We make a terrible mistake whenever we focus the discussion on the nature of homosexuality – is it a sinful and destructive erotic perversion, or a valid, harmless way to express affection and sensuality? Since many Americans feel sympathetic to homosexuals because of their personal contacts, or else through media imagery and messages, they resist the notion that same sex love is wrong by its very nature. Even within religious communities, advocates of the gay agenda score points by asking, “If homosexuality is a sin, then why did God make me this way?”
The real issue behind the gay marriage dispute isn’t the validity of homosexual attraction, it’s the importance of gender differences--- and that’s a question on which nearly all Americans can agree.
Though a few radicals among the previous generation of feminists may have claimed that no significant distinction separated males and females, and promoted wishful thinking that insisted that all gender differences had been socially conditioned, thirty years of scientific investigation and real world experience now prove that the gap between men and women is huge and immutable. It’s no wonder that a triumphant bestseller (“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”) proclaimed different planetary origins for the two genders—confirming our instinctual understanding that vast contrasts in physiology, psychology, brain structure, and even spirituality continue to separate the sexes.
Certainly, the “GLBT Community” (designating “Gays, Lesbians, Bi-Sexuals, and Transgendered Individuals”) recognizes the overwhelming significance of gender differences. After all, modern gay identity emphatically denies the notion that the sexes are interchangeable: homosexual activists insist that gay people have no choice at all in selecting the gender of their significant others. The conventional wisdom suggests that opposite sex love is just as unthinkable for gay people as same sex love is unthinkable for straight people. This conviction, of course, brings with it the certainty that women remain so vastly, unbridgeably different from men that you could never substitute a woman for a man as the object of your affections, no matter how convenient it might be to do so.
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.
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?”
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.