Author’s note: I wrote the following back in the summer of 2008. However, over five years later it continues to be a topic we hear a lot about, especially with the “Duck Dynasty” flap that was in the news a couple of weeks ago – the one where Phil Robertson was suspended by the A&E network from a show about his family’s duck-call business – and the prior story about a baker in Colorado being fined by a judge for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding (and the florist in New Mexico being punished for refusing to provide service for same, and a wedding photographer punished for same…) I realize I’m a bit late to the party and that pretty much every conceivable thing to be said about this topic has probably been said by now, but here’s my take for what it’s worth. Enjoy.
The topic of “gay marriage” has been in the news a lot lately here in California, mostly because of a recent decision by the State Supreme Court. The Court found that “no significant reason” for the continued “denial” of gay marriage rights existed.
This is so fundamentally wrong on so many counts, I hardly know where to begin. Let’s try to take it one step at a time.
In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 22, an initiative which stated that “only a marriage between a man and a woman shall be legal or valid in California.” Supporters of gay rights/marriage have begun arguing that support for this measure has since fallen to 51% or worse, according to “recent polls.” The problem with this line of reasoning is that (aside from the fact that I doubt its veracity), the voters’ will is law unless overturned by those same voters. There’s only one poll which counts, and that’s the one taken on Election Day. But liberals live and die by the polls, so I shouldn’t be surprised by this at all. Interestingly, in the wake of the court decision, supporters of a second and similar initiative have gathered enough signatures to place another such law on the ballot this November, one aimed at reversing this travesty and power grab by the state Supreme Court. I am having a hard time understanding why this is necessary, as the people have already spoken about this once, and it’s not up to any court or judge to come along and unilaterally overturn that. But I digress…
I think what bothers me most about this entire debate – this whole question of “Should gays be allowed to have full marriages which are recognized by the government” – is that the supporters, the “ayes,” have begun with a fundamentally wrong assumption.
That assumption, (upon which the California State Supreme Court also drew in writing its majority opinion) is this notion that gay marriages should be legalized and granted by the state, simply because no one can come up with a good reason NOT to do so. It’s like suggesting that a person should sit around writing down the numbers on locomotives a la “Trainspotting,” simply because there’s no good reason not to do so. It is intriguing that this is the best I’ve heard from gay marriage advocates by this point in time.
It harms no one, right? Why not write down locomotive numbers? And why not recognize gay marriage?
Actually, there are plenty of good reasons not to grant or recognize it, including the observation that it would overturn not just centuries but in fact millenia of established legal, moral, and religious tradition. You don’t go around tinkering with the building blocks of a stable society without a damn good reason, cowboy. You need to do better than merely ask, “Why not?”
A person who wants to bring about a change in the way people think, or in the laws, becomes known as a reformer. A refomer’s opponents, known as conservatives, are the defenders of the status quo. As the reformer, it is up to YOU to make your case. Sometimes the conservatives have been on the wrong side of history, sometimes not. But that misses the point.
The point is that it is a completely wrongheaded notion to say to the conservatives, “Why shouldn’t we change the way we’re doing things? You tell me why we should keep doing things your way.” Wrong question, wrong answer. Change for change’s sake is not necessarily a good thing – something I wish we could get across to Barack Obama. As the champion of a change or reform, it is incumbent on YOU, not your opponents, to demonstrate why the reforms you’re proposing would be of benefit to society. Change can be good or bad, but there’s no virtue in it without a supporting reason. The other side is not responsible for explaining why things should remain as they are. Period.
Gay marriage advocates also have attempted to re-frame the entire debate into some kind of civil rights issue. Some among their numbers have compared it with the race-based civil rights struggles of the 1960’s, which ultimately culminated in the landmark Civil Rights Act. Signed by President Lyndon B Johnson in 1964, it outlawed discrimination of any kind in the United States in employment, housing, and other areas, based on race, color, sex, or other immutable characteristics. (It also forbade discrimination based on religion, which is regarded as a matter of conscience since the USA is not permitted to outlaw or require any one faith as a matter of state policy.)
I find this comparison between gay marriage advocacy and the civil rights struggle to be highly disingenuous. For one thing, as noted above, race is an immutable characteristic. A person is born black, white, red, yellow, or something in-between. A person is born male or female. However, the jury is still “out” on whether he/she is born gay. That hasn’t been proven to anyone’s satisfaction; the so-called “gay gene” research was a complete flop. Even if it could be proven that gayness is indeed immutable, the fact remains that there’s nothing forcing a person to live such a lifestyle other than pure volitional choice. Some have claimed that nobody wakes up one day and chooses to be gay, any more than he wakes up choosing to be black. Fine. But you definitely cannot tell me, then, that he does NOT wake up choosing to get married to another person of the same gender.
Nobody has proposed to somehow outlaw homosexual inclinations or behavior. Rather, the State, at least up until recently, has simply refused to grant recognition of marriage between anything other than a man & woman. California proposition 22, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (signed in by President Clinton in 1996) and other applicable laws didn’t even mention gay marriage. They didn’t say, “Gay marriage shall be illegal.” They simply said, “Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be recognized.” This is a subtle but critical distinction.
And to reiterate what I was saying earlier, it’s not incumbent on conservatives to explain why the status quo is desirable; it is incumbent on reformers to explain why the CHANGE is desirable. The Civil Rights leaders of the 1960’s understood this. Martin Luther King Jr and his fellow travelers didn’t go around asking, “Well, why should we continue to discriminate against people based on skin color? I can’t see any good reason for it!” Instead, they said, “It is wrong to make pronouncements on people based on skin color or gender, for the simple reason that the Bible establishes such behavior as immoral.” MLK Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” illustrates this point clearly.
These leaders were able to make a moral appeal to the consciences of men for the reforms they were proposing, and why these reforms ultimately would prove to be of economic & social benefit to our nation: namely, by allowing racial minorities to enter the workforce in greater numbers, and take advantage of educational opportunities to make themselves more valuable to our nation. (Both resulted in a bigger tax base and many other positives.) Gay rights supporters haven’t bothered with any of this; they’ve just gone around saying, “Gay marriage should be legal, because you conservatives can’t tell us why it shouldn’t be.” It simply doesn’t work that way, and once again, the political Left has it backwards.
Supporters of equal civil rights for all races could make a moral appeal based on established Judeo-Christian tradition. The Bible is clear that all men are regarded as equal before the God who made them; therefore governments of men should treat them accordingly. But you cannot use the Scriptures or any other authoritative moral source to claim that God would command us to grant homosexuals special legal rights or in any way sanction their behavior. Au contraire, the Bible is quite clear that homosexual behavior is immoral. It naturally follows, then, that the government has no business granting legal recognition to a lifestyle which contravenes these established moral traditions unless those traditions can be interpreted in such a way as to demand reform as a matter of justice.
A lot of gays, as you’d imagine, are secular people who will respond that they are not bound by American society’s moral scruples and traditions, or the indisputably religiously-inspired principles on which the US was founded. I have six words for such people:
TOO FREAKING BAD! DEAL WITH IT!
This is the United States of America. It is, always has been, and always will be, a Christian culture with a secular government. While we respect the rights of all men to worship according to their conscience, it doesn’t mean the governments we elect have any business passing laws which contravene Biblical principles. That goes double for courtrooms occupied by a bunch of unelected judges, who seem to think they’ve got the right to make and enact law from the bench without going through the proper channels. Their role is to interpret existing law, nothing more.
There are a plethora of other Westernized countries in this world who have a more secular tradition than we do – this would be pretty much any nation in western Europe, plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others. Most of them already have gay marriage recognition on the books. I can’t understand why the gays cannot go live in one of those places if they want to get married, and stop screwing around with the one Western country that regards itself as God’s land instead of a socialist paradise. There are plenty of us here who like America the way it is, thankyouverymuch.
The problem is that gay rights supporters have hijacked the once-noble Civil Rights struggle by claiming “discrimination” where none exists. They claim, “You’re discriminating against us by not allowing us to marry one another.” No, that is a lie. Homosexuals have the same right as anyone else to marry someone of the opposite sex. Similarly, heterosexuals have no more right than gays do, to marry someone of the same sex. There is no discrimination there.
The United States is not, and has never been, in the business of granting special rights and privileges to any one group at the expense of others. One of the founding principles of this nation is equality before the law; the consistent rule of law rather than the whimsical rule of men. One set of rules for everyone and all that. If the states of this Union start handing out special favors like gay marriage (or anything else which only a small segment of society is going to be even interested in), then we’ve got a real problem on our hands. Every aggrieved minority will be coming out of the woodwork for their piece of the pie. Can you say “Balkanization?” It’s contrary to our long-standing principle of national unity and homogeneity.
The response from the gays to this reasoning, is of course predictable. They say, “Yeah….but we can’t marry the person we love!” Sorry, that’s not our problem. It’s not the government’s job to provide for everyone and anyone’s personal happiness. Can’t, won’t, shouldn’t….period. In a free country, you are responsible for your own contentment.
Homosexuals were on their firmest & solidest ground when they argued that what they did in the bedroom was nobody’s business but their own. Despite the Biblical guidelines which I regard as the supreme authority in life, ultimately adherence to those guidelines is between a man and his God and nobody else. An adult’s moral obedience isn’t anyone else’s business unless the lack of such, harms others or takes away from their human rights.
The problem is that with this gay marriage movement, they’ve made it EVERYONE’S business by insisting that our popularly-elected governments grant legal recognition to their lifestyle by placing it on a par with traditional marriage. And I object to my leaders, whom I elected and whose salaries I pay, voluntarily or involuntarily recognizing anything which I find offensive. It’s one thing to say, “I live my life as I see fit and it’s nobody’s business,” but quite another to say, “You will look upon the way I live my life and call it good.” It does not work that way in the United States of America.
Some have argued that the government should get out of the marriage business completely, recognizing nothing at all and leaving the matter entirely to religious authorities. The problem with that approach is that it ignores the major benefits that traditional marriage confers on society, among them:
1. Promoting the major institution responsible for the creation of well-adjusted children (who grow into stable and productive adults)
2. Providing a safe and moral outlet for men’s natural (and powerful) sexual urges
3. Creating a civilizing influence for men who might otherwise be inclined to commit violent crimes
4. Providing a built-in support apparatus for women, who traditionally have had fewer educational and vocational opportunities due to the rigors of pregnancy and child-care roles.
I’m getting tired of people suggesting this – suggesting that ‘getting government out of the marriage business’ – that is, abandoning civil recognition of marriage entirely – is going to be some neat & tidy way of disposing of this whole ugly controversy. That this is a good way to wrap the whole thing up in a bow and be done with it. “Oh, you two feuding groups can’t agree on whether the government will recognize gay relationships. Let’s just have it recognize NO relationships! Problem solved, right?” Uh, no. Problem NOT solved.
First of all, the traditional definition of marriage has served humanity just fine for thousands of years. I’m not throwing all that out the window just because of a bunch of sodomites and perverts decided that it’d be swell if the State recognized their relationship…and that since we’ve got this argument threatening to plunge our country into another civil war, we might as well throw the baby out with the bath water. No.
Second, what do people think “family law” is? Abandoning civil recognition of marriage would throw the entire discipline into a tailspin. It would make a mess of inheritance issues and a bunch of other things. A whole set of disputes commonly argued in family court, turn on the government having a coherent definition of who is married to whom. You’re not going to fob all that off onto churches and reasonably expect there not to be any consequences. So again, no.
Besides that, all indicators are that we’re moving in the opposite direction. The State seems to be getting itself MORE involved in our lives as the years go by, not less. I have no idea why people think ‘getting government out of the marriage business’ is a realistic suggestion.
The government has always had a stake in promoting marriage. Homosexual marriage doesn’t provide society with any of its benefits; traditional marriage does. And none of this has been unique to the United States, and it predates our founding by thousands of years – which is why I find it especially odd that our rulers now apparently reserve the right to revise the institution.
If this nonsense spreads any further, then a very old precedent has now been overturned and been replaced by a dangerous new one – that government-sanctioned marriage is no longer confined to a man and a woman. Gay-rights supporters insist that the gravy train stops here now that they’ve gotten their way, but a generation ago, our present situation would have been unthinkable, too. So I’m not buying it. If you revise the definition of marriage once, there’s no logical constraint against doing it again.
If gay marriage is indeed a fundamental human right of some kind, then there’s no longer any credible basis for arguing against polygamy, bestial marriage, incestuous marriages, or for that matter, marriages between a human and inanimate objects. (Some have predicted that robotics will eventually bring us androids that are so lifelike, intelligent, and anatomically-correct, people will be trying to “marry” them.) If it’s OK for two men to be married, or two women…then why not three men, or a man and his sister, or a woman and her dog, or six children, or a partridge and a pear tree? On what legal or moral basis would you now deny those people their “right to happiness?” Well?
The gay-rights people have labeled this a “slippery slope,” and called it “dumb,” but they’re going to need to come up with more than insults and tired, worn out figures-of-speech to disprove my point. I fear the floodgates have been opened and the water doth rush forth…
A letter to the editor was recently published in the newspaper back in my former hometown. It was entitled, “Gay marriage won’t cause world to end.” Perhaps not, but other moral crimes such as bank robbery, child molestation, and mass murder haven’t (yet) brought an end to civilization either. That alone doesn’t necessarily mean our society should legalize or tolerate them, does it?
And now that you mention it, I’d submit that smiling on such things is precisely what’s going to bring God’s judgment and wrath down on this world. The Lord did not spare Sodom and Gomorrah; why should He spare us?