Countering the Counterfeit: A Case for Traditional Marriage
By Penna Dexter
If we do not defend marriage now we will lose it. Too strong a statement? The truth is we are one court decision away from the beginning of the end of traditional marriage in this country. Homosexual activists across America are poised and ready for a court in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Indiana, Arizona, or another state to grant marriage to same sex couples. The first state to approve these "marriages" will become a vacation spot for gay couples who will travel there to get "married" and return to their home states asking for those marriages to be recognized. If you don't believe this will happen, consider the situation in Vermont, which began allowing civil unions three years ago. Eighty-five percent of the nearly 5700 civil unions registered in Vermont have been for out-of-state homosexual couples.
Once just one state legalizes gay marriage, the 37 states that have laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman will see those laws challenged; some will stand; some will be struck down. Unless a constitutional amendment is passed, defining marriage as between one man and one woman, gay marriage will be imposed incrementally on a nation that has taken the sexual revolution too far, but not far enough to applaud this. There is no state legislature that would approve same sex marriage unless forced to by the courts. No state referendum asking for legal gay marriage could pass. Several public opinion polls show that Americans are even less ready for same sex marriage than before the Supreme Court overturned the Texas sodomy law. Overcelebrating and overreaching on the part of the gay activist community has forced Americans, even those who really don't mind giving homosexuals just about any rights they want, to take a serious look at this idea of same sex marriage.
The Federal Marriage Amendment, already introduced in the House of Representatives is the only way to prevent the courts from imposing same sex marriage on America. But, a constitutional amendment is a tall order. It will require public opinion to hold firm against same sex marriage. When someone asks why allowing Harry and Sam to get "married" would demean your marriage, or mine, we'll need answers that take into consideration Americans' strong aversion to rhetoric that even approaches sounding intolerant toward homosexuals as persons. Homosexual activist groups and the mainstream media are expert in capitalizing on that sentiment. In workplace lunchrooms, over coffee at Starbucks, or on the sidelines at athletic practices we need to have a reasoned national conversation on why traditional marriage must be preserved and why that cannot happen if gay marriage is allowed.
Marriage: the foundation of all successful societies
Human societies have always restricted marriage to opposite sex unions. This has served to protect families against the negative consequences of unrestrained sexuality. Noted British anthropologist, J.D. Unwin, set out to show, by studying 86 cultures, that sex outside of marriage did not destroy cultures. He proved the opposite. Dr. Unwin's report, released in 1934, shows that the key to a society's success is the degree to which it confines sex to marriage. The energy displayed by monogamous societies is channeled into productive endeavors, promoting an expansive society, socially, economically and in many other ways. As a society becomes less monogamous, its productive energy diminishes. Dr. Unwin found that the impact lags two generations. Now, a generation away from the beginning of the sexual revolution, we're at a crossroads. We must encourage marriage to strengthen society.
But homosexual activists say, "That's just want we want. We want what heterosexuals have: marriage." Trouble is, expanding marriage to allow homosexual partners, would redefine the institution and ultimately destroy it. Our society will suffer the consequences. In a July 3 Boston Globe column, Jeff Jacoby describes how homosexual marriage would diminish traditional marriage:
"Together with the ancient taboos against adultery and incest and the western taboo against polygamy, the heterosexuality of marriage helps shield women and children from exploitation, cements the union between fathers and mothers, and bolsters the ethos of monogamy on which the dignity of marriage depends."
The price we p ay for increased sexual freedom is the erosion of these protections. Legalized same sex marriage will unravel the family stability so important to society.
There are several reasons:
1. Same sex marriage will not be monogamous. Jordan Lorence, Senior Staff Attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund warns against assuming that homosexuals think about marriage the same way heterosexuals do. Gays do not value chastity or "waiting until marriage". Prominent homosexuals admit this. Lesbian writer Camille Paglia calls gay marriage "monogamy without fidelity", describing a sort of emotional faithfulness that does not exclude physical unfaithfulness. And conservative homosexual columnist Andrew Sullivan writes of "a broader understanding of commitment". This understanding is born out by several studies, the most recent of which is based on the health records of young Dutch homosexual men. Dr. Maria Xiridou of the Amsterdam Municipal Health Service published her findings in the May issue of the journal, AIDS. She found that homosexual relationships last, on average, 1 1/2 years and that men in those relationships have an average of eight partners per year outside their main partnership. Your fellow soccer mom may argue that heterosexual marriages are wrecked by unfaithfulness too. But the vast majority of marriages last. Sixty-seven percent of first marriages in the United States last 10 years and 50% last 20 years. And several studies show more than 3/4 of married people say they have been faithful to their vows.
2. Men need the restraint of marriage. Jordan Lorence likens men's sex drives to "nuclear energy". Marriage provides a natural, healthy outlet for the sex drives of both men and women. Marriage helps men to focus on their wives and children. It restrains the self-centeredness and self-indulgence that are part of human nature. Women and children are the victims of the sexual revolution. To the extent that the society has retreated from marriage, there has been an expansion of government as the state attempts to fix the problems that result. Maggie Gallagher, editor of Marriagedebate.com and co-author of The Case for Marriage, describes marriage as
"...the fundamental, cross-cultural institution for bridging the male-female divide so that children have loving, committed mothers and fathers. Marriage is inherently normative: It is about holding out a certain kind of relationship as a social ideal, especially where there are children involved."
3 Every individual has limits on the list of who they can marry. An adult male cannot marry a six-year-old girl, his mother, or his dog. He cannot marry someone else's wife, or three women. Jordan Lorence points out that the emotional argument set forth by homosexuals who want to "come to the marriage party" is really a request to expand the list of who we can marry. How far will this go? Stanley Kurtz of the Hoover Institution wrote an extensive article for The Weekly Standard (8/4 &11, 2003) entitled "Beyond Gay Marriage". He makes a compelling case that legalizing homosexual marriage will usher in legalized polygamy and polymory (group marriage). He writes, "State-sanctioned polymory is now the cutting-edge issue among scholars of family law." He names and describes the work of several family law theorists at major universities many of whom are also advocates for lesbian and gay rights. Stanley Kurtz is disturbed by the influence of these scholars who seek "the eventual abolition of marriage as a legal category." One argument made for same sex marriage is that it will curb gay male promiscuity. Kurtz expects that, instead, sexually open couples will "help redefine marriage as a non-monogamous institution." We have eons of experience to prove that traditional marriage provides a stable environment for raising children. Place children smack in the middle of these open "marriages" and you have a recipe for emotional disaster, not to mention an exploding social welfare state as people moving in and out of these relationships try to figure out who will take care of the kids.
Why not just take the state out of the marriage equation and let the church have it? That's the compromise proposed by the leader of Canada's Conservative Party, Peter MacKay. The plan would be to scrap marriage from the lawbooks and replace it with registered domestic partnerships for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. Michael Kinsley proposed essentially the same thing in a Washington Post column entitled "Abolish Marriage", (7/3/03). Marriage would be left to the churches and other organizations that want it. They could define what kind of couples they want to offer marriage to. Is that what we want? We'd better start explaining why not.
Will Homosexual Marriage Destroy Marriage?
By Penna Dexter
There's a huge question mark punctuating the future of marriage in America. Depending upon the outcome of the battles now taking place in Massachusetts, Oregon, San Francisco and so many other places, we can expect one of two very different societies: one with marriage and one virtually without it. Defenders of traditional marriage are often asked, "What will gay marriage do to your marriage." The answer is that gay marriage will do nothing to my marriage, but it will eventually marginalize the institution of marriage and destroy its positive impact on our culture.
Europe is ahead of the U.S. on the gay marriage curve. In the Netherlands and Belgium there is full, legal same sex marriage. Many other European countries and Canada have marriage lite, civil unions which confer on cohabiting couples most of the benefits of marriage. These unions are also legal for homosexuals in Vermont and California. Some people call these arrangements 'marriage without the name.' But they are far less permanent. Couples can enter them and take advantage of the benefits...insurance coverage, hospital visitation rights, tax advantages, etc... and then leave when they want to. They don't need a divorce. To some people, this sounds convenient. But it's not so convenient...or beneficial... for children. And the cost to society is staggering.
In some parts of Europe, a generation is growing up literally without the influence of the traditional family. Alan Sears writes in his book, The Homosexual Agenda, that more than half of the children in Europe are born to unwed mothers. In countries like Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, it's been decades since the traditional family has been the norm for large percentages of children. For instance, in Sweden, 54% of children are born out of wedlock. In Norway, it's 49%. Denmark, 46%. In Iceland, the number of children born to unwed mothers is over 65%. Admittedly, the numbers are not great here in America: 27% of children are born to white single mothers; 69% to black single mothers. When governments subsidize single motherhood, marriage is discouraged. In Scandinavia mothers are simply better off financially if they do not marry The U.S. has injected some sanity into the system with welfare reform, which curtailed the financial incentives for women to have children out of wedlock. But if we allow it... the homosexual, same sex marriage juggernaut will turn the bus around and send us barreling down the road of government subsidy of all kinds of variations of families and the cheapening of marriage. Right now our laws encourage marriage because it's healthy for the society. Open all the benefits of marriage, and marriage itself, up to people simply living together with a registered partnership or a "marriage" between two homosexuals, and what do you have? Well the "conservative" argument for gay marriage says you have more stability, that marriage, gay or straight is good for America. "At least they're getting married, or making some sort of commitment."
To show where this "conservative" argument for homosexual marriage breaks down, Anthropologist, Stanley Kurtz wrote a series of articles for the Weekly Standard. Dr. Kurtz says marriage is fast disappearing in those places that are most hospitable to homosexual marriage. He points to Nordland, a county in northern Norway, where, even in some powerful churches, there's a high degree of acceptance of gay marriage. In fact, two parishes in Nordland have voted to fly rainbow flags on their churches. The flags signify that no one in these churches, including priests, may speak or preach against homosexual behavior. This shouldn't surprise us. In countries that embrace homosexuality, all of a sudden it literally becomes a crime to speak against anything having to do with the lifestyle. (For instance, in Canada, Christians have been fined for publicly stating that homosexuality is a sin.) In these churches in Nordland, gay priests are welcome and freely live in "registered partnerships." In most of Norway the Lutheran church is an important positive influence for traditional marriage. But, in Nordland, the promotion of homosexuality has resulted in a near-purge of conservative clergy and therefore of the churches' moral disapproval of cohabitation. Sixty-seven percent of all children born in Nordland in 2002 were to unmarried mothers often in cohabiting relationships. For firstborn children, the figure is 87%. Some couples were getting married when the second baby arrived, but that's changing. Fewer and fewer Nordlanders are doing so. So the 67% figure is moving toward the 87% number. When it gets there, in that part of Norway, marriage will be effectively dead. And, since cohabiting couples in Norway are three times as likely to break up as married couples, where's the stability? There's no conservative argument for gay marriage in Nordland. Instead, gay marriage is destroying marriage. Marriage is nearly dead there. Where does that leave the children? Many of their needs must increasingly be met by government.
Another Norwegian district is Nord-Troendelag. It's like the Norwegian Massachusetts because it's highly influenced by a liberal-left leaning institution of higher learning. Nord-Troendelag is bordered by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Two radical, pro-gay marriage social scientists, Kari Moxnes and Kari Melby, teach at the University. Their philosophy is pervasive in Nord-Troendelag. Again, out-of-wedlock birthrates are much higher than in the country as a whole: 83% for first-time births and 67% for all children. In these districts…really the Vermont and Massachusetts of Norway…marriage has almost disappeared. But people are still having babies. The connection between marriage and parenthood is fast disappearing.
This is spreading. Stanley Kurtz writes that "Marriage in Scandinavia is in deep decline, with children shouldering the burden of family dissolution." He says the "mainspring" of this decline..."the separation between marriage and parenthood...can be linked to gay marriage." Certainly, to some degree, marriage is being separated from parenthood in the United States. Look at the divorce rate and the numbers of children being raised in single parent homes. But we have a long way to go before marriage is decoupled from parenthood to the degree it is in Nordland and Nord-Troendelag. Gay marriage unleashed across America will do it.
Homosexual activists' quest for gay marriage is about getting some kind of rights. But marriage is not about rights. It's about what's right for children, for the next generation. It's about offering our kids a stable society. Because of its intended permanence the marriage relationship between a man and a woman is the only one that has the biological potential to produce children and then provide the ideal environment for those children to grow up in. Successful societies have always understood this. That's why marriage provides a net benefit for the society. If we tamper with it, we'll find ourselves looking to government to care for the children.
This article first appeared in the May 2004 issue of the Freedom Club Report.
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