Next week voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington will vote on whether to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.
Given that there are good people on both sides of this issue, how are we to explain their opposing views?
The primary explanation is this: Proponents and opponents ask two different questions.
Proponents of same-sex marriage ask: Is keeping the definition of marriage as man-woman fair to gays? Opponents of same-sex marriage ask: Is same-sex marriage good for society?
Few on either side honestly address the question of the other side. Opponents of same-sex marriage rarely acknowledge how unfair the age-old man-woman definition is to gay couples. And proponents rarely, if ever, acknowledge that this unprecedented redefinition of marriage may not be good for society.
That is why proponents have it much easier. All they need to do is to focus the public's attention on individual gay people, show wonderful gay individuals who love each other, and ask the American public: Is it fair to continue to deprive these people of the right to marry one another?
When added to Americans' aversion to discrimination, to the elevation of compassion to perhaps the highest national value, and to the equating of opposition to same-sex marriage with opposition to interracial marriage, it is no wonder that many Americans have been persuaded that opposition to same-sex marriage is hateful, backwards and the moral equivalent of racism.
Is there any argument that can compete with the emotionally compelling fairness argument?
The answer is that one can -- namely, the answer to the second question, Is it good for society?
Before answering that question, however, it is necessary to respond to the charge that opposition to same-sex marriage is morally equivalent to opposition to interracial marriage and, therefore, the moral equivalent of racism.
There are two responses:
First, this charge is predicated on the profoundly false premise that race and sex (or "gender" as it is now referred to) are analogous.
They are not.
While there are no differences between black and white human beings, there are enormous differences between male and female human beings. That is why sports events, clothing, public restrooms, and (often) schools are routinely divided by sex. But black sporting events and white sporting events, black restrooms and white restrooms, black schools and white schools, or black clothing stores and white clothing stores would be considered immoral.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”