If gay marriage, what then?

Public opinion has changed rapidly regarding gay marriage as evidenced in this Pew Research study.   The continued glorification and normalization of gay relationships and parenting within media is likely to continue, and with our culture’s propensity to be shaped by those compelling (though not wholly realistic) images and stories, I think it is probable that gay marriage will be the law of our land in short order.  So I have wondered about what this discussion will look like after same-sex marriage is legalized.

Last week, a friend sent me a link to an interview with San Francisco Archbishop Cordileone.  He addresses many questions that have been covered on asktheBigot, and does so with more eloquence.  So if you have a few Cordileonemoments, I highly recommend reading the article in its entirety.  But what really struck me is his answer to two questions.

Q: If the Supreme Court opens the floodgates to gay marriage in California (or beyond), what will be the result?

A: If the Supreme Court overturns Prop 8, this will not go down in history as the Loving v. Virginia but as the Roe v. Wade decision of our generation.

No matter what the Supreme Court rules, this debate is not over. Marriage is too important and the issues raised by treating same-gender unions as marriages are too fundamental to just go away. Just as Roe v. Wade did not end the conversation about abortion, so a ruling that tries to import same-sex marriage into our Constitution is not going to end the marriage debate, but intensify it.

We will have a bitterly polarized country divided on the marriage issue for years if not generations to come.

Q: Are you worried about the recent trend in courts and states going against you? How best to stop that trend?

A: The natural law has a power written on the human heart that doesn’t go away.

Notice how there is no controversy in this country now over the evil of Jim Crow laws. Shortly after the Civil Rights Act the cultural change was complete. This is because it was the right thing to do. The truth cannot be suppressed indefinitely.

Draw a contrast here with the pro-life movement: After the Roe decision, it was commonly thought that our society would soon easily accept the legitimacy of abortion. But what has happened? The pro-life movement is stronger now, 40 years later, than it ever has been. This is because of the truth: Abortion is the killing of an innocent human life. That is not a matter of opinion or religious belief; it is a simple fact that cannot be denied.

The same principle applies with marriage: It is simply a natural fact that you need a man and a woman to make a marriage and that a child’s heart longs for the love of both his or her mother and father. Even if the Supreme Court rules against this truth, the controversy will not die out, as it hasn’t on the abortion issue.

The problem is, the longer a society operates in denial of the truth, the greater is the harm that will be done. The examples of the racist policies and practices of the past in our own country make this clear, as does all the harm that abortion has done to women and all those in her network of relationships.

With marriage, we have to consider the harm that will be caused by enshrining in the law the principle that children do not need a mother and a father. The circumstances of our struggles change but the truth does not.

What are your thoughts, reader?  If same-sex marriage is legalized across this land, will the debate dissolve or intensify?

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104 thoughts on “If gay marriage, what then?

  1. I think it’s obvious that it will dissolve because everyone will see there’s no difference between a gay couple and a straight couple in terms of positive and negative outcomes. Comparing it with abortion is ludicrous in the extreme. As usual, Christians come at everything from the wrong angle. The abortion debate is much more helpfully approached from the angle of working to reduce unwanted pregnancies through education. The gay marriage debate is much more helpfully approached by not obsessing about other people’s sex lives. Seriously, if the Bible matters that much, start a campaign to ban divorce.

    • Violetwisp, I’m curious what you mean by “positive and negative outcomes”? Do you mean with regard to divorce rates or childrearing, or both? In any case, I’m not sure that really gets to the heart of the matter, because marriage is about more than “outcomes”. It is a recognition of a deeper reality, and that is what the archbishop was getting at. The abortion example is not at all ludicrous, because there again what you have is a denial of reality on the part of so many – that in legalizing abortion we have legalized the taking of innocent human life. Period. They’re not equivalent issues from a moral standpoint, but the archbishop was speaking in terms of natural law, civil law and society. We Christians may seem to “come at everything from the wrong angle”. I’m sure many people find it more “helpful” (not to mention comfortable) to speak of abortion in terms of reducing unplanned pregnancies – which is a laudable goal, and people of good will and sound reasoning can and do disagree on how best to accomplish it – but as long as legal abortions occur it is still state-sanctioned murder. A reduction in numbers does not change that reality.

      Trust me, we’re not (at least most of us aren’t) “obsessing about other people’s sex lives”. I barely have time for my own. But sexual intercourse is the defining characteristic of the marital relationship, the characteristic that sets it apart from other loving relationships (including those in which children are sometimes raised, such as a single mom living with her widowed mother), and therefore gender is relevant to marriage.

      I could have a very long conversation about this topic without quoting the Bible at all. Partly because I’m Catholic, and we’re not very good at Bible-quoting. 😉 But I do hope you’ll read the archbishop’s entire interview, as there is very little (if any) Bible quoting as I recall. And I would be all for an initiative to ban divorce – but I think that’s been tried before in different times and places, and things do tend to get rather ugly. There is no perfect human endeavor, and sadly marriages do fail. Even Moses had to allow divorce under the otherwise very strict Jewish law of his time, because of “the hardness of [people’s] hearts”. I think we see in the impact divorce has had on our society why marriage is so important and should not just be treated as a private arrangement between consenting adults. I would like to see a reconsideration of “no-fault” divorce laws, though, because it has become way too easy and there are few consequences for choosing to end one’s marriage that are not also suffered by the spouse who doesn’t wish to divorce. I have someone very dear to me experiencing that situation right now, and it is devastating. Not to mention infuriating. So I have no quibble with the implication that we have failed marriage as a society in many ways already. And Christians bear responsibility for whatever part we have played in that. All the best…

      • Hi Beth, thanks for your considered reply.
        “I’m curious what you mean by “positive and negative outcomes”?”
        I mean in terms of the positive or negative experiences the couple or any children have.

        ” in legalizing abortion we have legalized the taking of innocent human life”
        In legalising abortion, we are acknowledging that unwanted pregnancies happen all the time, and that when abortions are not legal, women ALWAYS resort to dangerous illegal measures that result in the same level of terminations plus harm or death for themselves. We are also acknowledging that there are different perspectives on when life begins and taking scientific fact as our guide to determining when this is.

        “There is no perfect human endeavor”. So, heterosexuals should be allowed to express their relationships as they wish and homosexuals not? How can heterosexual people argue that homosexuals don’t have a right to express their commitment to a relationship in the same way as heterosexuals can? I personally have no interest in marriage, but I wouldn’t stand in the way of anyone who wishes the public ceremony and piece of paper, as I understand some people have a stronger adherence to traditional rites of passage than I have.

      • Hi Violetwisp – I am formatting this incorrectly, I’m sure, so hopefully this will show up on the blog in a way that keeps the discussion in the proper order.

        I think where “conservatives” and “liberals” (terms I hate, by the way, but for my own lack of better ones…) often differ on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, etc., is the philosophical approach to civil laws (and, by extension, government) and what their purposes are. You mention the issue of abortion, the blanket (and practically unlimited) legalization of which – under Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton – is often justified by the argument that it would “happen anyway”, often with graver physical harm to the woman. No doubt it would (and did) in some cases. So the answer, in many people’s minds, is to legalize it in order to at least mitigate some of that harm. Though I empathize strongly with the desire to help women (being one myself, and having lived a good portion of my adult life very lucky not to have ended up in that position myself…) the trouble I have with that argument (in addition to the fact that the statistics don’t support the idea that there were a million plus illegal abortions a year prior to Roe v. Wade – there are that many legal ones per year now – and thousands of women dying as a result – nor are women all that “safe” in many cases, as the current Gosnell trial proves) is that it seems to have very little interest in the question of truth – which is what (in my view) the law should be getting at. By “truth”, I don’t mean religious revelation but that which is possible to know, universally, through observable, objective, rational thought and evidence.

        With regard to marriage, there is a great deal of observable, objective, rational thought that supports the principle of marriage as a fundamentally heterosexual endeavor. A central aspect of that reasoning is the natural right of every child to be known, loved and raised by the mother and father who brought him/her into being and who are in a committed, legally-recognized relationship to one another. Does that happen every single time, and is it always a disastrous outcome when it doesn’t? No. Does every heterosexual couple have the ability or the inclination to procreate? No. Does that then make it okay to purposely bring a child into a situation in which s/he will not be raised by both biological parents? Also no. And that is part of what a legal claim to marriage by same-sex partners would enshrine in the law and in the culture – as opposed to the very different question of interracial marriage, the laws prohibiting such having no basis in objective, rational thought.

        Should heterosexuals “be allowed to express their relationships as they wish and homosexuals not”? Of course not! That’s not what marriage is, legally or culturally. If anything, marriage limits the ways in which one can properly express his/her sexuality, because it creates a presumption of exclusivity. Privately, people can express their relationship as they wish. Publicly, in the realm of marriage, not so much. At least, it ought not be that way, and those arguing in favor of maintaining marriage as a heterosexual institution typically aren’t the ones cheering for such perversions as “reality TV” shows like “The Bachelor”, phony celebrity “marriages”, etc. Those are harder distinctions to make legally – but if Kim Kardashian and Chris What’s-His-Face could be forced to hash out their divorce agreement while sharing a jail cell for the crime of making a mockery of marriage, I’d be all for it. 😉

        Sorry if this is rambling and not very well thought-out, grammatically or otherwise – we are off for a much-needed-and-longed-for week at the beach tomorrow, and still lots of preparation left to do. Thanks for your reply – take care!

    • Hi Violetwisp,

      Thanks for reading and for the comments.

      The Archbishop’s reasoning above is not one of being obsessed with others’ sex lives. Rather it is simply that “we have to consider the harm that will be caused by enshrining in the law the principle that children do not need a mother and a father.”

      Your thoughts that “everyone will see there’s no difference between a gay couple and a straight couple in terms of positive and negative outcomes” is one I hear often. To make such a claim (that overrides the best social science available and the naturalist-based logic that the conditions under which a child was conceived likely contains the ideal factors for childrearing) would take many studies, over many years and would utilize large random samples. That body of research does not exist today.

      There are voices of adult children (you will not hear them within mainstream media) who are honest about gay parenting. Many are like me- loving and adoring their gay parent but honest about the drawbacks of their childhood family model. I have two other friends with gay parents who see the brokenness of their childhoods but who choose not to speak out publicly because they recognize that those are conversations best had in private.

      Here are a couple excepts of adult children reflecting on the loss that they experienced as a result of being raised by two women:

      “It is not therefore the taboo against homosexuality that made me suffer, but rather, gay parenting. Homosexuals should naturally be embraced with brotherhood. They enrich humanity and if it is necessary, of course, one ought to show them the same rights as heteros, as much as possible, but this equality cannot be applied rashly to the ‘right to a child’ which exists nowhere and can be drawn from no text at all. I suffered from the indifference of adults to the intimate sufferings of children, starting with mine. In a world where their rights are each day rolled back, in truth, it is always the rights of adults that hold sway. I also suffered from the lack of a father, a daily presence, a character and a properly masculine example, some counterweight to the relationship of my mother to her lover. I was aware of it at a very early age. I lived that absence of a father, experienced it, as an amputation.” http://englishmanif.blogspot.com/2013/01/le-figaro-runs-confessional-of-man.html

      “I had no male figure at all to follow, and my mother and her partner were both unlike traditional fathers or traditional mothers. As a result, I had very few recognizable social cues to offer potential male or female friends, since I was neither confident nor sensitive to others. Thus I befriended people rarely and alienated others easily. Gay people who grew up in straight parents’ households may have struggled with their sexual orientation; but when it came to the vast social universe of adaptations not dealing with sexuality—how to act, how to speak, how to behave—they had the advantage of learning at home. Many gays don’t realize what a blessing it was to be reared in a traditional home. My home life was not traditional nor conventional. I suffered because of it, in ways that are difficult for sociologists to index. Both nervous and yet blunt, I would later seem strange even in the eyes of gay and bisexual adults who had little patience for someone like me. I was just as odd to them as I was to straight people.” http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/08/6065/

      • You talk about ” ideal factors for childrearing”. How many heterosexual couples manage to achieve an ‘ideal’? Single parent families due to death or separation are all over the place and many children emerge unscathed. Children are subject to abuse and neglect all the time, especially by parents who give little thought to the responsibilities they accidentally fall into. A clear advantage for any child with homosexual parents is that they had to carefully choose and dearly want children – the children are not being parented by someone making the most of a mistake, which is the unfortunate reality for many kids in heterosexual families.

        I’ve already read one of the stories you link to on this blog, and my immediate reaction was that I, and most other children raised in ‘normal’ heterosexual families, at some point in our lives analyse the environment we were raised in and blame our parents for everything we don’t like about our lives. It’s part of growing up and achieving independence, and most people who haven’t suffered severe abuse move on from this. Besides which, he wasn’t the product of a permanent gay marriage, but a recent relationship at the tail-end of childrearing (something many children from heterosexual families undergo and have problems with), and he’s dealing with unresolved issues following the death of his mother.

        In terms of gender roles, I know you are well versed in the difference between sex and gender – each individual parent brings their individual qualities. However, I think it is the responsibility of all parents to ensure their children have in their lives as wide a range of role models as possible, and are exposed to the true variety personalities and opinions that life holds. Home schooling is a bad idea, and bringing up children with no access to bonds with either one sex or the other is always a bad idea.

        I cannot see how anything you present relates exclusively to gay marriage.

        • Hi Violetwisp. Looking at the data is really important here. The truth is there is not agreement on outcomes for children raised is same-sex-headed household built on studies that meet a high level of scientific scrutiny.

          Here is a breakdown of the research that supports your statement about outcomes being no different between heterosexual and homosexual parents:

          Professor Douglas W. Allen, who teaches economics at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, came to a similar conclusion. In a paper published last year, Allen reviewed 52 studies of gay parenting from 1995 to 2010. Most of these studies concluded that gay parents performed just as well, or better, than opposite-sex parents – a conclusion that was not warranted given the limitations of those studies, Allen found.

          Besides being based upon small, non-random samples, Allen found numerous other methodological problems. One problem, for instance, was that for many of the studies the well-being of the children was determined by asking the parents. Parents, obviously, are not an objective source. This may be even more true if the parents know that their answers will be used to answer whether their lifestyle choice is the best setting for the raising of their children. One study even said that its data suggests that children in same-sex households are less susceptible to child abuse because when the study asked same-sex parents if they abused their children, they answered “no.”

          Some advocates of gay parenting point to the sheer number of studies showing favorable results as evidence that the science is conclusive. But, as Allen points out, a large amount of weak research does not add up to strong research: “A series of weak research designs and exploratory studies do not amount to a growing body of advanced research.” Allen also points out that most of these studies are authored by a small number of researchers and many use some of the same data sets.

          Allen was also struck by the amount of political advocacy he found in these research articles. The conclusions almost always made recommendations regarding gay parenting for lawyers, judges and the like, but the research did not support those recommendations. One common tactic was to report a non-finding as a finding. For instance, it might be reported that no evidence was found that children of gay parents were worse off than children of heterosexual parents. This is certainly true, but so is the corollary – no evidence was found that children of gay parents were as well off as children of heterosexual parents. Yet, the corollary was not mentioned. http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-supreme-court-gay-parenting-and-science-part-1-92858/#3zjYVXRaDY4muHXk.99

          Another rigorous examination of those studies can be found here:
          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000580

          There has been one study- The New Family Structures Study (NFSS)- which does evaluate the outcomes of same-sex parenting and which utilized a large number of respondents, chosen at random from the population being studied. (Random means that everyone in the population has an equal chance of being chosen for the study.) This study employed control groups do that results could be distinguished between the group being studied and everyone else.

          The New Family Structures Study (NFSS), provides the most representative picture to date of young adults whose parents had same-sex relationships. This is the second-largest such sample of children whose parents had same-sex relationships, after the Census.” Here is a portion of the NFSS Abstract:

          The study compares “how the young-adult children of a parent who has had a same-sex romantic relationship fare on 40 different social, emotional, and relational outcome variables when compared with six other family-of-origin types. The results reveal numerous, consistent differences, especially between the children of women who have had a lesbian relationship and those with still-married (heterosexual) biological parents. The results are typically robust in multivariate contexts as well, suggesting far greater diversity in lesbian-parent household experiences than convenience-sample studies of lesbian families have revealed.” The full study is here and it’s fascinating. If you don’t read the whole thing, at least look at the tables of results in section 3.1.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000610

      • @ statisonline
        I’m not familiar with the ‘various conclusions’ you’ve seen from studies, I’ve never seen one that suggests more negative outcomes with homosexual parents. Could you point me in that direction of such studies? If it’s anything from the American College of Pediatricians, I think we all know we can dismiss it as biased ‘research’ from a small breakaway faction of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association, have dismissed these findings as non-factual. Please check ‘LGBT_parenting’ on wikipedia and tell me if any of many professional organisations listed there don’t know what they’re talking about.

        I’m also not sure what you expect the data you’ve linked to will tell me. Perhaps that gay men can suffer from a range of problems, particularly in their youth, and almost exclusively as a result of being a minority who are discriminated against in society. Shame on the people who make their lives so difficult. And in spite of these issues there is no evidence that they don’t make as good caregivers as homosexual couples.

      • I’ve tried that link twice. It doesn’t talk about levels of abuse as compared GLBT to Hetero marriages/relationships. What are these various studies? The link you provided is to health and healthcare issues. It does not show this data alongside same data for heteros. Not very useful for your purposes here. Is there some other page we should be looking at?

      • @askthebigot The ScienceDirect study you link to looks at differences “between the children of women who have had a lesbian relationship and those with still-married (heterosexual) biological parents.” What does this tell us about gay marriage? Nothing. It doesn’t even specify long-term relationship, and it tells you nothing about what relationship was in place with the choice was made to have children. Rather than distributing studies like this, you should stick to the line that no complete analysis can be made till further down the line.

        • Violetwisp, it is not a perfect study. It just happens to be the only one that speaks to parenting outcomes which meets the standards of good social science. It tells us that before anyone can make a statement such as “children raised in same-sex-headed households fare just as well as those raised in married households” many more years of research must be conducted.

          Children who have a same sex parent likely came from a heterosexual union which then dissolved. Many pro-gay marriage advocates strive to study the more “pure” model where the children were raised exclusively within that home. But finding those children at random is difficult, and most of them have not reached adulthood. That is one reason why most studies on the subject enlisted volunteers for their research.

          The same bisexual man I quoted earlier said this:
          “Where do children of LGBT parents come from? If the parents are 100-percent gay or lesbian, then the chances are that the children were conceived through surrogacy or insemination, or else adopted. Those cases are such a tiny percentage of LGBT parents, however, that it would be virtually impossible to find more than a half-dozen in a random sampling of tens of thousands of adults.” http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/03/7912/

      • Webmaster, Im wingman rather than wingwoman lol.

        Violetwisp, the topic of same-sex parenting isnt my forte. Accordingly Im going to decline your invitation to comment on the ‘LGBT_parenting’ entry on Wikipedia. I focus more on the differences between homosexual and heterosexual relationships per se. But I am aware of publications that suggest more negative outcomes from homosexual parenting than from heterosexual parenting, and yes I can refer you to some. However, in doing so, I cannot vouch for their quality. I havent even read them:
        – Sarantakos (1996)
        – An article by Douglas W Allen, Catherine Pakaluk and Joseph Price, recrunching the data of a (2010) study by M. Rosenfeld: “Nontraditional families and childhood progress through school.” Demography, 47, 755-775.
        – Regnerus (2012)
        I assume that as I see on other websites, people will respond with comments about why they feel these studies and publications are flawed. I probably wont join the discussion further though, because I dont consider the topic of parenting to be my field. However, Im happy to further discuss your comment that “there’s no difference between a gay couple and a straight couple in terms of positive and negative outcomes”, if you are referring to non-parenting situations.

        Myatheistlife if you go to the linked page, download the PDF file and go to page 14, you can find comparative data for various groups of sexualities.

        Best regards.

      • It’s meaningless to compare children who brought up by a married heterosexual couple with children whose mother has had ‘a lesbian relationship’. Instability is implied from the outset. Any random relationship will do.

        • I hear what you are saying Violetwisp. My point is until repeated studies are be conducted about parenting outcomes, the statement “children fare just as well” in any other arrangement outside of the married mother/father home is opinion. And an opinion that goes against the grain of biology and the best social science is not a solid basis on which to legislate.

          • “And an opinion that goes against the grain of biology and the best social science is not a solid basis on which to legislate.” Yet an opinion is what is used to damn a “practicing” Gay person to hell. Don’t even try and tell me your opinion is God’s opinion. So what if that is how God originally made the world – this is where we are now – You seem to find orthodoxy as being important, by far the orthodox view of saints through out time believed women to be property, polygamy to be OK, slavery OK, racism OK, genocide OK and they all followed your God and your bible. We are not mindless twits, we do not have to follow any law if it is crap – even if we think it comes from God.

  2. Hi friend… I’ve been meaning to ask you what you think of this – and you may have addressed this in a previous post and I missed it, so I apologize for any duplication. When the Presbyterian Church was debating marriage last summer, one strand of the conversation was about getting the church out of the marriage business altogether – at least the legal side of it. What do you think of that – that the state or federal government would issue and solemnize marriage licenses, and leave the churches free to sanctify or bless those marriage covenants as it chooses (but without having to sign the legal documents)? As a minister, I like the idea – it allows me to be a pastor at a wedding, rather than also having to be an “agent of the state.” It’s not quite the topic you discuss here, and it wouldn’t solve the problem for people who believe gay marriage itself is bad for society, but it would help delineate the Christian idea of marriage from the state or federal government’s description of it.

    • Hello Aimee! So great to “see” you on the blog! I appreciate your thoughts especially in light of the work you have done on this issue within the faith community.

      Thanks for your comments. You are not alone in your idea that the church and state should function separately. Tony Compolo makes a similar argument in this post. http://www.redletterchristians.org/a-possible-compromise-on-the-gay-marriage/

      Your suggestion on having the church step away from conducting state business is a good one. But isn’t that already happening to some degree? In terms of leaving “churches free to sanctify or bless those marriage covenants as it chooses”? My husband can (and does) say no to some people who would like him to marry them for various reasons (usually because they would like a quick wedding and don’t necessarily want to participate in pre-marital counseling). Maybe you could explain more how these two are intertwined. I would appreciate your perspective.

      As mentioned in my last post (Engaging the World), I don’t think that as Christians we should be making religious arguments within the discussion on civil marriage anyway- another reason why I appreciated the Archbishop’s interview. I am saying that if as a nation we are going to promote (institutionalize, incentivize) a family structure, it should be one that at least has the hope of wholeness for a child.

      Thank you again for chiming in! Stop by anytime. 😉

      • I actually read your blog quite often but then get distracted or sidetracked before I have a chance to comment! I appreciate the way in which you engage the questions so I do like to read and try to keep track of what you’re writing (though in recent weeks I’ve not been a very good follower!).

        The sentence of mine that you quote is one I rewrote several times because I couldn’t figure out exactly how to say what I wanted to say. I’m still not sure it’s quite right, but the point I was trying to make was that churches – or denominations – could make decisions on their own about what kinds of unions they wanted to bless or sanctify without regard to civil law, which (I think) would benefit both those who support gay marriage and those who don’t. For example, my denomination currently allows blessings of same-sex unions, but not their marriages (so the pastor cannot sign legal marriage documents for same-sex couples, according to our church laws). If the legal marriage question were removed, different churches could decide whether or not to bless same-sex unions but would not have to debate the question of “what constitutes a marriage” in the eyes of the law at the same time. There are a lot of people in our congregations who are uncomfortable with the idea of same-sex “marriage” but want same-sex couples to have the same rights as straight ones, and this would provide some relief for them because the church itself wouldn’t have any role in determining what “marriage” is legally.

        For churches that don’t sanction same-sex unions, the question of same-sex marriage and whether or not such unions could take place in the church would be removed entirely. In an odd way, that would allow a same-sex couple to participate in such a church more fully, because whether or not they would get married there would not be a question. If they – or anyone else in the church – decided to get married, they could do so – and then they could figure out what role they would like the church to play in blessing their union, or not. The pastor or priest would be free to discuss with the couple how the church community might support and engage their marriage, without having to be the gatekeeper for the marriage itself.

        I’m still not saying this exactly right, so forgive me – I’m still trying to think through the consequences in my head. I guess the bottom line is that somehow in my mind removing clergy from the legal aspects of marriage allows clergy more freedom to focus on God in the unions they bless – and those they choose not to bless – and allows others who may or may not want God at the center of their marriages to get married without the trappings of church, as they choose. We do have that to some extent today, but I’ve had people ask me to do their wedding simply because I’m the only minister they know – they aren’t connected to any church community, but they feel like a minister should stand up there and hear their vows. It’s always felt a bit strange to me to be in that role – a minister who conducts weddings for people not involved in a church – so I’d be happy to relinquish that part to the state.

        I’ll think about it some more to see if I can clear up my muddled thoughts. 🙂

        Your response to the other comment above made me wonder something else – whether studies have been done that separate children raised in broken homes by gay couples (that is, children of divorce whose mother or father goes on to be in a same-sex relationship) from those raised by gay couples from birth. That would be an interesting distinction in the research.

        • Thanks for the explanation. Perhaps because our church is more “independent” in nature (which has benefits and drawbacks) I haven’t looked at the issue from a church standpoint in the way you have. What you are saying makes sense especially if within your denomination there are various ideas about marriage.

          With the gay parenting becoming more prominent, sociologists are now studying several new and distinct demographics. Household dynamics for gay-men-only-headed households, lesbian-headed households, and all the mixes that come with children who began with a heterosexual union and then moved into a homosexual environment, will likely have distinct outcomes.

          Many pro-gay marriage advocates strive to study the more “pure” model where the children were raised exclusively within that home. But finding those children at random is difficult, and most of them have not reached adulthood. That is one reason why many studies on the subject must rely on volunteer populations for their research. One bisexual man raised by two women writes this:

          “Where do children of LGBT parents come from? If the parents are 100-percent gay or lesbian, then the chances are that the children were conceived through surrogacy or insemination, or else adopted. Those cases are such a tiny percentage of LGBT parents, however, that it would be virtually impossible to find more than a half-dozen in a random sampling of tens of thousands of adults.” http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/03/7912/

          The broad-based study “My daddy’s name is donor” examines outcomes for children who were conceived via artificial insemination, but doesn’t speak specifically to the same-gender headed household question. http://www.familyscholars.org/assets/Donor_summ_findings.pdf

      • On a side note, I have some trouble with your second-to-last sentence: that “If as a nation we are going to promote/institutionalize/incentivize a family structure, it should be one that at least has the hope of wholeness for a child.” I’m not sure we’ve ever done that as a nation, have we? Aside from removing children from abusive households, the laws of the state and nation have never sought to promote any particular family structure for the wholeness of a child. If we did, granting of a divorce would be settled on that basis. A heterosexual couple’s marriage is not allowed or disallowed on the basis of whether or not they would provide wholeness for children. Our nation’s laws about marriage don’t work that way, because I’m not sure we’ve ever legislated anything on the basis of the best family structure for a child. Have we? I wonder what the legal basis was for outlawing polygamy, come to think of it.

        The argument makes more sense if you’re talking about gay adoption, because all adoptive parents (as you know) have to go through rigorous processes to find out if they would be suitable parents. But to make the argument on the basis of family structure in general is tenuous – you’d have to start thinking of all marriages (gay and straight) in that way, and then it’s a pretty short road to legislating who gets to be a parent, period. Just a thought.

  3. Glad your admitting defeat – the funny thing is in ten to twenty years time the church will not remember how it was an obstacle to human rights and justice and the “Christian collective memory” will recall how they fought for the marginalized in our world – just like they remember the abolition of slavery and rights for black people. And askthebigot will sit with her grandchildren and agree how stupid and bigotted the older generation was.

    • What I will tell my grandkids:

      Hello lovelies. You are a blessing to me and your parents. Whatever finds you in this life, and whatever you choose in this life, grandma is going to be your biggest fan.

      Grandma loves her parents. But she longed for a mommy and daddy who loved each other. So when I met grandpa, we decided that we would die to any temptation or selfish desire that might bring the same sadness and brokenness to your mommy and daddy. It wasn’t easy, because we didn’t know what a good marriage looked like. And even though we didn’t do it perfectly, your mommy and daddy got what your grandpa and I did not have- a mommy and daddy who loved God and loved each other. Your parents got the wholeness of both of us being in their lives from birth to adulthood, and as a result, didn’t have to struggle in some of the ways grandpa and I did when we were kids.

      I know that this view isn’t popular now. Augustine, one of the fathers of the church also struggled with this reality. What he said is just as relevant now as when he spoke it in the fourth century:

      “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”

      • I don’t want to be rude, but I think you’re living in cloud cuckoo land. Honestly, you may ascribe things in your life that you don’t like to the unusual nature of your upbringing, but there are NO perfect parents out there. Your letter to your grandkids could easily be written by me about my heterosexual parents who stayed together because they believed it was the correct thing to do, and I know the same letter could easily be written by my mother about her parents for another set of reasons. I’m wondering if your whole problem here is that your are idealising something you never had. And when your children go through puberty and their 20s and start blaming you for everything they don’t like about their lives, and want to bring up their children filling in the gaps they feel YOU left, you might begin to understand what a waste of time this all is. Because in the end, for all the language of love you are attempting to use, all you are doing is feeding irrational discrimination based on ignorance, and encouraging hatred and fear of gay people.

        • I will be the first to admit that I am not the perfect parent. I know that there are areas where I have failed my children. Without a doubt, there will be gaps that they wish would have been filled. You are so right about that.

          I understand that the conclusions that I have come to do not align with your views on this issue. Along with my own opinions, I have shared with you the thoughts of two other educated, thoughtful adults who walked a similar road. Rather than take our words, clearly with no animus intended, at face value and use it as an opportunity to be thoughtful about the significant factors involved in this discussion, you have instead discredited those personal reflections and conclusions. You may hold your to opinions and we can disagree. But if you are looking honestly at this discussion, the data I’ve supplied, and those in this thread who are on the other side of this debate, “irrational discrimination,” “ignorance,” “hatred,” “fear of gay people” are not making an appearance.

      • Sorry, I forgot to reply to this thread. You said ““irrational discrimination,” “ignorance,” “hatred,” “fear of gay people” are not making an appearance.” The people commenting are reflecting your tone, but I’m sure many other people read your blog, or reference your blog from a skim read and chalk it up as another ‘black mark’ against homosexuals. This kind of work definitely feeds the irrational discrimination, ignorance, hatred and fear of gay people that is rife among Christians in America – the majority are not looking for the truth, they’re looking for reasons to back up the opinions they already hold.

        • I know that “the irrational discrimination, ignorance, hatred and fear of gay people that is rife among Christians in America” exists and certainly they get a lot of play in the media. But I don’t think that’s wholly representative (or even closely representative) of the Christians that I see. When I see something to that effect in-person, at some random coffee shop, or on the blogosphere I confront it. Many Christ-followers do the same.

  4. Tapman – in ten to twenty years time the church will remember how it remained silent on yet another crucial issue of the day (the first in recent history was abortion). I agree very much with Cordileone: the legalisation of ssm will not settle the issue. Instead, it will open up a further divide in Western societies throughout the globe as it sparks another long and drawn out culture war.

    The only positives that I see in redefining marriage as the gay lobbyists seek is that, in a couple of generations from now, natural marriage will be as hard fought for as is the pro life movement a generation out from the decriminalisation of abortion. It is unfortunate that many would need to suffer the consequences in the meantime.

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your blog is an absolutely wonderful resource. I teach a Christian high shcool, and the kids have thoughts about this subject. In the current climate, many think the right thing to do is the wrong thing. Thanks for this enlightening discussion.

  6. Duck and cover and spread the love of God. Matthew 24 is happening all around us. It’s not time for panic but to believe now more than ever and witness.

    • Hi Zanspence,

      Matthew 24 is the Olivet Discourse. Those signs will be readily visible after the rapture of the church, until then however, there are no signs recorded to occur before the rapture. So the”signs of the times” stuff we are readily supplied with on today’s best seller lists and shelves, are hog-wash, in my opinion :). Nothing going on today holds relevance to Christ’s 2nd Advent.

  7. Pingback: discussions on gay marriage | violetwisp

  8. “It is simply a natural fact that you need a man and a woman to make a marriage and that a child’s heart longs for the love of both his or her mother and father.”

    The first part of this statement seems like begging the question; it’s as if you’re starting your explanation of why gay marriage can’t exist by defining marriage as heterosexual. Or is there something in nature which tells us what a marriage is?

    I’m sure that every child would want to know love from both of his biological parents. But trying to turn this into an argument against gay marriage doesn’t work. It’s more likely to be an argument against adoption or divorce…and I’m sure that’s not where you were trying to go.

    • Thanks for your comments. “What is marriage?” is certainly the right starting question. And what is the state’s interest in incentivizing and promoting a relationship between two people? And while the state rightly permits people to make whatever decisions they like on a personal level (cohabitation, divorce, same-sex relationships) is there a benefit to the state when we promote the relationship that connects children to their parents?

      • If the state only promoted the relationship between children and their biological parents, that would be one thing. But adoption is seen as a positive thing, and it’s highly incentivized.

        The state’s interest in marriage is not about procreation, but about parenthood. Procreation is not regulated; parenthood is. Unless there’s evidence that having gay adoptive parents is less beneficial than having straight adoptive parents, then there’s no basis for state discrimination here.

        • That, physicsandwhiskey, is the million dollar question that rigorous social science hasn’t yet ruled on (other than so conclude that the in-tact mother-father family gives children the greatest advantages regarding health in most areas of life). Above I have responded to Violetwisp about the research that has been done in this area. The NFSS study does look at adoptions with heterosexual couples as one family model.

          I spoke about adoption in this post: https://askthebigot.com/2012/08/20/biology-matters/

          Thanks for chiming in on this thread!

          • I don’t see why we’re denying children the right to live in a legally recognized family just because one of their parents is gay. Sure, social science MIGHT someday reveal some startingly clear conclusion about how damaging being raised by two gay parents is….but you can’t base public policy on some hypothetical like that.

            Regardless of whether gay marriage is allowed, gay couples will continue to adopt children or parent the children they already have. Why would allowing those couples to marry hurt those children?

          • “…you can’t base public policy on some hypothetical like that.” I agree! And yet that is exactly what is happening now.

            “The social sciences are decades away from being able to say anything conclusive about gay parenting, Kass and Mansfield point out. The reason is simple: gay parenting only recently became a widespread and socially acceptable phenomenon. So researchers are only beginning to reach a point where they can gather large, random samples that might include enough same-sex parents that they can make reliable comparisons with heterosexual parents. If such data becomes available, researchers still need to wait until the children of gay parents grow up so they can compare their well-being, using measures such as incarceration, school drop-out, suicide and college graduation rates, to the children of heterosexual parents.” http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-supreme-court-gay-parenting-and-science-part-1-92858/#EwEU4JfHE9b7Ptdt.99

          • But doesn’t arbitrarily restricting gay parenthood prejudice the system against it?

            In what specific situations will allowing gay couples to marry have a potentially negative effect on a child?

          • If arbitrary means “random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system” that word would better be applied to those who advocate for same sex marriage. Reason would lead us to believe, even without the best social science at our back, that the conditions under which a child is conceived is likely the best condition for child rearing. And the near unanimity of human history which recognizes something that resembles man/woman marriage tells us that this arrangement speaks to something deeply human- not just the product of a random choice or personal whim.

            Again, in this country people are free to make choices about their personal behavior. And regardless of what they choose, Christians at least are called to serve them and invite them into our world.

            What harm is there? A man raised by two women had this to say to the French government as they deliberated on the issue of gay marriage:

            “I oppose this bill because in the name of a fight against inequalities and discrimination, we would refuse a child one of its most sacred rights, upon which a universal, millenia-old tradition rests, that of being raised by a father and a mother. You see, two rights collide: the right to a child for gays, and the right of a child to a mother and father. The international convention on the rights of the child stipulates in effect that “the highest interest of the child should be a primary consideration” (article 3, section 1). Here this ‘higher interest’ leaves no doubt.” But it is the wounded man who concludes: “If two women who raised me had been married prior to the adoption of such a bill, I would have jumped into the fray and would have brought a complaint before the French state and before the European Court of the rights of man, for the violation of my right to a mom and a dad.” “

            The negative effect is in calling “whole” that which is incomplete.

          • The higher interest of the child hey? For the rest of the world it looks more like Christians taking the higher moral ground. If you were genuinely interested in the welfare of the kids why are you making it harder for them. There are already 700,000 gay families in the US and the message the kids are hearing is that my Mums and Dads are not good enough – on top of societies negative views you want to add your own burdens on them. The higher interest for an orphaned child is to be raised in a loving family. A good Christian response would be to support that family non-judgementally and offer good role models and mentors for the children (if you feel so strongly that they need a male/female influence).

            You cited NFSS results – Statistics are only as reliable as the methodology used – this I can not comment on now but it is interesting to note who paid for the research and the fact that it was pushed through to be published in record time before it could be properlly reviewed. It wouldn’t surprise me if the results marginally favour heterosexual parents because they don’t have religious people on their backs telling them they are no good.

            Similar moral ground is taken on the abortion issue – don’t get me wrong – this issue disturbs and saddens me, but rather than taking a vocal high moral stand how about actually stretching our love muscles and doing positive stuff to help and encourage young females who are caught in difficult situations. Unwanted babies and backyard abortions is not a great answer either.

          • “A good Christian response would be to support that family non-judgementally and offer good role models and mentors for the children.” And we must “actually stretch our love muscles and doing positive stuff to help and encourage young females who are caught in difficult situations.” You are right. If we do not do this on an individual level, we are not living the gospel.

            Because the NFSS study didn’t produce popular results, it has been scrutinized and proved that the methodology was above reproach. You can’t dismiss it on grounds that it wasn’t conducted with integrity.

          • No one is disputing that the best condition for child rearing is by loving, married, biological parents.

            But for children who:

            1. Have been given up for adoption
            2. Only know one biological parent
            3. Went with one parent in a divorce or breakup that is not reconciliable
            4. Were conceived artificially

            being raised by both biological parents is not possible. For such children, isn’t it BETTER for them to be raised by married parents than by unmarried parents?

          • So in a situation like this:

            “When I met John, who is now my husband, he told me that he had had some friends, Tammy and Laura, for whom he had been a sperm donor, and that they had a son named Oliver, of whom he was the biological father. A few years later, they asked him to be a sperm donor again, and they produced a daughter, Lucy. A good friend of mine from college had gone through a divorce and said that she really longed to be a mother, and I said how much I would love to be the father of her child. And so we decided to produce a child through an IVF process. John and I then wanted to have a child who would live with us all the time, and we decided to use an egg donor, and Laura, the lesbian who had carried Oliver and Lucy, offered to be our surrogate as a way of thanking John for providing her with a family. So the shorthand is: five parents of four children in three states. http://m.npr.org/news/Books/163468489

            Your argument would be that since they already have children, we should institutionalize/endorse the situation for the sake of the children?

          • The thing is, as complicated as this may sound, it’s really no different from existing situations.

            “Hi, I’m Jane. When I first met Tom, I had one son named Sam, fathered by my high school boyfriend Jake. Tom was married to Erin, who had a daughter named Sarah from a previous marriage to Mack, but Mack and Erin were estranged so Tom raised Sarah as his own. Erin was pregnant when I met Tom. We had an affair and I got pregnant with a baby girl; Erin left Tom. Tom and I got married and are raising Sam and our daughter together; Sarah went to live with her grandparents. By a strange coincidence, Erin ended up meeting and falling in love with Jake; they raised Erin’s then-unborn child and ended up having a kid of their own. So the shorthand is: seven parents of five children in three states.”

            Is that optimal? Clearly not. But we shouldn’t say that Erin and Jake or Jane and Tom or the grandparents shouldn’t be married. In fact, the only way for those five kids to HAVE a family identity now is if those marriages take place (and hopefully last).

          • Thank you for the very fitting counter example. The difference is that Solomon’s “post-nuclear family” is what gay advocates and many social scientists would argue as the most “pure” for children within a gay marriage- if the parents’ relationship does not dissolve, the children will have been with their gay parents since birth. They are the “gold standard” for the gay parenting model.

            You have compared this with a heterosexual situation that much resembles the “lowest common denominator” for marriage. And rightly so, because the children in both situations will know brokenness and have some of their fundamental needs/rights go unmet.

            We agree that an ideal (father-mother raising biological children) does exist. Just because not every heterosexual marriage fits the ideal, is not justification for doing away with the standard. Rather, a social recognition of the standard and a personal striving for the standard benefits the whole of society. That is why there are many black pastors who advocate for maintaining the definition of man/woman marriage. They recognize that their communities desperately need to return to the narrative that there is an ideal for marriage and family, and that fathers especially are critical to childrearing.

            You seem to be saying “even though gay parenting is not ideal, let’s give it the same name so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings.” To me that sounds like saying “we recognize that our bodies do best when we eat whole foods, but we don’t want people who eat other things to feel bad about themselves so let’s rename McDonalds “Whole Foods.””

          • I think we would all agree that a change in custodial parents is not good for kids. So yes, a gay family in which the children are born with gay parents and grow up with gay parents is better than alternatives in which they live part of their lives with one family and part of their lives with another.

            We aren’t “doing away with” the standard. Heterosexual parents can still get married, whether they are the biological parents of the children in question or not. But now, gay parents can also be married.

            If I’m understanding your argument correctly, you’re saying something like this:

            A: If the social recognition of marriage as being procreative is undermined, there will be more children born out of wedlock.
            B: Allowing gay parents to marry undermines the social recognition of marriage as being procreative.
            Therefore, allowing gay parents to marry will mean more children are born out of wedlock.

            Is that a correct breakdown of your argument?

            And no, I’m not saying “so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings”. I’m saying gay parents should be able to marry so that their children will have married parents.

          • So now we have come full circle and have returned to the question “What is marriage?” Most will agree that historically marriage involves three elements which set it apart from other human relationships: (1) a comprehensive union; (2) a unique link to children; (3) norms of permanence and exclusivity.

            Clearly gay couples are more than capable of accomplishing 1 and 3. But you are proposing that we do away with the second element, yes?

          • A heterosexual couple too old or otherwise unable to procreate has no unique link to children.

            I’m not terribly concerned with the historical definition. I’m more concerned with ensuring that the children of gay couples get equal protection under the law.

          • What marriage ought to be and what marriage can be are very different things. Marriage can be nothing more than an arrangement of convenience or a social construct. Or it can be a lifelong union between equal partners whose relationship is both consensual and mutually rewarding.

          • I see. Let me be more specific with my question. In your opinion, if government is to play a role in marriage, could you give the criteria that government should use to determine who can marry?

          • The vast majority of relationships with more than two people are either unequal, unstable, or both. Close relations almost inevitably have a degree of exploitation involved. Neither option would be good for kids on a grand scale.

          • What do you mean by “unequal?”

            I agree that stability is exceptionally important to children (permanence and exclusivity begets stability and is one of the three criteria of what has historically been considered “marriage” for this very reason, as mentioned above.) So we should grant marriage licenses to the kind of relationships that statistically have the most stability and longevity- that is a very good idea. Which kind of relationships qualify for that distinction, statistically speaking?

            I haven’t seen data on whether or not “close relations” (which I’m not exactly sure what you mean by that yet, so by all means define here so we are working from the same frame of reference) are more prone to exploitation. But I think it’s a good idea to make sure that marriage doesn’t promote exploitation. So what do you mean by “exploitation”? And if there are two who are closely related but not in an exploitative relationship, why bar them from participating in marriage? What if they already have children together? What if that’s the only way that they can be a “family?” Shouldn’t we let them get married for the sake of the kids?

          • The typical, historical polygamist union was one man essentially owning multiple women. That unequal sort of arrangement is not the sort of thing the government should encourage.

            I’d agree that some semblance of a statistical approach is probably ideal when evaluating which relationships are likely to be stable enough to provide a good family environment. I don’t have the statistics in front of me comparing the longevity of gay cohabiting couples with straight married couples. But a good rule of thumb would be that in the absence of contrary evidence, any major group seriously agitating for marriage rights probably has enough commitment to the cause to provide stable families.

            If you insisted on a purely statistical approach, we’d have to make sure we ruled out confounding variables. A good test would be the longevity of co-adopting gay couples compared to previously childless co-adopting straight couples. How does that sound?

            Sexual relationships arising within a single immediate family have typically been exploitative because of the existing family dynamic; a parent or an older sibling taking advantage of a younger, vulnerable member. Since that’s been the rule, there’s really not a compelling interest to make that legal. Plus, allowing heterosexual incest marriage would encourage incestuous procreation, something the state obviously wants to discourage.

          • Whiskey, first I want to thank you for your time and sheer brainpower. You have given me a lot to think about. Clearly if we as a society are considering changing the definition of marriage, a foundational building block for the individual and society, the discussion deserves this kind of attention and thoughtful processing.

            I haven’t done much research on polygamy or incest, whether or not those relationships are “exploitive,” but you seem to think that the state should not “encourage” those relationships. Polygamy and incest may have some drawbacks, but at least the child will likely be living with both biological parents and have the benefit of the input of both genders. I don’t know how to quantify “exploitation” but you mentioned abuse as a factor within incestuous relationships. I would think that incidence of domestic abuse would be helpful here? Because if those relationships (polygamous) are less abusive than gay relationships then they should be in line ahead of gays and lesbians for inclusion in marriage since there would be less brokenness for the child. Do you agree? And do you have some resources on this that might help show why gay and lesbians, statistically speaking, deserve to be included in marriage and not the polygamists?

            You recognize that the single-gender-headed household is not the ideal for children but had previously argued that those children would benefit from having their parent’s union recognized by the government. I would think If gay marriage were to law of the land, why couldn’t polygamists, or a brother and sister with a child together not make the same argument? What would you say to them? And what would you say to the two brothers who would like to be married when ‘in-breeding’ wouldn’t be a factor? There seems to be some inconsistencies in your argument.

            Back to gay marriage. The areas where we are in agreement:

            1. The State’s interest in marriage is in promoting unions that benefit children
            2. Married fathers and mothers offer the ideal conditions for childrearing
            3. Stability of the parental relationship benefits children

            Since we have stepped away from a biological approach to this discussion (one man + one woman = baby, therefore we should encourage that union) and we are wading into subjective waters, I think you are right that we must now approach this statistically.

            Since we would be “encouraging” a union that deprives the child of a biological connection with at least one parent, and the benefit of both genders for life, we certainly want to ensure that the union is as stable or more stable than those married father/mother households. And despite your statement that “any major group seriously agitating for marriage rights probably has enough commitment to the cause to provide stable families,” I think that we should examine that “major group” to ensure that stability will be present, especially in light of the loss that the child will have to face because of the parent’s union. (By the way, what do you mean by “major group” because there are several groups advocating for polyamory and polygamy. If they are a “major group” do they get marriage rights just because of their large number?”)

            Relational stability seems to have two components- permanence and exclusivity. Can you bring me a credible study that compares the longevity and exclusivity of gay and lesbian relationships compared to heterosexual couples? Also, comparing incidence of abuse within these two relational models would be helpful.

          • I’m glad we’ve been able to dialogue at length about this issue; it’s good to figure out exactly where our differences lie. For the record, I used to have the exact same stance as you, so I certainly sympathize with your view and want to treat it as objectively as possible.

            One quick note about “changing the definition of marriage”….I’d like to point out (if I haven’t already) that the definition of marriage has already been changed quite a few times. Marriage (as the foundational building block for the family, individual, and society) used to mean “the arrangement whereby one or more daughters are transferred from the ownership of their father to the ownership of a landed neighbor or relative in exchange for a bride price.” We’ve redefined marriage quite a few times since then: making polygamy illegal, giving men and women equal rights in the marriage, making incest illegal, and so forth. Removing the heterosexual restriction is just another step in adjusting the definition of marriage to make it an even more beneficial part of society.

            When I said that polygamous and incestuous relationships are exploitative, I wasn’t talking about domestic violence. Polygamous relationships are exploitative because they involve one man essentially owning several women (laying aside, for the moment, the rare scenario of actual group marriage); it should be obvious that polygynous families reinforce an extreme male-headship stereotype that will negatively affect the way the children view gender roles.

            Incestuous relationships are exploitative because they originate within existing family dynamics. A parent or an older sibling who enters into a sexual relationship with a child or younger sibling is abusing their existing position of power. The integrity of the family depends on trust and support; normalizing sexual exploitation of family trust (even if there’s no clear power imbalance) would weaken the integrity of the family and have negative effects on society at large.

            In both of these cases, the negative effects of legally recognizing the relationship far outweighs any positive benefits the married status could have for the children.

            In the list of areas we agree on, I’d add a caveat to point 2. Married *biological* fathers and mothers *often* offer the ideal conditions for childrearing. I’m not convinced that heterosexual parents are better parents absent the biological factor. Moreover, there are plenty of instances where staying with the biological parents is NOT ideal for the child.

            You assert that a homosexual union “deprives the child of a biological connection with at least one parent”. I don’t agree. In what case would allowing gay parents to marry deprive a child of a connection to a biological parent that the child would have otherwise had?

            As I pointed out before, a statistical comparison of homosexual couples to heterosexual couples needs to be carefully designed to eliminate confounding variables. Ideally, the study would compare outcomes for legally adopted children whose parents (gay or straight) didn’t have any biological children. Here’s such a study:

            http://www.meerdangewenst.nl/documenten/Mellish-Report.pdf

            This study compares 130 families with children aged 3-9 who had been adopted more than twelve months prior. A third of the families had gay parents, a third had lesbian parents, and a third had heterosexual parents. All were either married or in committed relationships.

            The study found more similarities than differences; the minor differences found actually favored gay adoptive parents over lesbian or heterosexual adoptive parents.

          • Whatever changes have been made to the definition of marriage have brought us closer to reflecting the biological reality of what makes a beneficial family for a child. Dropping the gender requirement in marriage would take the definition of marriage farther from that biological reality, not closer to it.

            Above you say “Married *biological* fathers and mothers *often* offer the ideal conditions for childrearing.”

            On the thread after my post “You’re only against gay marriage because of your religion- part 4” you wrote: “Obviously, children thrive most when their custodial parents are also their biological parents. That’s not disputed.”

            Above you say: “it should be obvious that polygamous families reinforce an extreme male-headship stereotype that will negatively affect the way the children view gender roles.” And how will same-sex marriage and parenting positively affect the way children view gender roles? The absence of one gender would be at least as, if not more, detrimental to children’s view of, and interaction, with gender, would it not?

            Regarding incestuous relationships, who are you to judge the love and commitment of someone else’s relationship? Shouldn’t the only issue be that everyone involved are consenting adults? That’s the criteria that gay marriage advocates use, and exactly the argument that polygamists use as well. Here is what one Australian polygamous group has to say on the issue:

            “PAL contends there is no rational reason adults should not be able to form committed relationships with more than one person. “Polyamory often isn’t a choice; if people love more than one person, they can’t help it,” says its manifesto. “We’re sick of being treated like the bottom of a slippery slope, the fat end of the wedge and the scary inevitable consequence of legalizing same-sex marriage,”… As far as the law is concerned, PAL says that the government must not restrict relationships for consenting adults based on love and respect. “The legal, health and financial protections enjoyed by a spouse in a monogamous relationship must be extended to all partners in a family. A family should be about security, stability and love; not about its structure.”” http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/taking_same_sex_marriage_step_by_step

            You still haven’t made the case about how gay marriage would “benefit” society in any way that a polygamist could not also use to support their form of family. Rather, your reasoning has been almost entirely subjective- based on your own personal value judgments.

            The reality is, once you step away from the current definition of marriage, there will be no legal way to bar polygamists, sisters, etc, from claiming that they have a right to marry. We will have legally eliminated the only objective and rational basis (a fundamental and universal biological fact of humanity- procreation) for limiting the marriage relationship in number of participants and types of unions. Since the definition of marriage no longer involves “a unique link to children,” any group of consenting (at least for now) adults will be able to build a successful case for their group to marry.

            To support your claim about there being little difference in outcomes for children reared under gay parents, you cite a short-term study based 120 couples in which the participants were recruited. (Not exactly an assurance of objectivity, right?) Please bring a rigorous study with participants derived from random samples, using large representative groups, and adequate control measures and then we can discuss a statistical case.

            What it looks like from my standpoint is that you like gay people and feel personally comfortable with them. Me too. You probably have desire to support the gay people in your life in a meaningful way. Me too. But you do not have (because they do not yet exist) rigorous, repeated, random-sample-based studies on long-term child outcomes for these various family arrangements. At this point you have your opinion and emotion. But those opinions, unsupported by good social science, should not be enough of a factor to redefine marriage, at least in terms of proving that another family structure is as good for children as the married mother/father model. If the state’s interest is genuinely to promote an environment that is ideal for childrearing, shouldn’t we wait until there is a solid body of research that would support that claim?

            I suggest that we love those in our life who are gay without re-writing the narrative about what is best for children, and without legally “encouraging” a relationship that would deprive them of a mother or father.

          • Biologically, a man is capable of fathering children with multiple wives at the same time. He is also typically physically stronger and thus better able to serve as the head of a family. Why, then, would the “biological reality” of what makes a beneficial family *not* be polygynous polygamy?

            My statement that “children thrive most when their custodial parents are also their biological parents” was produced with the implicit assumption that the parents actually have custody; i.e., that they are fit to be the custodial guardians. There are obviously plenty of cases where biological parents are NOT fit to be custodial parents.

            I gave a clear reason why polygyny produces a negative impression of gender roles. If you think same-sex parenting will produce a negative impression of gender roles, you’re free to explain why and give examples. Single-parent households also have the absence of one gender. There’s no reason to think that same-sex parents wouldn’t want their children to have socialization with both genders….in fact, they’d likely be more proactive about it.

            I’m not interested in judging the love and commitment of incestuous relationships. Far from it. No, the problem with incestuous relationships goes right back to the criteria you cited: consent. A preexisting family relationship calls consent into question by introducing a power dynamic that can easily be manipulated and abused.

            The state’s primary interest in not allowing incestuous marriage is that near-relation procreation should be discouraged. It doesn’t make sense to introduce an exception for infertile or same-sex incest when those are almost inevitably questionable in terms of consent.

            The benefit to society is that kids get to live in a legally-recognized family who wouldn’t otherwise be permitted to do so. In the instance of polygamy and incest, the negative effects on children and society outweigh those potentially positive effects.

            You keep talking about depriving children of a mother or father, but I’m not sure what you’re referencing. In what instances would allowing gay marriage cause a child to lose one parent?

          • “Biologically, a man is capable of fathering children with multiple wives at the same time.” You and I have agreed that the State’s interest in marriage is one that benefits children. If every child has one mother and one father, it is that biological framework that should shape this discussion.

            “There are obviously plenty of cases where biological parents are NOT fit to be custodial parents.” Of course, just like there are single, homosexual, and polygamous parents who are not fit to be custodial parents. But let’s stay on track and discuss overarching characteristics of these distinct demographics.

            Your reasoning for why same-sex parenting wouldn’t be as harmful as polygamous marriages in terms of how children understand gender roles is based on your subjective opinion – again unsubstantiated by good research. I cannot argue with your subjective opinions, because there is no reasonable/objective criteria within which this discussion can continue. And every child needs many good adult role models, even if they have an in-tact mother/father home. But “role models” are not substitutes for parents.

            You say that “A preexisting family relationship calls consent into question by introducing a power dynamic that can easily be manipulated and abused” and for that reason the possibility of exploitation would rule out the “benefits” that could be extended to children within an incestuous relationship. Again, this is your subjective conclusion that would not hold up within a legal argument.

            “The benefit to society is that kids get to live in a legally-recognized family who wouldn’t otherwise be permitted to do so. In the instance of polygamy and incest, the negative effects on children and society outweigh those potentially positive effects.” A subjective value judgment on how much “weight” to give various forms of loss to the child.

            “You keep talking about depriving children of a mother or father, but I’m not sure what you’re referencing. In what instances would allowing gay marriage cause a child to lose one parent?” Give me an example of a gay marriage where the children within that union have not had to “lose” a full relationship with one of their biological parents.

            Whiskey, thank you again for this conversation. It has been a beneficial exercise for me in working through objections to man/woman marriage. I especially appreciate that you have chosen to attack the argument and not people- not an easy line to walk in a discussion on this topic.

            However, I don’t think that there is anywhere else for this conversation to go because we have been wading in arbitrary waters for some time now and the nature of this kind of subjectivity doesn’t lend itself to a linear discussion. We cannot come to a conclusion because we have thrown out the only objective standard that could frame this discussion- the biological reality that if marriage is a child-centered institution (because that is the state’s interest), and if a child has one mother and one father, then that structure should be “encouraged” by the state.

            I invite you to have the final word here, and greatly appreciate your willingness to process through this topic with me. All the best to you, friend.

  9. “This is because of the truth: Abortion is the killing of an innocent human life. That is not a matter of opinion or religious belief; it is a simple fact that cannot be denied.”

    Dead wrong. We know with a great deal of certainty what death is: when EEG readings drop to zero. Until something can “die” it cannot be considered “alive.” To argue against this is absurd. Only after week 25 of a pregnancy does a fetus’ brain activity maintain a regular pattern. Only after week 25 can it “die,” which just so happens to be the point when abortions become illegal by law.

    • There are 3 natural states: life (plant, bee), non-life (rock, water) and dead (dead leaf, dead bee) which makes a process of elimination feasible. A zygote is the result of two forms of life (sperm, ovum). Thus a zygote is clearly not non-life. Is the zygote dead? No, because it exhibits GRIMNER [http://quizlet.com/13974968/biology-flash-cards/] and natural development. The zygote can die if the energy source ends (mother dies). Thus the zygote is life (or alive) as it can die and has been produced by life. But is it human? Yes, as it is produced only from human DNA stores (sperm, ovum). Thus the zygote is a human life.

  10. It will dissolve unless there are theist bigots that want to continue to deprive others of the pursuit of happiness based on their own need to have government that represents only their belief and their doctrine codified into law. Right now we hear all the lame excuses: Christian nation, one man one woman is the biblical way, god’s law, natural law, bad for kids and yet there is not one shred of credible evidence that any of these are true. If there was evidence all these commenters would be busy sharing links to it. Where is the evidence for the claims? Why hasn’t it been made common knowledge already, like that for gravity, 2+2=4 among other things. I would suggest that this is because there is no evidence for these claims other than evidence that they are false.

    • Hi Myahteistlife,

      Thanks for joining the discussion. I quick scan of the comments here don’t indicate that those who support man/woman marriage (in this thread anyway) are doing so based on “Christian nation, one man one woman is the biblical way, god’s law.” I don’t even see “bad for kids” per se, but certainly loss for kids is the primary principle for why I argue against legalizing gay marriage. Please see the several links posted in response to Violetwisp.

      Thanks again for your comments!

  11. Marriage is a sacred institution, the most ancient in all cultures. The bar has been high until the last 50 years in the West. The bar was lowered when fornication and adultery became the norm. The consequences are that people like me had their hearts crushed by immoral, selfish parents. The total lack of commitment to marriage and family by Baby Boomers has hurt an entire generation. Now the common response is either: (a) why get married, it only leads to pain – you don’t need a marriage certificate to pledge commitment (but this lie has only resulted in more fornication, abortion, out-of-wedlock children being born, pain, confusion, children being neglected as single parents try to make ends meet, children raising themselves, high prison population, etc.); or (b) total commitment to do it right (no divorce, take seriously the marriage vows, take seriously family, etc.). The first response is the most common response, and the result is more brokenness and a downward spiral. The other side is totally swimming against the current and being labeled. Watch where this goes in the next 50 years, when sin and approval of sin becomes the new normal our culture will implode.

  12. I really enjoyed reading this post and the resultant “dialogue”! The comments, by and large, have been educated, thoughtful and respectful. This in and of itself is becoming rare in this day and age (particularly on-line) as we seek to demonize the other side in place of reasoned argument. Excellent points were made on both sides. Also, thanks to Chazing for an excellent defense of life at conception….a great way to explain what is already known!

    • I do appreciate how many thoughtful, respectful commentors I have on this blog. I learn a lot from them, those I agree with and those with whom I disagree. As I say somewhere in my intro pages, this discussion deserves more than the “bumper sticker” jabs that both sides can lob into the debate.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, Tisha.

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