By Laurie Higgins
A few weeks ago, I bumped into a friend who told me that she was sending a wedding gift to her good friend's daughter who is "marrying" her girlfriend in a "lavish" wedding for which her disapproving parents are paying.
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My friend shared that her friend, the mother of the "bride" and purportedly Catholic, explained tearfully that she feared losing her daughter if she didn't support her.
This "wedding" is taking place in a state in which same-sex marriage, thankfully, remains illegal, so both existentially and legally, it's not actually a marriage.
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I was struck by the remarkable absence of thought, analysis, and logic that shape my friend's views. Our discussion revealed that she has no understanding of the history and meaning of or public purposes for marriage. Her position is based solely on non-rational, subjective feelings; she could provide no evidence or justification for her reluctant acceptance of this same-sex wedding. What is so troubling about our discussion is that I suspect that her ignorance and unwillingness to think deeply about marriage is widespread.
She was confounded by a number of statements I made and questions I asked:
- She was confounded when I suggested that sending a gift is inappropriate. But why do we send wedding gifts to newlywed couples? What is marriage? What is the purpose for public ceremonies? Is there a moral obligation to celebrate through attendance and gift-giving all "wedding"ceremonies?
- My friend was confounded when I asked if she would send a gift if the wedding were between this girl and her brother.
- She was confounded when I asked if she would send a gift if the wedding were celebrating the union of multiple partners.
- She was confounded when I asked if her friend would finance a lavish wedding for the incestuous union of her daughter and son or for a polyamorous union out of fear of losing her child or children. My friend had no reasons to defend her position that marriages between consenting siblings or marriages between multiple people should not be celebrated but homosexual unions should be.
I pointed out that homosexual "marriage" is far more radical and a-historical than is either incestuous marriage or polygamy. Both of these forms of marriage have existed throughout history and at least maintain the central marital feature of sexual complementarity which reflects the public purposes of marriage: procreation and childrearing.
Do Homosexual Activists Want Civil Unions?
I attended a forum at the Chicago History Museum in September. The panelists were Lambda Legal attorneyCamilla Taylor, whose work focuses on promoting pro-homosexual legislation, and State Representative, lesbian Deborah Mell (D-Chicago). They both vigorously affirmed that they will never cease pushing for legalized same-sex marriage to which they received rousing applause. They explicitly stated that they will never settle for civil unions, even if civil unions provide to them all the legal and practical benefits of marriage (conservatives must equally vigorously oppose civil union legislation, which both Taylor and Mell are certain will pass in Illinois this year). Homosexual activists want marriage and marriage only (click HERE to watch a very short video clip in which two homosexual Chicago activists, Deborah Mell and Rick Garcia, make clear their position on civil unions and marriage).
At the Chicago History Museum forum, moderator and liberal Chicago Sun Times reporter Laura Washington asked the audience, which was composed primarily of homosexuals and their political allies, to raise their hands if they supported same-sex "marriage." Virtually every hand went up. She then asked for those who supported civil unions to raise their hands. Every single hand went down.
What Do Homosexual Activists Really Want?
Let's try a little thought experiment: Let's imagine we were to capitulate -- again -- and give homosexuals "marriage." But after granting them this term, we notice that there remains a particular and unique kind of relationship or institution that is identified by the following features: it is composed of two people of major age who are not closely related by blood and are of opposite sexes. We decide as a society and as language-users that there must be a term to identify this particular, commonplace, cross-cultural, and historical type of relationship. Let's call it "huwelijk."
In this thought experiment in which the term "marriage" would denote the union between two people of the same sex and "huwelijk" would denote the union of two people of opposite sexes -- both of which provide the same legal protections and benefits -- does anyone believe that homosexuals would be content?
I suspect that homosexuals would not be content. They would not rest even if they were to obtain all the practical benefits society currently accords to the only kind of sexual union that truly serves the public good; and they would not rest even if they were to win the term "marriage" itself.
Homosexuals will not rest until they have widespread public affirmation of their relationships which cannot be achieved unless they obliterate all distinctions -- including linguistic distinctions - between homosexual unions and heterosexual unions. Until there is no word to identify the union between one man and one woman that often produces biological children, homosexuals will not rest.
Newspeak in the Service of Homosexuality
In the novel 1984, George Orwell named the process in which homosexualists are now fervently engaging: Newspeak. Here is how Orwell explained Newspeak:
Newspeak was the official language of Oceania, and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of IngSoc, or English Socialism....
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all,... a heretical thought...should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever....
[T]he special function of certain Newspeak words... was not so much to express meanings as to destroy them....
[W]ords which had once borne a heretical meaning were sometimes retained for the sake of convenience, but only with the undesirable meanings purged out of them.
Homosexuals and their allies seek to eradicate from our lexicon any word that signals a distinction between heterosexual unions and homosexual unions, and to eradicate any words that suggest something positive about heterosexual unions. In other words, they seek to destroy both the denotation and connotations of the word "marriage."
The Destruction of an Essential Institution
It is remarkable that so many are willing to destroy the institution of marriage without ever giving much reasoned thought to what marriage by nature is and what public purpose it serves. G.K. Chesterton has something to say on this blind willingness to destroy an institution; and the jettisoning of the central feature of marriage, sexual complementarity, does, indeed, constitute the destruction of the institution of marriage:
There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it." This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution.
Impact of Homosexual Marriage
Homosexuals are correct in their assertion that the marriage of any particular homosexual couple is unlikely to affect the marriage of any particular heterosexual couple. But that's a silly non-argument. If Bob and Jim were to marry, their marriage would not affect mine. If Bob were to marry his sister, it wouldn't affect my marriage. If Bob were to marry five women, it wouldn't affect my marriage. If Bob were to marry even five children of assorted genders, it wouldn't affect my marriage. Does the absence of impact on my particular marriage in these cases provide justification for legalizing incestuous, polygamous, or pedophilic marriages?
The truth is that eventually the redefinition of marriage will affect the public's conception of marriage, the public's investment in marriage, children, public education, and the future health of America. Severing marriage from gender and marriage from procreation renders marriage irrelevant as a public institution.
In addition, there will be significant financial costs to taxpayers if civil unions or same-sex "marriages" are legalized.
Bans on Inter-racial Marriage ≠ Bans on Homosexual Marriage
In contorted efforts to discredit laws that permit only traditional marriage and to demonize those who support them, homosexuals promote the fatuous idea that these laws are equivalent to anti-miscegenation laws. This idea is based on the equally fatuous, unproven idea that homosexuality is analogous to race - -the fallacious analogy upon which their entire house of cards is built.
Laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are not equivalent to laws banning interracial marriage because homosexuality is not equivalent or analogous to race. Homosexuality is a condition defined by subjective experiences of desire (whether freely chosen or influenced by nature, nurture, or a combination of both) and volitional behavioral choices that are suitable and appropriate subjects for moral assessment.
Furthermore, anti-miscegenation laws were based on a deeply flawed understanding of both race and human nature. They were based on a false belief that different races were of fundamentally different natures. As Dennis Prager explains:
There are enormous differences between men and women, but there are no differences between people of different races. Men and women are inherently different, but blacks and whites (and yellows and browns) are inherently the same. Therefore, any imposed separation by race can never be moral or even rational; on the other hand, separation by sex can be both morally desirable and rational. Separate bathrooms for men and women is (sic) moral and rational; separate bathrooms for blacks and whites is (sic) not. . . . a black man's nature is not different from that of a white man, an Asian man, an Hispanic man. The same is not true of sex differences. Males and females are inherently different from one another.
Laws banning interracial marriages were based on the erroneous belief that whites and blacks are by nature different, when, in fact, whites and blacks are not by nature different. Laws that permit only heterosexual marriages are based on the true belief that men and women are by nature different.
Therefore, it is not only permissible, but essential that laws that regulate marriage take into account the very real differences between men and women.
Thomas Sowell explains that "The argument that current marriage laws 'discriminate' against homosexuals confuses discrimination against people with making distinctions among different kinds of behavior. All laws distinguish among different kinds of behavior."
A black man who wants to marry a white woman is seeking to do the same action that a white man who wants to marry a white woman seeks to do. A law that prohibits an interracial marriage is wrong because it is based on who the person is, not on what he seeks to do. But, if a man wants to marry a man, he is seeking to do an entirely different action from that which a man who wants to marry a woman seeks to do. A law that prohibits homosexual marriage is legitimate because it is based not on who the person is but rather on what he seeks to do.
Whereas the traditional definition of marriage emerges from and depends upon a proper understanding of the natures of and real differences between men and women, anti-miscegenation laws emerged from and depended upon erroneous understandings of the natures of different races. While there are no fundamental ontological differences between blacks and whites, there are significant ontological differences between men and women. Marriage is the primary cultural institution that recognizes and is centrally concerned with the ontological differences between men and women, differences that result in children whose proper development as well as the health of society are best served by sexually complementary unions. In their pursuit of universal public affirmation of their unproven ontological, moral, and political beliefs, homosexuals and their allies are demanding that the government eliminate the most enduring marital criterion of all: sexual complementarity.
Despite the claims of homosexuals, when discussing whether to legalize same-sex marriage, the issue is not equality vs. inequality. The central issue is to determine to what conditions the idea of equality applies. The political concept of equality does not demand that all types of conditions be considered identical or morally equivalent. Commitments to equality do not require that society refrain from making moral judgments about volitional acts.
Homosexuals are demanding that society accept the unproven, non-factual belief that same-sex desire and volitional homosexual acts constitute a condition that society must treat equally. This is a convoluted, deceptive way of compelling society to stop making moral distinctions about volitional behavior. Homosexuals assert that the idea of equality demands that we treat homosexual attraction and acts as morally equivalent to heterosexual attraction and acts. This is a perversion of the idea of equality and applied consistently would require that society treat all conditions defined by desire and volitional acts the same. A just society committed to the principle of equality has no moral or constitutional obligation to treat all sexual feelings and volitional acts as morally equivalent.
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge"
The most salient aspects of marriage as an institution sanctioned by the government are not subjective feelings of affection and sexual attraction. The "government" couldn't care less about private subjective feelings. The government cares about what serves the public good. What serves the public good is the welfare of future generations. And what best serves future generations is to be raised when possible by the biological parents who produce them. The government is involved in marriage in order to provide support for that type of relationship. If marriage were solely a private institution concerned only with emotional attachments and sexual desire, as homosexuals claim, then there would be no reason for the government to be involved at all. And there would be no legitimate reason to prohibit incestuous marriages or plural marriages.
There is no reason for society to grant either civil unions or marriage to a group of people whose self-identity is defined by disordered sexual attraction and immoral volitional sexual acts. And society has no moral obligation to provide any benefits to types of relationships that contribute nothing beneficial to the public good. This means we have no moral obligation to legalize either civil unions or same-sex "marriage," which are functionally identical.
Someone must do a much better job of educating people on the nature and morality of homosexuality; the nature and public purposes of marriage; and a proper understanding of the separation of church and state. That "someone" must include church leaders.