The Costs of Same-Sex Marriage

Conservatives often speak of the left’s quest for same-sex marriage as a kind of threat — say, to marriage itself, or even to society as a whole.  Proponents of same-sex marriage often react to such arguments with complete dismay.  How, they ask, can someone’s marriage be a threat to anyone else’s marriage?  For that matter, how could an extension of marriage be a threat to society?  Don’t conservatives think marriage is a good thing?  If so, shouldn’t gays be allowed to marry and so to realize the benefits of marriage for themselves and for the community?

At Public Discourse, Matthew Franck has a review of Michael Klarman’s new history of the same-sex marraige movement that points to answers to these questions.

In the first place, Franck’s argument makes clear that conservative opponents of same-sex marriage do not regard such marriages as a threat to anybody’s marriage in particular.  I have often heard liberal heterosexuals scoff at the idea that allowing gays to marry would present any threat to their own existing heterosexual marriages.  Here, however, they are scoffing at an argument that nobody is making.  The point, rather, is that same-sex marriage threatens the traditional definition of marriage.  As Franck notes, marriage was traditionally understood as a union undertaken with a view to generating and nurturing new life.  But homosexual unions are by their intrinsic nature incapable of generating new life, and, in any case, all the arguments for same-sex marriage turn on other supposed purposes and definitions of marriage: as a source of social approval, as a source of legally provided material benefits, etc.  The point that conservatives are trying to make, and that many liberal insist on not getting, is that there is no way to “extend” marriage to gays without at the same-time redefining what it is.  And conservatives think this is a step that should give any reasonable person pause, given the fundamental importance of marriage to society.

In the second place, Franck emphasizes the rather surprising recentness of the movement for same-sex marriage and its rapid advance toward success.  Proponents of same-sex marriage often try to compare their cause to the campaign for civil rights for African Americans.  There is, however, this superficial but perhaps important difference: the original civil rights movement lasted a long time, which means that it had deep roots in our culture.  Even when slavery existed, many Americans knew slavery was wrong.  Even while segregation was tolerated, many Americans sensed that it was unjust.  In contrast, the idea that justice requires same-sex marriage is very recent.  Hardly anybody, including people committed to gay rights, thought it was a matter of right even as recently as two decades ago.

This, to me, points to one of the ways in which the movement for same-sex marriage is a threat to society: it is almost unprecedented in its disregard for tradition.  It insists that we regard as bigoted and ignorant the understanding of marriage that prevailed until just the last few years.  Of course, traditions can be unjust, and you could not have a rational and just society if we did nothing but accept our own traditions uncritically.  On the other hand, however, it is hard to see how a society with radical contempt for its own traditions can even survive.  How can it even remember what it has learned?



53 thoughts on “The Costs of Same-Sex Marriage

  1. Greg B. says:

    No one is forcing the church to anything with respect to marriage- equality beyond *forcing* them to live in a world in which it exists.

    1. Devout Catholic says:

      No one is forcing the Church to anything? Really? Perhaps you aren’t aware of the fact that Catholic Charities was forced out of the adoption services in several states including Illinois because the state legislators were going to force the agency into adopting children to same-sex couples.

      And when the “world in which it exists” insists that incest, pederasty, bestiality, and pedophilia are suddenly morally acceptable, I assume you’ll be spouting the new-age wisdom of those unrestrained desires as well – no?

      1. Greg B. says:

        You discredited yourself by revealing your bigotry when you made a blanket statement about a few hundred million humans by calling them “profoundly disordered”. Now onto your lies about Catholic Charities. Evidently you don’t have the facts on the issue with CC of Boston (or you do and are misrepresenting them). Here they are:
        Catholic Charities’ problem was not related to the 2004 legalization of same-sex marriage but rather to a 1989 anti-discrimination law. CC of Boston complied with that law and had placed over a dozen children with gay or lesbian parents in the seventeen years between its inception and 2006 (two years after the legalization of same-sex marriage). A Boston Globe story on the practice prompted an internal policy review and resulted in a conflict between CC of Boston, which wanted to continue adoptions to gays and lesbians, and the Archdiocese, which wanted to change the policy. With Gov. Romney’s assistance, the Archdiocese sought an exemption from the 1989 law which prompted several of CC’s board members to resign in protest. When the MA legislature refused to give the Archdiocese a special right to discriminate, it voluntarily decided to end its adoption services rather than comply with the 1989 law. Here is a handy fact sheet for future reference:

        1. Devout Catholic says:

          Uhm- the 1989 anti-discrimination law IS based on the perversion of homosexuality which is against Church doctrine regardless of the rouge actions of any diocese or bishop (which is hardly surprising in MA). Here in Illinois, Catholic Charities refused to acknowledge the secular institution of gay “marriage” and rightly so.

          And what exactly is “ordered” or normal about homosexuality?

      2. Greg B. says:

        Also, Illinois doesn’t have same-sex marriage, it has separate and unequal civil unions. See the 4th paragraph in your initial post above wherein you seem to suggest that civil unions are the proper solution to legal protections for gay couples. Are they the solution or are they the problem? You also seem to be outraged at what you perceive are the “special privileges” sought by gays and lesbians. I’m not sure how you arrive at that conclusion since all gay couples are demanding is access to the existing institution of civil marriage. If you’d view anything as a special privilege, I’d think it would be the aforementioned civil unions. They are a separate entity created specifically for gay couples which give some of the protections of marriage potetially without many of its responsibilities. Just another inconsistency in your argument.

        1. Devout Catholic says:

          “Unequal civil unions”? Define that. What is “unequal” about them? And I was never implying any sort of legal protection for gay couples because it is society that is in need of protection against their unrestrained bigotry against Natural Law.

          “I’m not sure how you arrive at that conclusion since all gay couples
          are demanding is access to the existing institution of civil marriage.” – This is a strawman argument not to mention pure tripe steeped in ignorance. The fact that the disordered relationship of homosexuality is NOT marriage by any definition of the word, clearly negates such a disordered nature from any of the logical moral norms of any societal institutions. To give formal access and recognition to nothing more than a perverted impulse of the brokenness of humanity is in and of itself a special (and disordered) privileged.

          Tell me, what exactly is “normal” much less natural about homosexuality?

          1. Greg B. says:

            I’m here to challenge anti-gay rhetoric and correct the lies. I’m not here to try to change the minds are ignorant bigots. There will always be people like you – at least for another few decades. We’ll take pleasure in watching you feel increasingly marginalized and helpless as society evolves and leaves you in history’s dust bin.

          2. Devout Catholic says:

            In other words, your “tolerance” is completely intolerant of any view accept your own. And your schadenfreude is clearly indicative of your hateful bigotry.

            Well played sir: you’ve managed to complete the circle of your self-feeding irrational thought process. Oh and, what exactly, is natural about homosexuality?

          3. Devout Catholic says:

            No, you’re here to challenge rational thought and self-evident truth. You’re here to keep your mind firmly closed and your desires fully fed by the delusions of an immature and selfish intellect.

          4. Devout Catholic says:

            Oh and, speaking of “evolve”, homosexuality is the ultimate evolutionary dead-end. I’m sure the irony of that paradox completely escapes you.

      3. Greg B. says:

        I won’t dignify the “incest, pederasty, bestiality, and pedophilia” portion of your comment with a response.

        1. Devout Catholic says:

          Because you cannot discriminate against those disordered desires with any clear distinction from homosexuality.

          1. Greg B. says:

            Keep blabbing. Idiots like you actually do wonders for the pro-equality movement. So thanks in advance!

          2. Devout Catholic says:

            Your insults and inability to carry on a rational conversation are a sure sign of your moral and intellectual bankruptcy.

            Again, well played sir. Your cup of histrionics runneth over.

          3. Greg B. says:

            Because beastiality and pedophilia are part of a rational discussion? LOL. Religion really does rot the brain. Goodbye.

          4. Devout Catholic says:

            Both are disordered sexual desires outside the design of the human paradigm of Natural Law- just like homosexuality. But again I ask you: what exactly is normal about homosexuality? Tell me.

          5. Devout Catholic says:

            Oh and, your true bigotry towards Christianity rears it’s ugly head. The people who yell for “tolerance” the most, are usually the most intolerant people of all.

            “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” – G.K.Chesterton

            “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid. Otherwise it is more akin to a sewer, taking in all things equally.” – G.K. Chesterton

          6. Patrick says:

            Greg, an unrelated question, but would really appreciate help on a technical question. If I’m away for a day and return to this site and see that a topic I was following seems to have several new comments – how can I find and read only those new comments without first trying to remember how many days I ago I last read any (e.g., 3 days ago?) and then rereading page by page and comment by comment, looking only for comments more receent than my last visit. Am I misssing something or is that my only option? Frustrating. Thanks

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