For quite some time, I have been discussing and debating the question of same-sex “marriage”. I regularly defend the authentic conjugal definition of marriage that has been enshrined in our social and legal tradition — a life-long, exclusive union of one man and one women dedicated to their good and for the procreation and upbringing of children.
This debate has been going on for years now. What continues to astonish me is how vapid are the arguments offered by those who would re-define marriage to leave gender and children out. Examples of this weak attempt to overturn the immemorial definition of marriage can be found in this op-ed, or this one.
The arguments typically do not embody reasoned attempts to persuade through logic. Instead, they are are emotionally-driven appeals to rectify hard cases, calls for “equality” without understanding that different things should be treated differently, demands for a laundry list of legal rights typical of special interest pleading, and, frequently, naked attempts to exclude religious people from the public debate. They don’t engage questions of the effect of redefining marriage on the common good or future generations. They ignore the incongruity of redefining marriage for everyone, to satisfy the interests of a statistically tiny number of people who want same-sex unions. When all else fails, polling data is trotted out, as if a transitory snapshot of public opinion is infallible in its wisdom. When even that fails, defenders of marriage are simply called “mean” (as I was, recently, in a college classroom).
In contrast, the arguments we offer in the defense of real marriage are multiple and philosophically sophisticated. This argument relies on the nature of the human person and the truth and meaning of human sexuality. It also relies on the lessons of common sense, experience, and social science about the best outcomes for adults and children. The concern expressed consistently is the effect of redefining marriage on the public messages that the law sends to men and women, particularly about the importance of marriage for children and for society as a whole. We can offer ready logical answers to the common objections to the conjugal definition of marriage, such as the false comparison to interracial marriage.
Our approach is to appeal to the obligation to make public policy for the common good, to pay attention to all consequences of law-making (especially the long-term and secondary effects), and not to make law based on the particular desires of small interest groups.
In so many ways, this debate is coming to resemble the debate about abortion. Science and logic (not to mention tradition) all establish the humanity of the unborn, but these don’t seem to matter to our courts and legislatures. Likewise, in the ongoing debate about marriage, reason and the common good of adults and children — and future generations — continues to be brushed aside by emotion and special interest politics.
Tags: Same-Sex "Marriage"