COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP) -- U.S. Rep. Barney Frank infamously asked a question earlier this decade that has become one of the central questions surrounding the same-sex "marriage" debate: "How will my same-sex marriage harm your marriage?"
It gets asked constantly and is meant to be a discussion-stopper. But the problem is that it sees marriage as purely a private relationship, hermetically sealed off from all other parts of community life. It reveals a complete lack of understanding of what marriage actually is -- not just in our country, or for people of faith, but across all human cultures. Marriage is what anthropologists call a "human universal" because it is found in all human cultures throughout time. And it exists as a heterosexual institution throughout the world and history, not in the majority, but exclusively.
But the real answer to Congressman Frank's question is quite simple: "Your same-sex marriage will do nothing to impact my marriage. But your marriage is not what we're debating in our nation. We are debating whether it is wise to radically and permanently redefine marriage in our nation for everyone. And that is quite significant indeed."
First, same-sex "marriage" not only redefines marriage wholesale for everyone, but it actually deconstructs humanity itself. That's a very strong and consequential assertion, but that is exactly what it does. Same-sex "marriage" essentially creates genderless marriage by saying 1), the fundamental male and female nature of humanity doesn't matter in any way, and 2), the different parties to a marriage are wholly interchangeable. Male and female as the basic foundation of family -- as well as society -- simply become preferential, like your taste for Rocky Road or Butter Pecan ice cream. Solely a matter of personal taste.
But the way this really deconstructs humanity is that it says that you as a husband or father, or you as a wife or mother, have no real meaning or significance in your fundamental humanity -- a humanity which always reveals itself as either male or female. In fact, same-sex parenting says your essence as a man or woman is found only in your reproductive material. What does a lesbian couple ask from a man in order for them to become parents? Only his sperm. In fact, this fact has been clearly admitted by lesbian activists in products they can purchase for the babies. A t-shirt or infant onesie proudly declares, "My Daddy's Name is Donor." No joke. And two men who want to become parents must go next door and borrow only an egg from the female half of humanity. "Want any help mothering your child?" the woman might ask. "No, we just got everything we need from motherhood thank you!"
Same-sex "marriage" and parenting reduces male and female/fatherhood and motherhood to microscopic reproductive material. How do you feel about that as man or women raising boys and girls to be good men and women? What kind of world will they enter adulthood in?
And because same-sex "marriage" declares humanity wholly genderless, it also redefines the family. If male and female are merely sentimental ideas, with no practical, essential qualities for family, then family, parenting and kinship radically change. An important 1996 essay in the gay OUT magazine makes this clear, admitting that legalizing same-sex "marriage" is "a chance to wholly transform the definition of family in American culture. ... Our gay leaders must acknowledge that gay marriage is just as radical and transformative as the religious right says it is." (emphasis in original) They go on to say that same-sex "marriage" will be "one of the great social experiments in this nation's history," ensuring that "ather than being transformed by the institution of marriage, gay men -- some of whom have raised the concept of the 'open relationship' to an art form -- could simply transform the institution itself, making it more sexually open, even influencing their heterosexual counterparts."
Same-sex "marriage" would redefine parenting, transforming it from a biological into a legal institution. Even today, saying a child has a right to a mother and father has been deemed hate-speech.
But same-sex "marriage" is also threatening religious liberty. Activists have tried to comfort religious folks by saying "your pastor will never be forced to perform same-sex weddings" -- as if that is as far as religious faith goes. But there is a growing list of real-life ways that citizens' and organizations' rights are being trampled. Here are only a few.
-- Catholic Charities had to shut down their large-scale adoption work in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. because they refuse to place children in same-sex homes and because they believe orphaned children should get a mother and father.
-- Wedding photographers in New Mexico were charged with violating state anti-discrimination laws because they refused to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony.
-- The Salvation Army in San Francisco lost a $3.5 million contract providing important social services to the poor because it refused to provide domestic-partner benefits.
-- Churches in Canada have been threatened because they refuse to allow same-sex wedding parties to use their social halls.
-- A lesbian couple filed a discrimination complaint against a Methodist facility in New Jersey because it denied their request to use the group's boardwalk pavilion for their commitment ceremonies. The couple won.
Chai Feldblum was recently appointed by President Obama as a commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). When asked what she thought about the intersection of religious freedom and gay rights, she bluntly said, "I'm having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win." She stunningly elaborated, "Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that's the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner."
Same-sex "marriage" is not just about one's personal marriage. It is fundamentally about how we define and understand marriage, family and humanity itself. And for the first time in the history of our nation, religious freedom is being asked to move to the back of the bus. And the reason is to make room for sexual and familial experimentation.
Glenn T. Stanton is the director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., and is the author of the new book, "The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage" (Moody, 2011).
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