Saturday, November 8, 2008

What explains the opposition to gay marriage?

Voters in three states--California, Arizona, and Florida--voted to ban gay marriage on Tuesday.

I've never understood the opposition to gay marriage (or gay fatherhood, which is why the subject comes up here).

A couple of years ago in Washington, at dinner with parents who were lobbying Congress for better care and insurance coverage for their mentally ill children, one woman revealed that she was a spokesperson for a group opposed to gay marriage.

It was not a political gathering--it was supposed to be a non-partisan group united in support of mentally ill kids. But it quickly became political.

Allowing gay marriage, the woman said, would undermine the institution of marriage. I asked how. "There are studies," she said. "I can send them to you."

A few months before this gathering, Elizabeth and I had eloped to Key West to get married. Every detail of the ceremony, at Hemingway's house, was perfect, right down to the champagne and key lime pie. I can't imagine, I said at the gathering, how the status of gay marriage could have in any way undermined our marriage. the gay marriage opponent didn't have an answer for that; she just told me she would send me the studies. I told her I was eager to see them, that I wanted to understand her position. I meant it.

When the "studies" arrived, a few weeks later, I was disappointed to see that they were not studies at all. They were anti-gay marriage columns by a conservative columnist in Sweden, as I recall. They merely repeated that gay marriage would undermine marriage; they didn't do anything to help me understand why so many people apparently believe that.

Marriage is an institution only because it is renewed millions of times around the world every year by couples who recreate it for themselves. As long as people continue to get married, the institution will be sound, I think. When they don't, it will crumble.

If we really want the institution of marriage to endure and be strong, should we not extend it to as many people as possible? By discouraging gay couples from marrying, aren't conservatives themselves undermining the institution?

1 comment:

  1. I would like you to read my post on the subject and hear your comments. It is titled: As promised, my rant against the gay marriage bans. It includes all the standard arguments against gay marriage and counters each. Thank you.