The 'Conservative Rationale' for Gay Marriage?
With Election Day less than three weeks away, ballot questions regarding same-sex marriage in four states are suddenly assuming a higher profile. Up until now, the debate has mostly consisted of ideologues on either side duking it out online and in various isolated forums. Now, suddenly, voters are starting to pay attention.
Much of the media reporting nowadays focuses on the growing size of the war chests for either side and the comparative advantage deeper pockets may bring. The real story, however, lies not in what lobbyists do, but what is in the hearts and minds of voters in Maryland, Washington, Maine, and Minnesota.
And while many try to inject religion into this important debate, voters would do well to familiarize themselves with the non-religious reasons to abandon the idea of same-sex marriage. As Americans, it is our duty to reason and judge as citizens, and not solely as Christians, Muslims, or Jews.
We Americans like the idea of making history. Yet many landmark changes in our country's laws have had unintended consequences with severe negative impacts on generations of children. For instance, no-fault divorce and the expansion of the welfare state have diminished family life, especially for minorities and the poor, while multiplying the number of both broken homes and fatherless families. Nowadays, 40% of all births in the U.S. are to unwed parents. That number is stunning. More stunning is the fact that 70% of black children are born to unwed mothers.
Proponents of same-sex marriage, now popping up in conservative ranks, base their support on the notion that same-sex marriage represents an expansion of freedom and a shrinking of the level of government intrusion in our lives.
Remarkably, these ranks now include surprise validators such as hedge fund manager Paul Singer, Institute for American Values president David Blankenhorn, columnist Michael Barone, and Fox News commentator Margaret Hoover, and even former vice president Dick Cheney. They insist that there is a "conservative argument" to be made for same-sex marriage. Does a conservative rationale really exist? I am gay, and try as I may, I find the argument implausible. Why?
Perhaps Jennifer Thieme said it best, writing in the Daily Caller:
Conservatives must never forget that traditional (gendered) marriage existed before the state. This is what gives gendered marriage its power over the state - it existed prior to the state. A society based on the idea of limited government depends more on gendered marriage than gendered marriage does on it. The nuclear family is a bulwark against the state. Other family forms are not - other family forms require more and more state intervention in order to support their existence either by law or financially, which is why liberals need other family forms in order to stay in power and why they want to redefine marriage.
Far from leading to smaller government, redefining marriage rolls out the red carpet to eventual nearly limitless intrusion in our lives. In the same way no-fault divorce has been a disaster for the most vulnerable in society, altering the definition of marriage will result in devastating consequences for children and family life:
No-fault divorce allows one party to end the marriage bond for any reason or no reason. In effect, the state redefined marriage by removing the presumption of permanence. Marriage became a temporary arrangement rather than a permanent union of a man and a woman. No-fault divorce was supposed to increase personal freedom.
But the result of this legal change has been state involvement in the minutiae of family life, as it resolves disagreements over custody, visitation, and child support. Family courts decide where children go to school, or to church. I've even heard of a family court judge choosing a teenaged-girl's prom dress because the divorced parents couldn't resolve the issue.
... One might have thought that no-fault divorce would "get the government out of the divorce business." In fact, it did no such thing. The government got out of the front end of deciding what counted as a valid reason for divorce. But the government reappeared on the back end, in a far more intrusive form[.]
The "conservative argument" for same-sex marriage focuses only the "front-end" considerations while ignoring the very negative ramifications of limitless government intrusion on the backside. The conservative rationale is based on wishful thoughts borrowed from progressives, not on serious projections and reasoning.
Jennifer Thieme continued deconstructing the "conservative argument" in the Daily Caller:
1. "Gay marriage" really means "genderless marriage."
2. Genderless marriage means references to gender must be removed from the law. Words like "bride," "groom," "husband," "wife," "mother," and "father" must all be replaced with genderless terms such as "partner," "party" and "parent."
3. Removing gender references from the law removes the recognition of natural bonds between mothers and fathers with their children. These natural bonds are replaced with legal, artificial, and therefore subjective, bonds.
4. Removing gender references from the law affects every member of society, not just gay couples. It redefines marriage for the entire society.
5. Replacing natural bonds with state-defined bonds absolutely goes against the natural law founding of our country. Our Founding Fathers understood ... we [have] "unalienable rights." If there are any unalienable rights whatsoever, certainly the natural bond of a child to his own mother and father is chief among them.
6. By replacing natural bonds with artificial bonds, we'll be allowing the government to decide who counts as a parent, instead of biology. This will result in a significant amount of government intrusion into our lives. Legal challenges for the control of children will rise and we will see example after example of natural bonds being disregarded[.]
7. Most people do not realize how many legal changes must occur in order for marriage to accommodate gay couples. Some conservatives hope that by supporting gay marriage, they'll strengthen marriage and families. But only marriage based on and respecting natural bonds can do this[.] ... By definition, genderless marriage has already increased the scope of the government just by coming into existence.
The brilliance of the strategy devised by proponents of same-sex marriage is probably akin to the brilliance of Alexander Flemming's discovery of penicillin -- i.e., it was accidental. Proponents have stumbled upon the use of two simple words to further their cause: "fairness" and "equality." By employing these terms, so appealing and chock-full of meaning to all Americans, they are able to evoke a visceral, unthinking response, manufacturing consent very easily. Yet all voters need to ask whether same-sex marriage is truly a path to equality and fairness -- or is it a road to Leviathan, consuming our freedom and liberty in order to feed itself?
The common belief we Americans hold regarding freedom, liberty, justice, fairness, and equality is wonderful. We innately and emphatically assert that no one should ever be denied freedom of choice. In our day, prejudice against gays is just a faint shadow of what it once was. However, the abolition of prejudice against gays does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that same-sex marriage is inevitable or optimal. There are other avenues available, none of which demands immediate, sweeping, transformational legislation or court judgments.
Statists see great value in slowly chipping away at the bedrock of American culture: family life. The more that traditional families are weakened in our daily experience and as a matter of legality, the more government is able to freely insert itself into our lives in an authoritarian way. And it will.
Here's an excellent five-minute video explaining that marriage is an issue of biology, not bigotry.
Ensuring a better future for our children and grandchildren is more important than our generation's desire to make history. I invite readers in Maryland, Washington, Maine, and Minnesota to join me, a gay man, in November, voting against measures to establish same-sex marriage in your states. To do so won't make you a homophobe. It will merely confirm that you are an informed, clear thinker.