Gay and lesbian marriage has become a controversial debate in contemporary society. There are heated arguments for and against the legalization of marriage between couples of the same sex. This paper explains that the underlying assumption for those in favor of gay marriages is that the central aspects of love, relationship, and understanding should override all other issues. However, this paper argues that the situation is not quite that simple. There are numerous factors that militate against the acceptance of gay marriage as an institution in modern society. The paper points out those gay marriages have the potential to create serious problems with regard to a range of very important social and cultural issues that make marriages of this nature untenable in modern society.
Polls in the late 1990s found that the topic of greatest concern for conservative Christians, and for many other North Americans, was that gays and lesbians might achieve rights and protections in law that had previously been reserved as special privileges only for heterosexuals. Perhaps the most important of these rights is for homosexuals to be able to marry the partner that they love and to whom they are committed for the rest of their life. Since the first attempts to legalize same-sex marriage were launched in Hawaii, same-sex marriage and civil unions have remained on the "front burner." Concern increased during 2003-JUNE and JULY when same-sex marriages were legalized in both Ontario and British Columbia in Canada. Some same-sex adult couples from Canada, the U.S., and other countries have started to travel to these provinces to marry.
Essentially all conservative Christian groups and leaders describe SSM and civil unions as a threat to society. They often consider the nature of this menace to be self-evident, and do not give an in-depth analysis of the reasons for their concerns. On the other hand, many gay-positive, religious liberal, and mental health news sources stress that SSM and/or civil unions should be approached as civil liberty issues. The right to marry the person with whom you have made a lifetime commitment is of paramount importance to many -- a major human rights issue. These groups often don't consider possible negative effects that SSM may have on society.
Rebuttals are listed after each point. They are based on the assumptions that homosexuality is a fixed, not chosen, sexual orientation that is normal and natural for a minority of adults. These are the beliefs of most gays, lesbians, religious liberals, mental health therapists and human sexuality researchers. Religious conservatives generally believe that homosexuality is a changeable, chosen, addictive, abnormal and unnatural lifestyle behavior; they will probably disagree with most of the rebuttals.
10 reasons why Same-Sex Marriage is a Bad Idea:
1. Gays & lesbians make poor parents.
Assertion: The State of Hawaii and court petitioners representing the Roman Catholic Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claimed that gays and lesbians in committed relationships make inferior parents. The best way to assure that children get the best possible upbringing is to require spouses to be of different genders.
Rebuttal: All of the witnesses in Baehr v. Miike -- both for the plaintiffs and the defense -- said that, on average, gay and lesbian couples are as loving as are opposite sex couples, and are equally as competent as parents. Since that court hearing, there have been many additional studies of the competency of gay and lesbian parents. Those conducted by groups opposed to same-sex marriage have generally found that homosexual parents are inferior; those conducted by groups that support same-sex marriage, or which have no preconceived position have generally found that gay and lesbian couples are equal or superior to opposite-sex parents. 8 Children parented by lesbians or gays have been found to be no different from those raised in an opposite-sex household "...on measures of popularity, social adjustment, gender role behavior, gender identity, intelligence, self-concept, emotional problems, interest in marriage and parenting, locus of control, moral development, independence, ego functions, object relations, or self esteem." Also, no significant differences have been observed in regard to "teachers' and parents' evaluations of emotional and social behavior, fears, sleep disturbances, hyperactivity, and conduct differences."
2. Children need to be raised by their biological parents:
Assertion: Children are better off when raised by their biological parents. In a same-sex marriage, at least one parent would be genetically unrelated to the child.
Rebuttal: With a divorce rate approaching 50%, a large minority of children are parented by a genetically-unrelated adult at some time in their lives. This inevitably happens in the case of a step family. If the state is to deny gays and lesbians, on this basis, the right to marry the partner that they love and have made a commitment to, then the state should logically deny divorced persons with children the right to remarry the person that they love.
3. A child with same-sex parents will be subjected to hate:
Assertion: Raising a child in a home with gay or lesbian parents in effect punishes the child, because they would be exposed to homophobia by the public. Hatred directed at the child's parents would spread to the child.
Rebuttal: Using the same argument, one could suggest that all inter-racial marriages should be banned and that all individuals of mixed-race ancestry should not be allowed to marry because their children will be of mixed racial ancestry and may experience racism from racial bigots. Other people's racism or homophobia should not be used to deny fundamental human rights to gays, lesbians, inter-racial couples and persons of mixed-race ancestry .
4. Marriage is only feasible if the couple is monogamous; same-sex couples cannot be:
Assertion: Because of monogamy, marriage is an stable institution. This is apparently a reference to the state's belief that homosexual couples cannot be monogamous.
Rebuttal: It is important to realize that most opposite-sex marriages are not monogamous. The percentage of heterosexual spouses who engage in at least one extra-marital "fling" approaches 50%. The percentage of opposite-sex marriages in which both partners are monogamous is less than 50%.
8. Homosexual activity is a capital offense in the Bible:
Assertion: There are at least a half-dozen references to homosexuality scattered throughout the Bible. All are negative. Leviticus 20:13 states that "The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have brought it upon themselves." (Living Bible): The New Living Translation says: "The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have committed a detestable act, and are guilty of a capital offense." How can we allow gays and lesbians to marry if the Bible calls on them to be executed?
Rebuttal: Those are accurate quotations from two of the more popular English translations of the Bible. However, they are also excellent examples of how translators allow their own personal prejudices to affect their judgment. The Living Bible and New Living Translation refer to homosexuals -- i.e. to male gays and lesbians. But the original Hebrew refers only to two men having sex. Lesbians do not appear in the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament). So, based on this passage, there would be no objection to two lesbians marrying. There are many similar verses in Leviticus which describe the Mosaic Code and use the Hebrew word "to'ebah" to condemn certain behaviors: sharing a meal with a person of another religion, eating shrimp or lobster, getting a tattoo, wearing a cotton and polyester shirt, planting a mixture of grass seeds in your front lawn, etc. None of these behavior are still considered "ritually impure" today. The passage may well be null and void.
9. Almost everyone agrees that homosexuality is immoral:
Assertion: The vast majority of the faith groups in North America -- over 1,500 strong -- condemn homosexual behavior as a serious sin, hated by God. We cannot reward such behavior by allowing gays and lesbians to marry.
Rebuttal: While it is true that conservative religious groups condemn homosexual behavior, refuse to conduct union or marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, and refuse to ordain active homosexuals to the clergy, this is not true of all faith groups. In fact liberal groups such as the Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, American Humanist Association, American Atheists, etc. promote equal rights for persons and couples of all sexual orientations. Many mainline churches are actively debating their stand on these matters.
10. Same sex marriage would be a radical change to society:
Assertion: When same-sex marriages were considered in Hawaii, a conservative Christian organization, Hawaii's Future Today (HFT), filed a brief with the court in opposition. They said, in part, that same-sex marriage would introduce "a radical reform in the basic institution of marriage, jettisoning long-recognized cultural values and drastically redefining the fundamental structure of our society..." They stated that the government has a compelling interest in "the historical and time-honored protection of traditional marriage as the fundamental structure in Hawaiian society that advances basic societal goals and values."
The essence of this argument is that because we have not allowed same-sex couples to marry in the past, that we should not allow them to marry in the future. If this logic were followed, slavery would still be practiced, men would be able to rape their wives with impunity, women would be prohibited from entering many professions, and non-virgin brides would be stoned to death today in North America.
Author Andrew Sullivan wrote: "The introduction of gay marriage would not be some sort of leap in the dark, a massive societal risk. Homosexual marriages have always existed, in a variety of forms; they have just been euphemized. Increasingly they exist in every sense but the legal one. As it has become more acceptable for homosexuals to acknowledge their loves and commitments publicly, more and more have committed themselves to one another for life in full view of their families and friends. A law institutionalizing gay marriage would merely reinforce a healthy trend."
11. The government has an interest in preserving the status quo:
Assertion: The government has a compelling interest to preserve the status quo in marriage -- to reserve it as a special privilege of opposite-sex couples and to deny it to same-sex couples. The brief by Hawaii's Future Today, also stated that the government has a compelling interest in "the historical and time-honored protection of traditional marriage as the fundamental structure in Hawaiian society that advances basic societal goals and values."
Rebuttal: The status quo in North America has shifted since 2003-JUN-10. On that date, a court in Ontario Canada declared that marriage licenses could be obtained by any adult couple -- same sex or opposite sex. So, in Ontario at lest, the status quo allows same-sex marriage. British Columbia followed suit on JUL-9. Laws must always be viewed by the court from the perspective of the claimant. The existing marriage legislation clearly discriminated against the same-sex couples who brought the lawsuit.