On a similar note, transgendered people also maintain that gender differences are all-important – so much so that they’re willing to undergo painful, elaborate and humiliating surgical and hormonal procedures with the hope of “reassigning” their gender identity. If men and women are, in any sense, interchangeable then the whole notion of this sort of sacrifice and discomfort for the sake of achieving your “true” sexual identity would make no sense whatever.
If, then, society has achieved a new consensus -- near unanimity, in fact-- on the issue of the significance of gender differences, it ought to be possible to reach more widespread agreement on key elements of the same sex marriage debate. If men and women remain irreducibly different, it’s dishonest to suggest that marrying a man is the precise equivalent of marrying a woman. That doesn’t mean that a male-male relationship is evil, or decadent, or doomed, but it does mean that it’s hugely, inarguably different in its very essence from a male-female relationship --- or, for that matter, from a female-female relationship. Man-woman connections involve a fusion of opposites in a primal, elemental way that same sex associations can’t replicate. You may believe that this binding of the two genders is no better – or perhaps even less beneficial – than a connection between two people of the same sex, but no honest observer can maintain that homosexual and heterosexual relationships are indistinguishable or interchangeable. The endlessly repeated argument of gay union advocates that “we don’t want to change the institution of marriage, we want to expand the institution of marriage” is deceitful on its face. Of course the expansion of matrimony to include same sex couples involves a huge alteration in the long-standing definition of marital dynamics. It requires the abandonment of the timeless notion that bringing male-and-female together in intimacy achieves special power not just because of the reproductive potential but because of the combination of two vastly different genders. A love between people of the same gender may be beautiful, sentimental, even noble, but it’s not he same thing as the union of male-and female. The basis of the natural family has always arisen from the idea of a “Marriage of Opposites” – and that phrase serves as the title of the forthcoming book by my own better half, psychologist and author Dr. Diane Medved.
This recognition answers one more of the constantly invoked arguments of the activists who seek to redefine marriage. “Why is it a threat to your marriage,” they ask, “if the government gives similar recognition to the marriage of two guys or two women in gay relationships?”
The response ought to be obvious: the problem with gay marriage isn’t that it harms my marriage, or yours, but that it changes the institution of marriage – for my children, my grandchildren, and all future generations. It downplays the essential, irrevocable nature of gender differences – and serves to undermine the crucial importance of gender specific roles in all relationships. A gay couple might claim that they fill distinctive roles in their relationship – with one woman working hard to support the family, for instance, while the other cooks and decorates and nourishes the kids. But choosing complementary roles for the sake of convenience or preference isn’t the same as recognizing that these contrasting approaches arise from your very essence as a man or a woman. There’s something arbitrary, synthetic and, indeed, temporary about a same sex couple attempting to imitate a heterosexual marriage by fulfilling distinct responsibilities in the relationship.
It’s entirely possible that gay marriage proponents might allege that it’s healthy for society to abandon long-standing gender roles, and that same-sex couples perform a public surface by blurring or erasing these old distinctions. That argument, however, flies in the face of an increasingly overwhelming consensus, as well as common sense, that views men and women as irreducibly dissimilar, and instinctively opposes trendy efforts to blur the distinctions. In that context, the gay marriage debate rightly takes its place as one crucial battle in a much larger struggle – to preserve recognition of male-female differences. And that’s a battle that conservatives should (and must) be able to win.