The great *stigma* divide.

“You sent me the link to your blog, and I knew I was never going to open it,” one of my closest friends who falls on the other side of this issue told me.

It was reported that a family member said something to the effect of: “I just began reading a few words of her blog and it made my stomach turn.”

I have mulled these words over and over.  Both of these friends have known me since childhood when I was immersed in lesbian community.  Both of them see the depth of relationship that I have with my mother now.  But the repulsion regarding my support for traditional marriage is palpable.

Why.  The media and some gay-marriage supporters have been exceptionally successful in equating advocacy stigmafor man/woman marriage with support of miscegenation laws, and framing this argument as one of love vs. hate. Simply put:

For gay marriage = love of gays.

Against gay marriage = HATE.

We live in a culture that seems to allow entertainment to lead it by the nose.  When was the last time that you saw a Christian or supporter of man/woman marriage portrayed as loving and safe within mainstream media?


Guess what.  Media doesn’t get it right.  Nearly everyone I know who is a Christian has a family member, friend, or co-worker who is gay.  And guess what.  They don’t hate them.  Yes, sometimes things can be tense, but no one is getting “cut off.”  My Christian friends invite their gay family members in.  They accept them despite their difference.

One product of this media onslaught is the stifling of true dialogue.  It can whip both sides into an emotional frenzy and instead of seeking to truly know the one with whom you are speaking, you see only the worst of what sensationalists say about who they are.

My friends mentioned above can’t see me- there’s so much stigma in the way.  A stigma that media has crafted and reinforced through daily repetition.  When we attempt to talk about this issue, they aren’t talking to me.  They’re talking to the attention-hungry Westboro crazies.  They’re talking to the New Normal’s racist, homophobic, and insulting Jane.  They’re talking to Ann on Arrested Development.

Robert George puts it this way:

…advocates of [redefining marriage] are increasingly open in saying that they do not see these disputes about sex and marriage as honest disagreements among reasonable people of goodwill. They are, rather, battles between the forces of reason, enlightenment, and equality—those who would “expand the circle of inclusion”—on one side, and those of ignorance, bigotry, and discrimination—those who would exclude people out of “animus”—on the other. The “excluders” are to be treated just as racists are treated—since they are the equivalent of racists.

“You must be deeply conflicted over this issue,” another dear friend said to me.  If promoting traditional marriage meant hating gays, then I would be conflicted.  I know it’s a shocker to those who are willing to risk hearing a voice outside of the mainstream.  But the truth is, you can believe that men and woman give uniquely to childrearing and therefore advocate for traditional marriage… and not hate gay people.

For more on media misrepresentation, see “What is a bigot anyway?

For more on why kids need a mother AND a father, see “You’re only against gay marriage because of your religion.”

For more on how to love those in your life who are gay, see “Why do you hate gays?”

On why advocating for man/woman marriage is not like supporting miscegenation laws, “AsktheBreeder: The question of discrimination.”

14 thoughts on “The great *stigma* divide.

  1. You are very lucky to have your experience with Christian who aren’t cutting gays off, and still invite them in. My experience is not the same. I just have one question: is marriage’s purpose to raise children?

    • Sacred Struggler, thank you for your comments. I didn’t grow up in a Christian environment and I now live in a widely “unchurched” area. That translates into Christians who are living “on purpose.” (There’s not much benefit or reason around here to call yourself a Christian around here unless you are pretty serious about sacrificing for Christ.) So when it comes to relating to and living in community with those who identify as gay, what I see is a Christ-like love demonstrated regardless of differences.

      As to your question about the purpose of marriage, I don’t think I could have put it more succinctly than Beth’s statement below.

      “But every child is the product of a man and a woman, and therefore a heterosexual union reflects a certain essential reality that a homosexual union cannot. Marriage has many purposes – but the primary social purpose is not to promote the legal protection of the spouses but to protect the interests of the children.”

      I have addresses this extensively elsewhere in my blog. Specifically the post “Chapter Next.” Of course, I welcome any further dialogue or thoughts you may have on the subject!

      • I understand that idea. But one cannot apply that idea across the spectrum. If a man and woman find that they are incapable of bearing children or have no interest in having children, or are too old to do so, and are heterosexual their union is not devalued, is it? Aside from that I would love to see some proof that homosexual parents aren’t capable parents.

    • (Response to Feb 25 comments)
      There are selfish, negligent parents who are heterosexual, homosexual, and single parents. There are also loving, involved, selfless, responsible heterosexual, homosexual, and single parents. (I have the BEST example of an exceptionally capable parent who is in a same-sex relationship!) So let’s work from a level playing field. What I am saying is, all things being equal (let’s assume that everyone involved is parenting well), gender adds a significant and valuable aspect to child development. Both in how the child understands her world:
      and in how she sees herself:

      With heterosexual marriage, should children enter the picture, the needed components for health and development are present. With homosexual marriage, you will ALWAYS be missing two of those components- a biological connection with at least one parent, and the benefit of both gender’s input throughout the life of the child (with multifaceted impact).

      There are private and public purposes for marriage. People have differeing ideas about the private value of marriage. The public purpose of marriage is not to validate an emotional connection. The public service that marriage provides is to promote an environment where children thrive and where their rights are protected. The best social science we have clearly identifies that the household headed by a married mother and father gives a child the best chance at mental, physical, emotional, and academic success.

      Thanks for the continued dialogue, Sacred Struggler!

      • A parent is more than a person who performs certain tasks. I’m quite sure there are many men out there (heterosexual, homosexual and everything in between) who could do my job better than I could – if by that you meant taking care of the kids, packing the lunches, doing the laundry, cooking the meals, volunteering at school, cleaning up bodily fluids, reading bedtime stories, etc… 🙂 But being a mother (or father) is more than that, and the differences between men and women matter with regard to child rearing. I’m not talking about gender roles, which are like the clothes we wear – superficial and changeable. It doesn’t matter to me who earns more money, who cooks the meals, who changes the diapers… I’m talking about the vocations of motherhood and fatherhood – which are more like our skin, a part of who we are. And more importantly, a part of who our children are. I remember a Facebook photo that was posted by a friend of mine – it showed a famous actor and his male partner, with their two children – conceived through artificial insemination via a surrogate, with each child having a different biological father (they had both contributed sperm), so while they were born like twins they are actually half-siblings… Anyway, the caption to the photo read, “Two dads are better than none.” And I guess that was meant to be a jab at the fatherlessness suffered by so many children conceived by heterosexual couples – but how terribly sad that the loss of their mother isn’t even acknowledged. Like it’s some great thing that two children were purposely conceived into a situation in which they would not directly, consistently and naturally experience their mother’s love and nurturing. No matter how many “dads” they have, those children lost their mother – and not by happenstance. I think it’s incredibly sad that this is celebrated in our society.

      • Very interesting and sensitive discussion. Personally, I remain undecided on the whole gay marriage thing. However, I do think that while gender difference can enhance the way a child grows up and all the ways you mentioned. I do also believe that there are dynamics that a same gendered couple could give that a heterosexual couple couldn’t provide. Gender isn’t a fixed set of traits or qualities either.

        Personally, I think that the public purpose is to protect the assets of the married couple. With or without children the marriage still has purpose, both public and private.

        Love talking with you, by the way.

  2. Totally agree. And as for those who would characterize support of authentic marriage as primarily a “fundamentalist Christian” position, I just read a terrific article defending man/woman marriage written by a prominent French rabbi. It’s in the latest issue of First Things. Not sure it’s available yet online – will share the link if it is. I am a Catholic – not a fundamentalist – and I oppose legal recognition of same-sex “marriage”. The Westboro folks probably think I am going to hell anyway, being a papist and all. 🙂 Either way people think on this issue, it would be nice if it were at least acknowledged that there are reasoned, thoughtful and compassionate arguments against same-sex marriage. Some opponents of gay marriage hate gays. Some proponents of gay marriage hate Chritians. Most people on both sides do neither.

    • Beth! I love your comments! Yes, Bigot Christians DO exist, just like pedophile gays exist. But neither of those labels capture a majority of those on one side or the other. We do one another a disservice by suggesting that the sensational extreme is the norm (which is exactly what the media does to gay marriage opponents).

  3. The primary reason there is a legal recognition of marriage is because marriage is ordered toward the procreation and education of children. Spouses receive certain rights and recognition, but the purpose is to provide stability for child rearing. Not every couple will have children – whether, how soon, how many, etc. is a matter of privacy into which the state has no right to intrude. But every child – as “The Bigot” has so wisely pointed out – is the product of a man and a woman, and therefore a heterosexual union reflects a certain essential reality that a homosexual union cannot. Marriage has many purposes – but the primary social purpose is not to promote the legal protection of the spouses but to protect the interests of the children.

  4. I also will add that I’ve heard many people question the authenticity of man/woman marriage on the basis of our high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births. What right have we as heterosexuals (so the argument goes) to tell homosexual couples they can’t marry, when we have so clearly made a mockery of marriage ourselves. But I think that line of reasoning only serves to prove the point of how important marriage is to society – marriage based on the rights and interests of children – because so many of our social ills correlate directly with what has happened to the institution of marriage in recent decades.

  5. Pingback: “I’m not afraid of your bubbies Rabbi!” | Sacred Struggler

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