So, wait. Defense of marriage is a life issue?

As I mentioned in my post on gender from the other day, I have a dear friend from childhood who is, now, a professor of queer studies.   Over the years we’ve managed to build a deep mutual respect despite our deep differences.  That respect has enabled us to have some frighteningly direct conversations with each other.

This past weekend we had the opportunity to spend a fair amount of time together as he was in town visiting family.  He surprised me by bringing up the topic of marriage equality (I’m usually the one who can’t help himself).

After listening to–and largely agreeing with– some of his points about the dignity of the homosexual person, I had the opportunity to share that my opposition to gay marriage had nothing to do with homosexuality. Of course he thought I was trying to play him.  I assured him that I was sincere.   I explained that the point of marriage is to create a social institution that protects children’s rights to know and be provided for by their natural mother and father.  Children born in any other arrangement (cohabitation, surrogacy, donor-conception) do not have any right to find their natural parents (especially if their natural parent’s don’t wish to be found) much less be provided for by them.  That leads to two problems.

First, saying that gay marriage is “equal” to marriage is the same as saying that children raised in households with only one parent or any two parents is, in fact, “equal” to the experience of children raised by a mother and a father and that it is wrong to even suggest that children raised by their natural mother and father have any advantage over children raised in any other context.  Children raised by single parents, or grandparents, or divorced parents or adoptive parents can grow up to be “just fine”, but we recognize that they have had to struggle at least a bit more than their counterparts raised in homes with their natural mother and father because they are missing something; because those home arrangements are not equal to those homes in which a child is being raised by his natural mother and father.   Saying that gay marriage is “equal” to traditional marriage means that a same-sex couple can provide everything that a mother and a father can provide, and that as long as a child has at least two caregivers of one sort or another, that child has no right to feel sad the absence of a natural mother or a father. Currently, there is no other context in which we think it is appropriate to tell a child that he shouldn’t feel sad about not having a connection to his natural mother and father.  Gay marriage would change that.  To say, “you must not feel anything about the absence of the parent we could not provide you with because, after all, we are equal” would be a serious injustice against a child and do violence to the child’s emotional and psychological well-being.

Second, to say that a same-sex couple’s relationship is the same as (literally “equal to”) a marriage between a man and a woman is to say that both couples must have the same rights to try to have children.  Of course, that means that more and more same-sex couples would feel obliged to turn to artificial reproduction so that they could be truly “equal” to straight families.    There is just no way to support gay “marriage” without also supporting the massive expansion of IVF, donor conception, surrogacy and other forms of immoral, assisted reproduction technologies which, in turn, leads to countless more children who would be denied the right to know or be provided for by their natural parents.

It was at that point that my friend, who really does try to be a sincere and faithful Catholic despite his struggles on these issues, had a lightbulb moment.

“So, wait.  You’re saying, that you see this as a life issue?”

I admitted that, yes, I do.

And a remarkable thing happened.  He looked at me, blinked, and said, “Well, you got me there.”  It honestly hadn’t occurred to him before.  Especially as a pro-life Catholic, this argument really stung him.

I don’t pretend that I “won” anything.  I really wasn’t in it to “win.”   I also know that we are still miles apart on a lot of the fundamentals in this debate, but what happened in that moment was both honest and more than a little miraculous, and I wonder if taking this approach wouldn’t be a lot more effective on the whole than much of the other ways people attempt to discuss this issue.

Mandated Infertility “Treatment” for Homosexual Couples

I have to admit that even I didn’t see this coming.  As you read this, try to remember that homosexual couples aren’t infertile.  It is simply physically impossible for them to procreate.  But if gay marriage is, in fact, equal to marriage, then this is the kind of thing that no one will be able to stop.

Should health insurers be legally required to offer infertility treatment for gay couples? Yes, according to a bill (AB 460) filed in the California legislature by assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco). In fact, refusing to do so should be a crime.

Current California law requires group health plans to offer coverage for infertility treatments with the exception of in vitro fertilization (IVF). If such coverage is purchased, benefits must be paid whenever “a demonstrated condition recognized by a licensed physician and surgeon as a cause for infertility” has been diagnosed—or upon “the inability to conceive a pregnancy or to carry a pregnancy to a live birth after a year of regular sexual relations without contraception.” Thus, under current law, diagnosis of a physical reason for the inability to conceive or sire a child is not required. It is enough that a couple tried to get pregnant for a year and failed.

According to the fact sheet supporting AB 460, the trouble is that some insurance companies “are not complying with current law that prohibits discrimination” based on sexual orientation. Instead, they are denying infertility treatment benefits “based on [the policy holder’s] not having an opposite sex married partner in which to have one year of regular sexual relations without conception.” AB 460 would amend the law to add the following language:

Coverage for the treatment of infertility shall be offered and provided without discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, domestic partner status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.    MORE

So, the next time someone asks you how gay marriage will actually change anything, show them this.

The Erroneous Infertility/Post-Menopausal Argument

CNN reports that in today’s session, Justice Kagan and the attorneys for Prop 8 had the following exchange.

“Mr. Cooper, suppose a state said that, because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55,” Kagan asked. “Would that be constitutional?”

“No, your honor, it would not be constitutional,” Cooper answered.

I’m so frustrated by Cooper’s answer (assuming CNN reported this in full).  Why is this SO difficult to understand?  Of course the restriction would be unconstituional…because it is irrelevant.  We can allow infertile and post-menopausal couples to marry because allowing them to do so does not make saying that “a child has a right to a mother and father” discriminatory.   If such a couple were to adopt, for example, that child would still have a mother and a father.

As soon as you claim that homosexual marriage is equivalent to marriage, then you must agree that both kinds of couples are capable of giving the same benefits to any  child they might have.    If you agree with that, then it immediately becomes discriminatory to say that the child actually receives something different from a mother and a father.  It is discriminatory, because a homosexual couple cannot give a child a mother and a father and to say that a child needs a mother and a father is to say that a homosexual couple is somehow less than a heterosexual couple.  You can’t simultaneously say that that two things are the sameanddifferent.

The problem is that all the data shows that children receive important benefits from mothers and fathers and that the absence of one or the other has consequences.  That is not the same as saying that gay people are automatically bad parents or that children raised by gay people are doomed to be axe murderers.  BUT that is to say that if the best homosexual parents are compared to the best heterosexual parents the children of the heterosexual parents will be receiving benefits the children of homosexual parents can never have.  That is unjust.  It is unjust to give a child the chance to have everything but.  Children deserve to have the right to everything society can give them to achieve their full potential.

“Dear Dr. Greg, Don’t be a bigot.” Letter from a Child of a Gay Father.

The other day, I received an email from a young woman who read my post titled, Gay Marriage: Getting the Conversation Right.  Her parents divorced when her dad came out and she wanted me to know that they were all in a good place with it–and why couldn’t I be?  I have removed any identifying details, but I thought I would share our exchange as a way of illustrating the real challenge at the heart of gay marriage and why standing for traditional marriage is not anti-gay, but rather, pro-child.

Dr. Greg,

I know you don’t know me but I saw some things you had posted on gay marriage. My mom and dad divorced when my dad came out as gay.  I love my dad and we have a great relationship.  I’m really proud of him and I think he is very brave especially because he has to face bigoted people like you every day. I’m the oldest but I know my brother and sister feel the same.

First of all you need to open your eyes and realize that you are living in the 21st century and you need to get over the fact that there is all kinds of diversity in this world. people of different ethnicities, people of different beliefs, and people of different sexual orientation. do you have a strong dislike towards someone for the mere fact that their skin color isnt the same as yours or they arent a part of the same religion you are? probably not. so why on earth would you have a dislike towards a man who prefers other men or a woman who prefers other women? it makes absolutely no sense other than the simple fact it makes you uncomfortable. let me clue you into reality: MANY THINGS IN LIFE WILL MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE, but there is nothing you can do about it. giving speeches makes me uncomfortable but i still have to do it.

Blacks are freed from slavery, women can vote, so why can’t gays have rights? they are the same as you and me- they are human beings. believe it or not, i am more than PROUD of my father for coming out to us. i have actually grown closer to him and we have a better relationship now. I can’t wait until the day he falls in love with a man and i get to be at their wedding, admiring the amazing father and person he is and has become.

the things you have said about gays, while they may be what you believe, they are out dated. go ahead and preach what you feel, but I am telling you now- you will be hearing from people about it. I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church going to catholic school until i was going into 7th grade, yet I still hold no judgement against my father.

I’m not entirely sure if you are one of those people who believe homosexuality is a disease, but if you do try calling into work saying “sorry i can’t come in today, i’m queer.” yeah, i bet you won’t get very far. in my sorority there are about 50 girls counting myself, and of those girls 40 of them have gay relatives. open your eyes and accept people for who they are. while i don’t expect a response from you, i hope you at least read this.

i’m going to leave you by saying this: If Michelangelo had been straight, the Sistine Chapel would have been wallpapered.

(In closing, she attached a lovely picture of herself, her sibs, her mom, her dad and his new partner)



And here is my response….


Dear ______________

Thank you for taking the time to write me.   You are clearly an articulate and strong young woman. I have no doubt your parents are quite proud of you and that you are a credit to both of them.

I’m really not sure what things you think I’ve said about gay people. If you read my post on Gettting the Conversation Right about gay marriage, you know it has little to do with homosexuality and everything to do with the rights of children.  I can tell you that I have never said anything–or even believe anything–even remotely similar to anything you describe. If you would care to point out what you feel are my offensive statements, I would be more than happy to–privately or publicly–clarify or apologize for anything that is legitimately ignorant, bigoted or prejudiced. If you knew me, which you admit you don’t, you would know that I take a very dim view toward so-called “Christians” who define themselves by those they unjustly hate more than by the loving God they serve.

Thank you for sending your family picture.  You look like you all love each other very much. I think that’s wonderful and exactly as it should be. I also think it’s wonderful that you love your dad both for who he is and for the fact that your relationship has improved in recent years. From your letter, it sounds like there was a time when that was less true and I’m glad things have gotten better for you.  At the same time, as you suggest in your message to me, it took an awful lot of work for you to get there. You guys have obviously been through quite a lot. You should be proud that you’ve all come though as well as you have. That’s taken a lot of courage and love and strength.

That said, I am a family therapist who works with many divorced families. One of things that both my experience and all the data on children-of-divorce shows is that divorce tends to cause kids to become “parentified.”  That means that–more than young people raised in intact families–children of divorce (especially eldest children-of-divorce like yourself) tend to be too good at taking care of other people and not quite so good at letting other people take care of them. The child-of-divorce occupying your position (eldest)in the family often ends up being compelled, by circumstances, to try to hold the family together, take more care of their younger siblings than they should have to, and even take care of and defend mom and dad–both against each other’s anger as well as any critics outside the family.

Mid-divorce and post-divorce, as dad tries to figure out who the heck he is and mom is reeling from trying to sort out which end is up, the kids have to emotionally fend for themselves a whole lot more than they should ever have to. Usually, one of the kids ends up taking on the role of quasi-parent to both their siblings and even to the parents who just aren’t up to the emotional task of being there for their kids the way they ought to be. The fact that you took it upon yourself to write to me–some guy you don’t know, will probably never meet, and whom really you shouldn’t care two figs about–to defend your dad says a whole lot about both your big heart AND your degree of parentification. Your mom and dad should be defending you, not you defending them. You have your own life to live and you shouldn’t have to try to build your own future while constantly looking back over your shoulder to see if mom and dad still need your help. They’re grown-ups. Let them fight their own battles.

I know you’ll say that they didn’t put you up to writing me. I know that. I have every confidence that you reached out to me completely on your own. As I say, it is clear that you are a strong young woman with a big heart. And even though I know all of this is true, it is utterly besides the point. The mere fact that you felt compelled to write me–a total stranger– to defend him without any prompting from them is exactly what I’m talking about. Children have a right to be raised in an environment where they feel taken care of, not where they feel forced by their parents’ emotional immaturity to have to take care of themselves, or their siblings, and especially not their parents. You were deprived of that right in your home. You have borne up well under the challenges your family has faced. You are strong, but to be honest, circumstances have forced you to be stronger than you should have to be. I’m sorry for that.

See, what I’m really saying is that I don’t have any issues with your dad being gay. But I do think that marriage ought to be an institution that guarantees kids the right to be able to count on their moms and dads. I do have huge issues with your dad–or any man for that matter–making promises to someone, having children with that someone, and then failing to follow through on those promises so that they, themselves, can pursue what they have finally gotten around to deciding what makes them happy “now.” Parents owe kids better than that. Kids don’t ask to be born. Parents make them. That implies the promise, “I will always be RIGHT HERE. No matter what. You can count on me.” Not, “I’ll be here until I figure out what really makes me happy,” or “You can count on me until someone I want to sleep with more than your mom comes along.” I happen to think parents need to work that stuff out before they make promises to children by having children. You deserved an intact family, and nothing and no one had the right to rob that from you.

From your comments and the pic you sent, it looks like you guys have done an admirable job cobbling something good together after the divorce. That took guts, and good for all of you. I’m glad it’s better than it was, but that doesn’t make what you had to go through right. It just means that mom and dad couldn’t get it together enough to give you and your siblings what you deserved–what you were promised– from the get-go and so, you had to work a whole lot harder to try to get the love and happiness that was owed to you just for being born. I think you–and all kids–deserve better than that.

I do thank you for your concern for my ability to get along with a people who are different than me. You are absolutely right about the importance of that. I can assure you I am perfectly comfortable around all types of people; GLBT, straight, Christian, non-Christian, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, whatever. In fact, come to think of it, I am the proud father of an inter-racial family (although it seems weird to write that because it doesn’t often occur to me that we are. Nevertheless….) In my mind, people are just people. We’re all just trying to do our best. We’re all God’s children, and I am not threatened or uncomfortable around anyone.

But you know, it is possible to hold different opinions from someone without hating them. That’s something that can be hard to understand, but it’s true. Perhaps you and I have different opinions about things. That fact does not make me less than you, more ignorant than you, or more of a “hater” than you. Since you don’t know anything about me, it is rather presumptuous and, frankly, prejudiced, of you to suggest that is not the case with me–although I am sure you did so unconsciously and unintentionally. Still, you should be aware of your own tendencies to act out in unjustified prejudice–especially if you are going to make a hobby out of pointing out what you think to be prejudice in others.

Likewise, the truth is that while everyone is entitled to their own opinions, not every opinion is as well-informed by reason and healthy thinking as another. It’s really important to learn to evaluate the strength of an argument or an opinion based on its logic and reason, and the effects that opinion will have on other people, and not by mere sentimentality and emotion, which can often lead people to justify a whole host of unjustifiable things, including inflicting the pain on others which we, ourselves, have endured and overcome, but should have, by all rights, been spared.

Let me conclude by saying you are clearly a remarkable young woman. Good for you for speaking your mind. I truly wish you and your family all the best.



What is parenthood?

One dimension of the debate about what homsexual unions should be called is “What is parenthood?”  What are parents?  What is their function, exactly?  Who are the “best” parents and is there even such a thing?

Family Scholars Blog is having an interesting discussion of that question.  The best contribtution IMO is by Laura Rosenbury, a Law Professor at Washington University in St Louis.  In sum, she says that the question, “What is parenthood?” is the wrong one.   Instead, we should be asking, “What is childhood?”  In other words, what do children need from us, not what do we want to give them.  It’s tought provoking stuff and I encourage you to read it.

My own reaction to Prof. Rosenbury’s piece is…

YES! ABSOLUTELY!   The biggest issue I have with the “new” conversation on marriage is that I do not see anyone in the new conversation speaking for the children. In the rush to help adults get along with each other and see that adults “rights” (i.e., desires) are protected, no one is asking these essential questions that Rosenbury has presented. The fact that there isn’t a ready answer to Diane M’s (one of the commenter’s) question, “What does this mean, practically?” is just evidence of my point. How dare we make changes in the only institution intended to protect the rights of children (and this applies to divorce law as well as homosexual unions) without really giving children’s voices a major seat at the table.

What does this mean practically? I don’t know either. Does it mean that, in divorce cases, children should be assigned an attorney (paid for at their parents’ expense) who represents their needs? Does it mean that there should be a methodological review board made up of people of varying opinions that judge–not the findings–but the strength of the methodology of various studies used by both sides to support their arguments?

I think most honest people on either side of this issue would agree that research and facts are really not driving this debate. Opinion and sentimentality are. I find that fact deeply distrubing because I have a tremendous heart for children. When I was a kid, the big experiment was “new math.” The result of this experiment was that my generation displayed the worst math and science scores ever. The new conversation is just the new math applied to family life and the ones who will pay the price are the children.

Regardless of the side you fall on, we all owe it to children to commit ourselves to asking the hard question, what is genuinely BEST for children. Not, “what can they get by with?” or “what’s good enough?” The question must be, “What is best?” That is what must define the terms of the conversation because children deserve our best. We can make exceptions from there, but the exceptions prove the rule, not the other way around.

We can say, for example, “breast is best” because we know the research supports that. At the same time, we make allowances for bottle feeding,because some kind of nutrition is better than nothing, but we do not say that bottle is best or even as good as breast milk because we know it is not true. In the same way, we ought to be able to say that a two-parent, heterosexual, married family is best for children because all the data shows that is true. We can make exceptions for other family forms because life requires it of us, but we should not be pressured to say or forced to pretend that alternative family forms are as good as traditional, heterosexual married households. It is simply not true and to say otherwise is politics, sentiment and folly, not fact. Our children deserve better than that.

Once we settle the “what is best for children?” question, exceptions can be made from there, but the bar cannot be lowered to meet the exception and it is irresponsible to try.

Kids’ Needs Don’t Matter in “New Conversation” on Marriage

“New Conversation on Marriage” Forbiding kids to mourn missing mom or dad?

(Why can infertile couples marry but homosexual couples can’t? Because infertility doesn’t redefine the natural rights of children.)

David Blankenhorn, the founder and director of the Institute for American Values is spearheading a so-called “new” conversation about marriage wherein marriage is allegedly strengthened by redefining it into oblivion.

On David’s Family Scholars Blog, Barry Deutsch, political cartoonist and longtime veteran of the war on marriage, admiringly posts the SCOTUS brief filed by attorneys Ted Olsen (former US Solicitor Gen under George W.) and David Boise in opposition to Prop 8, the California, voter-supported initiative that protected the traditional definition of marriage and is now under legal assault.

Olsen and Boise can barely contain their scorn for the Pro-Marriage side of the debate, but one part of the brief is especially offensive. They write, “Indeed, Proponents’ state-centric construct of marriage means that the State could constitutionally deny any infertile couple the right to marry, and could prohibit marriage altogether if it chose to pursue a society less committed to “responsible” procreation.”

What an incredibly offensive, intentional mischaracterization of the position of those who stand against the redefinition of marriage. It is blisteringly, intentionally, ignorant. Here is why they are wrong.

Unlike homosexual couples, infertile heterosexual couples can be married because (a) infertility can be treatable and (b) even when it isn’t, infertile couples can be married without having to necessarily insist that a children’s right to a mother AND a father is discriminatory.

By contrast, allowing same-sex marriage effectively requires the redefinition of the natural needs of the child to simply having “parent 1″ and “parent 2″ instead of “mother” and “father.” Every child naturally aches for both a mother and a father and every child deprived of one or the other is keenly aware of the absence. Same-sex marriage would require society, and mental health professionals in particular, to tell any child (not just children of homosexual parents) who is grieving the absence of either mother or father that their grief is irrational and unacceptable and–at best–a distant second to society’s need to appease the narcissistic desires of adults.

Apparently, in the “new” conversation on marriage, children should be seen and not heard.

Gay Marriage: Getting the Conversation Right

The discussion about gay marriage is a terrifically sensitive topic and for the faithful Catholic, it’s an incredible easy conversation to lose.  It is simply too easy to be cast in the role of angry, finger-waving, “hater” whose moral sensitivity meter is wound too tight and whose sole mission in life is to be an obstacle to the erstwhile happiness of people who supposedly love each other.

It would be easy for us to console ourselves when we lose these conversations by reminding ourselves that we are blessed when persecuted for holiness sake (c.f., Matt 5:10) but the problem with this strategy of self-consolation, as I see it,  is that the conversation on marriage is one we can’t afford to lose.  The consequences of not making our case well are just too great to society, the Catholic vision of love and sex, and the protection of the family as the basic unit of society in any meaningful way.


Arguments that are rooted in religious/moral language (i.e., “God disapproves of this”), or the language of disgust (“gay marriage is unnatural” or “homosexual acts are distasteful”), even though they can be compelling for those who are already convinced of the rightness of the traditional view of things,  are easily overcome by the opposition.  For instance, how many of you have been shut up with simplistic responses like; “Your God might disapprove, but the God I know is a God of love and HE would NEVER stand in the way of our happiness.”  or “How DARE you say our love is disgusting.  You’re just a bumpkin, or worse, a bigot.  Why should we listen to you much less let you lead the way?  We’ve let ignorance lead for too long….”    Had you led with a better argument, you wouldn’t have been so easy to dispatch.

The thing is,  traditional Christians have much better arguments on our side than these; arguments that stand up to both logic and emotion.  To NOT use these argument to advance the cause of traditional marriage is to do our side a real disservice and to hand the victory to the opposition.  The marriage debate is not ours to win.  It’s our to lose.


To begin, I really encourage friends of traditional marriage to arm themselves with Bill May’s little, but powerful, booklet, Getting the Marriage Conversation Right.   It offers what I really have seen are the best, can’t-lose strategies for defending the nature of marriage.

His point (and although it’s too much to get into in a a blog post, his argument is  absolutely correct from the point of both history and social science) is that marriage is the only institution in existence that guarantees the rights of children to to be united with their mother and father.  Period.  For the 4000 years marriage has existed as a social and legal institution (beginning with Hammurabi) marriage has been understood as the institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and any children born from their union.  No other social structure does that.

Additionally, the reason heterosexual marriage has enjoyed pride-of-place in society for 4000 years is not because of the bigotry or prejudice of the ancient pagan society that first gave marriage legal and social status.  If anything, ancient Babylon was even MORE tolerant of alternative arrangements than our contemporary society is.

Instead, heterosexual marriage was given priority over other relationship types common to the time (hook-ups with temple prostitutes, cohabiting, same-sex unions) because it, much more than any other relationship type, yielded several observable benefits that were necessary for the creation of an orderly society.   Let’s look at five.

1. Marriage unites children to their mother and father.    This is the most important benefit.  Even compared to cohabiting couples, marriage comes out ahead.  About 30% of cohabiting couples give up their children.  It is virtually unheard of for married couples to give up their children.   Further, only children born in a marriage have a legal right to know who their mother and father are and to be raised by that mother and father.  Any social movement that undermines this fact does violence to the dignity of children (and I’ll explain in a minute how gay marriage undermines this right).

2. Children raised by married mothers and fathers fare significantly better.   Children born to a married mother and father do better on all academic, social, psychological, spiritual, and interpersonal measures.  All the data supports this.  Again, any social movement that undermines this fact does violence to the dignity of children (and, again,  I’ll explain in a minute how gay marriage undermines this right).

3.  No other relationship-type protects the financial and social security of women like marriage.  Marriage is the best poverty-prevention program we know.  The middle-class does not exist without marriage.   Married women are more financially and socially secure than women in any other relationship type (including lesbian relationships).  This is true even of college-educated women (Although this group is most likely to be secure without marriage, only 37% of women have a college degree).

4.  Marriage socializes men.  In addition to the fact that married men are exponentially more willing to claim and raise their own children, married men are significantly less likely to commit violent crime than unmarried men.  For example, according to the DOJ,  65% of crimes against women are committed by unmarried men.  Only 9% of married men have commited a violent crime against a woman.  This ratio holds up across the board for crime statistics.

5.  Marriage secures sustainable fertility rates. Even though the gap has narrowed somewhat, married couples still have more children than unmarried couples.  De-population is the most serious social problem facing the West.  As marriage rates have decreased, societies are not producing enough children to support their social infrastructure.    Marriage sees to the success of future generations.

So what does any of this have to do with gay marriage?

Remember, the only reason heterosexual marriage has enjoyed special legal and social status for 4000 years is the benefits it gives to society which are not limited to the above.  Gay marriage does not grant any benefits to society and in fact, undermines several of these social benefits  For example:

~Gay marriage makes it discriminatory to say that ANY child has a right to a mother and father.  This is the most serious problem.  Homosexual couples may have children through adoption or assisted reproduction, but they can not provide both parents.  But if gay marriage is about getting society to recognize that homosexual families are “just as good as” heterosexual families, this requires denying that any children–not just children of gay parents–have a right to a mother and father or need a mother and father.  This flies in the face of all available data. Every child who is denied a mother and/or a father feels the lack.  Gay marriage would require society, and mental health professionals, to tell all children that their natural longing for two, opposite-sex parents is disordered.

~Same-Sex marriage does not provide the same level of security for the partners or children raised in those households.  Homosexual relationships do not appear to be as stable as heterosexual relationships even where gay marriage is legal. Therefore, children raised in homosexual households are, statistically, at great financial and social risk. This is not the most important concern, but it is legitimate.

~Same-Sex marriage does not socialize partners to the same degree. The incidence of intimate partner violence is higher for both lesbian and gay couples than it is for married, heterosexual couples. This increases the risk of instability for children in gay and lesbian households.  This is also not the most important concern, but it is legitimate.


1. The push for homosexual marriage asks society to give benefits to a relationship-type that does not grant any benefits to society in return and, in fact, undermines many of the benefits society might otherwise count on from marriage.  This makes it harder to not justify extending similar benefits to cohabiting couples or any other household arrangement.

2. Likewise, homosexual marriage also undermines marriage rates for heterosexuals.  Marriage is “more expensive” (in terms of the effort and commitment it requires) than other relationship types.  Because of this, the more society promotes other marriage-like relationships as equivalent to marriage, the less attractive marriage becomes especially among the poor and those without a college degree (the very people who benefit from marriage the most).  We’re already seeing this.  As cohabitation becomes more socially acceptable, marriage rates have decreased for these most vulnerable groups.  Since it is extremely difficult to be in the middle class without being married, the lower marriage rates among the poor or lesser-educated means that these groups are becoming trapped in the under-class.

In short, the best case against same-sex marriage has nothing to do with religion, morality, bigotry, or disgust.  It has everything to do with protecting the rights of children to have a mother and father and to be united to their mother and father and the need to insist that it is unjust to extend benefits to a relationship-type that convey no benefits to society in return.

Homosexual persons do not deserve to be treated with scorn, disrespect, or bigotry.  They are persons deserving of our love and respect just like anyone else.  But extending love and respect to our homosexual brothers and sisters does not extend to redefining marriage so that it socially and practically meaningless.

It is true that most couples are completely ignorant of the social and public dimension of marriage.  Most couples just think of marriage as  a public recognition of a private, emotional commitment, but most couples’ ignorance of the facts doesn’t negate the facts.  Society cannot afford to extend benefits to anyone or anything that does not work for the good of society.  People must be free to make their own choices about who they live with, but society can only afford to encourage those relationships and institutions that  demonstrably work for it’s good.