Robert H. Knight
Q: In restricting marriage to one man and one woman, aren't you imposing your beliefs on others?
A: Marriage has been the foundation of civilization for thousands of years in cultures around the world. It is the single most important social institution, and it is the basis for the procreation of children and the heart of family life. Those who are trying to radically redefine it for their own purposes are the ones who are trying to impose their values on the rest of the population. Ordinary people did not pick this fight. They are not the aggressors. They are merely defending the basic morality that has sustained the culture for everyone against a radical attack.
Q: Oh, come on. Whom does it really hurt if a same-sex couple want to get married?
A: When homosexual couples seek state approval and all the benefits that the state reserves for married couples, they impose the law on everyone. According non-marital relationships the same status as marriage would mean that millions of people would be disenfranchised by their own governments. The state would be telling them that their beliefs are no longer valid, and would turn the civil rights laws into a battering ram against them:
Law is not a suggestion, but, as George Washington observed, it is force. Official state sanction of same-sex relationships as "marriage" would bring the full apparatus of the state against those who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. Traditional morality would, in effect, be outlawed.
Q: But if two people -- any two people -- love each other, why not let them marry?
A: Marriage is not just a matter of feelings. It is the specifically defined legal, social, economic and spiritual union of a man and a woman. The two sexes must be present for it to be marriage. If that definition is radically altered based on the "feelings" of those in other relationships, then the sky is the limit. There is no logical reason for not letting several people marry, or for gutting other requirements, such as minimum age, blood relative status or even the limitation of the relationship to human beings.
Q: Don't morals change? Haven't we heard all these tired phrases used in defense of not letting women vote or even in defense of slavery?
A: Various social movements have succeeded because they were in accord with natural law and the basic precepts of the moral code. Homosexuality has never been considered morally good, and it is a quantum leap from ending slavery to saying that homosexuality must now be considered good, healthy and worthy of state-protected benefits. Homosexuals enjoy all the rights every other citizen already has -- they can vote, own property, etc.-- but they cannot claim special treatment beyond those rights. Anytime they achieve that, they threaten the civil rights of those who disagree with them.
Q: For years, in some Southern states, blacks and whites were prevented from marrying by anti-miscegenation laws. Eventually, the courts overturned these laws. Aren't same-sex couples being similarly discriminated against? Isn't it only a matter of time before these repressive laws are also overturned?
A: As Colin Powell has observed, skin color and sexual behavior are entirely different. The first is a benign, inborn characteristic that has no bearing on conduct or character; the second is behaviorally-based and has everything to do with character, morality and society's basic rules of conduct. If the civil rights laws begin deviating into behavior and away from race, ethnic origin, place of birth or other immutable characteristics, there is no stopping point. New laws would have to be coined almost daily to accommodate the flood of claims based on behavior (smokers, compulsive gamblers, pornography fanatics, sex addicts and pedophiles could all claim new "rights" to protection against discrimination). One non-immutable characteristic that does get protection is religion, because that is enshrined in the Constitution. But there is no constitutional right to engage in sodomy (see Bowers v. Hardwick) and demand that the state elevate it into protected status.
Q: But studies show that homosexuals are born that way. How then can you blame them for their condition?
A: Nobody is "blaming" anyone for having homosexual desires. The "genetic" studies that have been publicized have been conducted by self-styled homosexual activists or have been misrepresented in the media. The studies themselves typically have tiny sample sizes, biased selection, and other major methodological flaws, and are not replicated by reputable scientists. By contrast, 70 years of therapeutic counseling and case studies show a remarkable consistency concerning the origins of the homosexual impulse as an uncompleted gender identity seeking after its own sex to replace what was not fully developed. Do homosexuals choose to be gay? Mostly, no, but they can choose their behavior, and they can change their orientation, as researchers Masters and Johnson showed in their landmark studies and as numerous examples of successful personal transformation testify.
Q: Isn't the traditional view of marriage religious in nature? And if so, doesn't the restriction of marriage to one man and one woman violate the religious beliefs of those who disagree?
A: Although marriage does indeed arise from religious traditions, most notably the Bible, it is an independently quantifiable good for society. Hence, the state has an interest in preserving and protecting the special status of marriage, regardless of religious beliefs. A society can get along just fine without any homosexuality, but no society can get along without marriage. That is why the state encourages marriage. In 1885, the Supreme Court felt so strongly that marriage was to be protected that it declared it as a requirement for admission of new states to the Union. Any prospective state, the court said, had to have law resting "on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization, the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement."
Q: What about childless couples? Since you say that marriage must be protected partly because of its importance in forming families, does this mean that heterosexual couples who do not have children shouldn't get marriage licenses?
A: Of course not. Although most people marry with the intention of someday starting families, the married couples who do not have children still have the potential for becoming mothers and fathers, either biologically or through adoption. Marriage is a societal good even without children, as husbands and wives serve as role models for children in their neighborhoods. Procreation is an important aspect of society's high regard for marriage, but it is not the only reason marriage is protected. Children do not benefit when homosexuality is presented as a neutral or positive lifestyle choice.
Q: But with the threat of AIDS and other diseases among promiscuous, homosexual men, wouldn't it be a societal good to encourage homosexual monogamy?
A: In cities where homosexual monogamy is already being encouraged, AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases are skyrocketing. It is not "homophobia" that is causing this, but the behavior itself, which is destructive emotionally, physically and morally to individuals, families and societies. That is why it has been discouraged in all successful cultures. Socrates and Plato wrote that homosexuality was harmful to individuals and society and should be discouraged. Even in "steady" homosexual relationships, dangerous sex occurs, since the defining homosexual sex act is patently unhealthy by any standard. State sanction of homosexuality in any form is an invitation to the young to experiment with something that may prove deadly. Any public health benefits available by discouraging promiscuous homosexual activity can be achieved without redefining traditional marriage, which is per se a profoundly important public health measure.
Besides, homosexual literature acknowledges that homosexual "monogamy" is largely fictional. Most homosexual relationships are fleeting. Those that endure more than a few years do so because of an agreement to have outside partners. As New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan, a homosexual, writes in his book Virtually Normal, "the openness of the contract" of homosexual "marriage" reflects "greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman." In other words, the homosexual concept of "monogamy" is non-monogamous. Homosexual activist Michaelangelo Signorile frankly admits that the goal of homosexual activists is to "fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, to demand the right to marry not as a way of adhering to society's moral codes but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution...."
Q: Don't most people want homosexuals to be treated fairly?
A: Yes. Most people have no ill will toward homosexuals, but this does not mean that a tiny segment of the population (less than 2 percent) should be allowed to radically redefine society's moral code. Even in liberal Hawaii, recent polls show that more than 70 percent of residents oppose same-sex "marriage," and national polls show that about two-thirds of respondents oppose same-sex "marriage." This is not about tolerance, but about a tiny group seeking to use the law to impose its version of morality on everyone else.
Q: Still, don't homosexuals suffer discrimination when they can't marry?
A: No. Homosexuals have precisely the same right to marry as anyone else. Marriage is the bringing together of the two sexes. That is the whole point. To enter marriage, you must meet its qualifications. Any attempt to get around the rules that everyone else plays by is an attempt to have special rights, not equal rights. Eliminating an entire sex from the picture and then calling it "marriage" is not a mere expansion of an institution, but rather the destruction of a principle.
Q: What about domestic partnerships? If you won't go along with same-sex "marriage," why not at least allow committed same-sex couples to get some benefits?
A: The state should never be in the business of encouraging unhealthy behavior by granting special benefits for it. A homosexual life does not offer the richness of the complementary relationship that men and women find in marriage and family life. People should not be written off as if they can do no better than be mired in an unhealthy, unnatural behavior. The more that homosexuality is encouraged, the more damage will be wreaked among individuals, families and society. This is not compassion but its opposite: a ruthless social Darwinism that devalues people as impulse-driven incorrigibles. Each human soul is of inestimable worth, and homosexuals are no different from anyone else. They deserve the truth, not an officially sanctioned lie.
Robert H. Knight is director of cultural studies at the Family Research Council, a Washington, D.C.-based research and educational organization.