There are those who do not believe that the institution of marriage is under assault. There are those who do not believe that same-sex marriage is a knowing attempt to undermine the nature of marriage. There are those who do not believe that many homosexuals bear a particular animus for heterosexual marriage, and have designs beyond mere tolerance.
Then there are those of us who live in the real world.
In Washington, proponents of same-sex marriage, under the banner of the falsely named Defense of Marriage Alliance, have proposed a state ballot initiative that would require straight married couples to have children within three years or face annulment. "For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation," explained DOMA organizer Gregory Gadow. "The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine. If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they cannot have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage."
It seems intensely ironic that same-sex marriage advocates, who proclaim the basis of their politics to be consent, should sponsor such an initiative. But, of course, they are not serious; they are using marriage as a political club to make a point. Their point in Washington is purportedly to prove that traditional marriage is not solely about children -- and that if it is not about children, it is about discrimination for its own sake. But even same-sex marriage advocates realize that though traditional marriage sees children as the first priority, it does not rest its legitimacy solely on the basis of child-bearing and rearing.
The goal of same-sex marriage proponents is to elevate homosexuality to the same moral level as heterosexuality. If children are not the sole purpose of marriage, they say, any marriage is merely a grouping of two people who love each other. This is absurd. Marriage is implicitly about the relationship between man and woman. Marriage is codification of the idea that a man and a woman in a committed and sexual union make each other and the surrounding society better.
Women and men are inherently different. They are not interchangeable parts. Men have different strengths and weaknesses than women. A marital relationship between a man and a woman provides spiritual enrichment for each. The union between a single man and a single woman is, as the liturgy says, blessed.
That this blessed union produces the blessing of children demonstrates the Divine origin of such unions. Children are not merely the product of traditional marriage and the beneficiaries of it; they are Divine confirmation that the union of man and woman is special and good. The fact that certain traditional marriages do not produce children does not invalidate the general point that men and women belong together, just as the fact that broken cars exist does not demonstrate that ignition keys ought generally to be put in exhaust pipes.
Advocates of same-sex marriage argue that gender is literally meaningless. It is for that reason that they compare gender to race in legal contexts. Citing Loving v. Virginia , the Supreme Court case that ruled anti-miscegenation statutes unconstitutional, advocates claim that distinctions based on sex are the same as distinctions based on race.
If gender is meaningless, children do not need both mother and father; a father and a father, two mothers, six fathers and a mother -- any or all may suffice. To homosexual marriage proponents, the fact that only the sexual union between men and women produces children is an unfortunate accident of nature. Would that nature had made mankind completely androgynous, so as to demonstrate the complete and utter homogeneity of all people!
Gender is not meaningless, of course. The radical individualism that denies all distinction between men and women is deeply pernicious. It denies the spiritual in mankind. It denies the obvious physical and spiritual bounty springing from traditional marriage. It also denies to children the benefits of a mother and father.
In one sense, Washington's same-sex advocates do us a favor: They make clear that in order to deny homosexual marriage, we must uphold the beautiful and natural distinctions between men and women. They also make clear that we must uphold the value of heterosexuality over homosexuality. We must take up the gauntlet and, in doing so, vindicate the possibility of a higher spiritual elevation through the deepest possible human relationship.
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