other domestic arrangements as well, i.e., two siblings of same or mixed gender living together, a parent and child, platonic roommates, or brother and sister. We certainly aren’t going to stipulate the actual presence or absence of a child as the basis for whether or not to grant marital privileges and rights. So I see no conceivable reason to privilege gay couples above other domestic arrangements.
In addition, it is still an open debate whether or not gay couples make good parents.
People Marry For All Sorts Of Reasons, Not Necessarily To Procreate.
To that I would answer that the larger point is that if the union of man and woman were not where babies come from, and if babies didn’t require such intensive nurture for such a long period of time, marriage would not exist, either as a socio-anthropological category or as a religious institution.
In specific cases there may be, for one reason or another, no actual possibility of offspring, or very little possibility of offspring, or no intention of producing offspring, etc., but it is not society’s job to make such distinctions or to inquire into the likelihood, ability, and interest of this man and this woman in reproduction.
This is completely different from the case of two individuals of the same sex, which is inherently not where babies come from.
How Does Gay Marriage Undermine Traditional Marriage By Being Included In The Marriage Act?
To that I would respond that traditional marriage would be undermined because society supports marriage as an investment, with a cost. By privileging married couples in certain legal and financial ways in order to support their stable union and potentially benefit any offspring that may result, society makes an investment in us as a couple, with the understanding that we are participating in an institution that exists for the good of society through the engendering and long-term nurture of children.
By definition, two gay men down the street cannot participate in the reality of that institution. However, it is true that society can privilege them in the same way as it does us.
However, this benefit to them will come at an additional cost to society, and by substantially expanding the pool of living arrangements considered as “marriage,” society will have fewer resources to benefit each family individually.
Secondly, “marriages” in the gay community, because they are inherently unable to produce children, will never offer society the same benefits and return on the social investment as true marriages of men and women.
Sociologically, too, civil acceptance of gay unions probably has deleterious consequences for marriage and family. Legal recognition of gay “marriage” further erodes the connection between marriage and child-rearing, thus creating less impetus for heterosexual couples to marry simply because they want to live together and possibly to procreate. This will lead to children being raised by couples who never bothered to marry, which will lead to more separations and more harm to the children.
I feel that that the case I have presented is in itself sufficient to deny gay marriage. However, I’d like to offer up other arguments that I think add to the case against gay marriage. They are not necessary, but I consider them worth mentioning.
- Religious freedom
- Negative effects on society, and more importantly, children
Given the strong emotional element of this issue, and the ignorance of the public at large, there is a strong likelihood that those opposed to gay marriage will be seen as bigots or something on the order of ‘racist’. Therefore, granting marriage to gays only increases that belief and may eventually start to threaten religious freedom.
Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law At Harvard University, writes,
Religious freedom, too, is at stake. As much as one may wish to live and let live, the experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination the likes of which we have rarely seen before. Every person and every religion that disagrees will be labeled as bigoted and openly discriminated against. The ax will fall most heavily on religious persons and groups that don’t go along. Religious institutions will be hit with lawsuits if they refuse to compromise their principles.
Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law At Harvard University, writes,
The Canadian government, which is considering same-sex marriage legislation, has just realized that retroactive social-security survivor benefits alone would cost its taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
There is significant amount of evidence that suggests granting gay marriage will further blur the line between marriage and non-marriage, thereby increasing out-of-wedlock births. Which is a less than ideal living environment for children.
Stanley Kurtz, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, writes,
Today, marriage is in trouble in the Netherlands. In the mid-1990s, out-of-wedlock births, already rising, began a steeper increase, nearly doubling to 31 percent of births in 2003. These were the very years when the debate over the legal recognition of gay relationships came to the fore in the Netherlands, culminating in the legalization of full same-sex marriage in 2000. The conjunction is no coincidence.
A careful look at the decade-long campaign for same-sex marriage in the Netherlands shows that one of its principal themes was the effort to dislodge the conviction that parenthood and marriage are intrinsically linked. Even as proponents of gay marriage argued vigorously–and ultimately successfully–that marriage should be just one of many relationship options, fewer Dutch parents were choosing marriage over cohabitation. No longer a marked exception on the European scene, the Dutch are now traveling down the Scandinavian path.
Before we get into a long discussion of the merits of the above case I want to point out that it is not necessary to prove conclusively the negative effects on society, my point here is to show that there is atleast a risk involved.
Often at this stage in the discussion someone will bring up the economic consequences of two homosexuals who are not allowed to marry. What about hospital visitations, what about insurance rights, what about inheritence rights?
To that I would respond that I am not against civil unions per se, but against civil unions that are specific to homosexuals. There are many forms of unions that would also need these same benefits, and any civil union plan should include them as well. Widowed sisters living together and looking after each other, or an unmarried adult son taking care of his elderly father, may have the need for domestic partner benefits such as hospital visitation privileges and insurance rights as well.
Robert P. George, Professor Of Law at Princeton University, explains it this way,
It is important to protect the substance of marriage, but a sound amendment need not, however, forbid states from enacting certain forms of domestic partnership. It need only ensure that laws do not treat nonmarital sexual relationships as if they were marital by making such relationships the basis for allocating benefits. An amendment protecting the substance of marriage would ensure that neither the federal government nor the states may predicate benefits, privileges, rights or immunities on the existence, recognition or presumption of nonmarital sexual relationships.
In other words, domestic partnerships, if states elect to have them, should be nondiscriminatory and inclusive. They should be available to people based on needs, not on sex. The law certainly should not discriminate in favor of those unmarried people who are in sexual relationships over those with the same needs who, though committed to caring for each other, are not sexual partners. Widowed sisters living together and looking after each other, or an unmarried adult son taking care of his elderly father, may have the need for domestic partner benefits such as hospital visitation privileges and insurance rights.
A constitutionally sound domestic partnership law would not discriminate against such people by excluding them from eligibility simply because their relationships are not sexual–just as a nondiscriminatory and inclusive law would not undermine marriage by treating unmarried sexual partners as if they were married.
Susan Shell, professor of political science at Boston College, writes,
Most, if not all, of the goals of the gay marriage movement could be satisfied in the absence of gay marriage. Many sorts of individuals, and not just gay couples, might be allowed to form “civil partnerships” dedicated to securing mutual support and other social advantages. If two unmarried, elderly sisters wished to form such a partnership, or two or more friends (regardless of sexual intimacy) wanted to provide mutually for one another “in sickness and in health,” society might furnish them a variety of ways of doing so — from enhanced civil contracts to expanded “defined benefit” insurance plans, to new ways of dealing with inheritance. In short, gay couples and those who are not sexually intimate should be permitted to take legally supported vows of mutual loyalty and support. Such partnerships would differ from marriage in that only marriage automatically entails joint parental responsibility for any children generated by the woman, until and unless the paternity of another man is positively established. (emphasis added)
So to summarize, I see several negative reasons to legalize gay marriage and see no positive reason given for allowing gay marriage, short of the religious. Reasons I have heard often emphasize the love homosexuals have for each other, or the life long commitments they all would like to make to each other, each of which I don’t doubt to be true. But from the governments perspective, these are no reasons at all. The government shouldn’t be in the business of handing out certificates of love orr certificates of life-long commitment. A Mormon for example, could argue for his ability to marry several different wives for the very same reason the gay marriage proponents do, yet I am against legalized polygamy as well. Which brings up the obvious question, if gay marriage is allowed, why not polygamy? It seems to me that polygamists have a stronger case to marry than homosexuals, since polygamists can produce children. I see no reason to allow gay marriage while denying the same to polygamists.
So in other words, the costs of legalizing gay marriage overwhelming outweight the benefits.
*For a more detailed critique of gay marriage based on liberal principles, read this well written article.
**For the record, I took bits and pieces of my argument from several sources and where I found the argument presented better than I could have, I used their wording sometimes verbatum. So I am in no way claiming that this is my argument against gay marriage. It is only the argument presented by others that I found most convincing.