Ultimately, same-sex marriage is not about civil rights. It's about validation and social approval. It is a radical attempt at civil engineering using government muscle to strong-arm people into accommodating a lifestyle many find deeply offensive, contrary to nature, socially destructive, and morally repugnant. Even so, homosexuality is broadly tolerated in this country. Though not universally approved of, homosexuals have the liberty to live as they choose without fear of reprisal. This is all anyone has a right to demand.
The Policy Issue
Rhetorical Considerations: First, the issue in question is same-sex marriage, not gay marriage. The difference is critical rhetorically, even if the same people are in view. With regards to the policy issue, the government does not care about sexual preference; it cares about gender. Homosexual individuals can already get married, as we'll see. Describing it as "gay marriage" gives the impression that the animus is against the sexual preference rather than a concern about the genders involved. Second, there is no "ban" on same-sex marriage; there simply is no legal provision for it. The use of "banning" terminology is imprecise and misleadingly casts homosexuals as victims singled out for exclusion. The state is not hostile to same-sex relationships, but neither does it promote them because it has no reason to do so. Finally, let no one get away with simple name-calling in responding to this issue. This guide raises principled objections to same-sex marriage that are in no way related to bigotry, narrow-mindedness, arrogance, or intolerance. Responding with an ad hominem attack is not just bad manners, it's bad thinking. Bigotry, intolerance, and narrow-mindedness have no bearing on whether adopting same-sex marriage in our culture is a good idea as a policy concern.
The Meaning of Marriage
Marriage is not defined; it is described. Marriage is not invented by man, rather it is rooted in nature and a fixed feature of the natural order. Marriage relationships produce the next generation. Families consisting of a father and a mother are building blocks of society. This description has dictated the structure of every civilization from the beginning of time. Thus, changing language or laws doesn't change reality. Same-sex marriage never occurred until now because it was a contradiction in terms. Such unions would not be marriages even if declared so because nature decrees otherwise. Marriage licenses don't create marriages, they simply "map over" the natural institution already there from the beginning. Governments don't create marriages, so they can't ultimately redefine them. Governments can only cause damage by interfering with marriage instead of cooperating with its natural purpose.
Challenge #1: Unequal Rights? (Part 1)
"Homosexuals are denied the same rights as heterosexuals." This charge is false. Both heterosexuals and homosexuals can marry in any state and receive every privilege and benefit of state-sanctioned matrimony. Until recently, neither group could marry someone of the same sex. These rights and restrictions have applied to all people equally. Same-sex couples may not have the same legal benefits as married couples, but neither do any other non-marital relationships. Heterosexual unions have a unique role in sustaining civilization. Therefore, the government has no obligation to give every human coupling the same entitlements.
Challenge #2: Unequal Rights? (Part 2)
One concern is that same-sex couples don’t have the same rights as heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples don’t have the same rights in terms of health insurance, inheritance, hospital visits, etc. because the purpose that relationship serves is not equal to that of a heterosexual married couple. A rule of justice is to treat equals equally. The question is not whether homosexual individuals are equal to heterosexual individuals, but whether same-sex couples are equal to heterosexual couples of a certain type with regards to the policy concern of marriage. The answer is that they’re not. Things like health insurance, inheritance rights, and hospital visitations are all tied to the natural function of families. Mothers and fathers have kids and families. Yes, there have been some variations on that, but largely, our culture has adapted to help strengthen that unit. Therefore, you have inheritance rights. Mom and kids are included on health policies in case something happens to the primary breadwinner. None of that applies in the same way, neither to same-sex unions (as in domestic partnerships), nor to any kind of relationship other than natural marriage. Other kinds of relationships, though they may be significant, valuable, and meaningful to the parties involved, have no bearing on the public policy question of why the government privileges, protects, and regulates the natural marriage relationship. The government responds to help aspects inherent to the natural family relationship. When there are unique benefits, it’s because there are unique purposes. The natural family relationship headed by a long-term, monogamous, heterosexual union as a rule, as a group, and by nature, produce the next generation. Since that relationship serves a unique purpose, it has unique benefits.
Challenge #3: Same as Interracial Marriage?
"They said the same thing about interracial marriage." It is simply not relevant that the same objection has been used to deny both interracial and same-sex marriage. It is only relevant if the circumstances are the same, which they are not. There is no difference between a black and a white human being because skin color is morally trivial. There is an enormous difference, however, between a man and a woman. Race has no bearing on marriage, but sex is fundamental to marriage. Just because there’s a distinction does not mean there’s an unfair discrimination. This complaint is not adequate to justify polygamous or incestuous unions. It is equally irrelevant here, and it is misleading. Same-sex marriage is not an attempt to include those wrongly disenfranchised from an existing institution, but to abolish that institution and substitute a radically different one under the same name.
Challenge #4: All About Love?
"Marriage is about love, not children." Even if marriage is motivated by love, it is not defined by love. If it were, then billions of people in the world who thought they were married are not. Most marriages have been arranged and many today lack love, yet they are no less marriages. The state does not care if the bride and groom love each other. No proof of passion is required. Love may be the reason many get married, but it isn’t the reason cultures sanction marriage.
Challenge #5: Marriage Redefined?
"Marriage is constantly being redefined." The definition of marriage has not been in flux the way people suggest. Historically, some have been denied marriage or allowed to marry more than once. Spousal rights and marital traditions have changed. However, since the dawn of civilization, marriage has always been between males and females because of the unique function they perform in society.
Challenge #6: Cultural Construct?
"Culture has a right to redefine marriage." It is not possible that marriage is a social construction, because cultures emerge when humans reproduce. Successful reproduction requires stable families, and families begin with marriages. Since marriages are necessary to make families that make cultures that construct social conventions, then cultures cannot be the constructors of the marriages that make culture possible in the first place. Bricks make the building, not the building the bricks. Culture does not construct marriage. Marriage and family construct culture.
Challenge #7: Not About Family?
"Not all marriages have children." It’s easy to resist any suggestion that marriage and family are fundamentally connected to procreation. Although some marriages are barren, by choice or by circumstance, this proves nothing. The natural marriage/procreation connection is not nullified because in some cases children are not intended or even possible. The state protects conjugal marriage because of its institutional importance to culture. Pointing at exceptional cases doesn’t nullify the general rule.
Challenges #8: What About Adoption?
“But same-sex couples can adopt.” This fact changes nothing since it subverts the purpose of marriage by robbing children of something vital: mothers and fathers. By licensing same-sex marriage, society declares by law that two men or two women are equally suited to raise a child, that mothers and fathers contribute nothing unique to healthy child-rearing. Moms and dads are not interchangeable.
Challenge #9: Love Who We Want?
"We should have the freedom to love who we want." This sentiment reflects a common misconception: Same-sex marriage will secure new liberties for homosexuals that have eluded them thus far. This will not happen because no personal liberty is being denied them. Same-sex couples can already do everything married people do. They can express love, have weddings, set up housekeeping, share home ownership, have sex, commingle property, receive inheritance, and spend their lives together. Same-sex marriage grants no new freedom and restricts no liberty. Nothing stops anyone - of any age, race, gender, class, or sexual preference - from making lifelong loving commitments to each other, even ’til death do them part.
Challenge #10: How Will it Hurt Me?
In the final analysis, same-sex marriage is an aggressive act of social engineering repudiating, by legal fiat, the natural and singular role heterosexual unions perform in civilization. By equating same-sex unions with heterosexual unions, it changes culture at its core. Three things rapidly follow. First, homosexuality will officially and legally be declared normal, even if most cultures disagree. Second, anyone continuing to make the gender distinctions dictated by nature will run afoul of a law dictated by men. third, the definition of marriage will continue to expand as the state continues to tinker. Those opposing homosexuality will be legally vulnerable. Adoption legislation, rights of association, religious practices, freedom of speech, issues of conscience all will suffer harm. Marriage, family, and parenthood will continue to be redefined. Polygamy, polyandry, polyamory, and other creative variations will be justified by the same legal logic. These things are already beginning to happen in this country and around the world. And what's to stop them? Why would anyone think we can take an axe to the roots of civilization and not suffer consequences?