Marriage--just a generation ago everybody knew what it was
There's an interesting discussion on "gay marriage" going on over at Bookworm Room. Her initial posting of her opinion, which I agree with, included this:
I think traditional marriage, which often includes children, is the glue that holds a stable society together. Married couples, especially those with or planning to have children, have an enormous incentive to hold jobs, save money, create safe communities, look to the future politically, and to crave non-revolutionary continuity when it comes to social and political issues. They’re the antidote to anarchy. That’s why I’ve been so opposed to gay marriage. It’s not because I think gays should be punished. I’ve long said that I support extending certain legal benefits (and concomitant burdens) to committed gay couples. My opposition comes about because I’ve seen gay marriage as a slippery slope, a wedge issue, aimed at doing away with traditional marriage entirely, with all that this radical change implies.
Stanley Kurtz now writes a lengthy article that essentially says my instincts are right. While many gays just want to “get married,” the intellectuals behind the gay marriage movement have much larger plans that really go to destroying marriage all together. And because I think traditional marriage is one of the single most important aspects of a healthy society, I’m baulking completely at heading down the gay marriage path. I’m not homophobic; I’m traditional marriage-philic!
She followed with a second posting, including this:
Because I believe that strong heterosexual relationships are the backbone of a strong society, I’m less sanguine about those who slip into homosexual relations because it’s a sexually available option. I believe that legalizing gay marriage will make sexual ambiguity even easier. That’s a belief, and you’re free to disagree....
If I accept Kurtz’s data and conclusions as correct, I would have to worry that legalizing gay marriage in America would damage traditional marriage. And as I noted in my earlier post, I think traditional marriage is a necessity for a healthy America.
I added my own comments to her second post. I do think the idea of raising the concept of "marriage" of homosexuals to the same legal status as traditional marriage would have vast unsuspected consequences that should be considered and discussed ad nauseum before any such huge societal change is enacted.
And it certainly seems to me that such a huge change and break with the traditional definition of human marriage should properly be decided (if at all) by a vote of the people who will be affected (i.e by votes taken in communities, states, and the entire country which will have to live with it), not by fiat enacted by a judge here, a mayor there. And, as Bookworm points out, we should be paying attention to the fact that there is evidence to weigh from European experiments along these lines, as well as a far-left movement afoot to devalue traditional marriage altogether and not just legalize homosexual couplings as "marriage," but many other sorts of affiliations as well.
I would hate to see non-traditional "marriages" touted as values-neutral "lifestyle choices" in our nation's schools (and probably on PBS children's television shows), as will be done once such non-traditional "marriages" are legally blessed. This is already being done, and it would get much worse and more pervasive with the force of law. The public schools and parents will have no legal leg to stand on to prohibit such re-education lessons, as they will then be tarred as bigots standing in the way of fostering "cultural diversity" and "gender tolerance."
With "gay marriage" and other variations of legalized alternate couplings (or polygamous groups) elevated to the same status as marriage, would we still be allowed to think or assume, to make personal or policy distinctions, on the basis that a traditional family would offer a child a better environment than a "alternate family"? I doubt it. So we are looking at a vast sea change that would happen in adoption law, foster-child placement, and in the hearts and minds of children raised in "traditional families." If our current views on the superiority of traditional families (husband and wife offering a secure home to children) is discrimination--and of course it is, by definition of making moral distinctions--it is sensible discrimination, and I fear it would be forcibly thrown out with the bathwater of the definition of "traditional marriage."
Sorry, I do not view that as an improvement in the personal, social, or political life of our nation. It would certainly not be an improvement in the lives of our nation's children.
I am very sorry if homosexuals feel their civil rights have been curtailed because they cannot "marry" a same-sex partner in the eyes of our government, but I do not find their arguments about this to be convincing. I have nothing against loving homosexuals making lifelong pledges to each other, living in peace from persecution, and being able to secure all the legal rights of contract, inheritance and disposition of property they wish. But no matter how much they wish it, or wish to redefine or romanticize it, such a partnership will never and can never be a marriage. Society or government is not to blame for this fact of life that some folks have a hard time accepting.
Americans have grown to think that anything is possible if we only want it badly enough. My concern in this case is that the consequences of our society and our government being willing to redefine the legal meaning (and hence, therefore also the status) of "marriage" out of compassion for the feelings of a minority, may well have devastating consequences not only for the majority, but for everyone.
We need to talk about it. This is serious stuff, not just this year's cause du jour, and I don't think we should be rushed into adopting such changes without much, much more due consideration.