For evangelical Christians, same-sex marriage is still a contentious issue. In my country the issue has been largely decided by an act of Parliament for over 15 years now. It’s really not an issue here, although I suspect our evangelicals are just not as noisy as Americans. We certainly don’t have any of our major political parties up in arms about the decision to legalize same-sex marriages. It is, as they say, a non-issue where I live.
And for that reason I have a really hard time understanding why same-sex marriages is such a big deal for so many American right wing religious nutcases. It’s not like they are harmed in any way by gay people getting married to people of their own gender. It’s not like it affects their ability to have children, read their Bible, or make for any material differences in their lives. I don’t hear too much from religious conservative about the problem of spousal abuse (which would seem to be a much bigger problem than gay people getting married), or people who have children they can’t afford to take care of, yet they have no problem using their religion as a cudgel to stop gay people from getting married. They seem very happy to wave around their religious holy text as a justification for their bigotry.
On that note, over at Triablogue, some Christian bigot named Jason Engwer produced a blog post with some pretty bad arguments against same-sex marriage. He specifically offers the following points:
- Opposite-sex relationships still promote the unity of the genders in a way that same-sex relationships don’t
- Opposite-sex relationships still have a potential that same-sex relationships don’t have to produce biological offspring
- Opposite-sex relationships provide a significantly different environment in which to raise children
- We have good religious grounds for distinguishing between opposite-sex and same-sex relationships.
On his first point, whatever he actually means here, even if I was to grant that opposite-sex relationship offer some “unity of the genders in a way that same-sex relationship do not “, I fail to see how this is an argument against same-sex marriage. The fact that opposite-sex relationship have some attribute in no way takes away from reasons for allowing same-sex relationship, and allowing people to marry this may. Frankly, for those who aren’t straight, “the unity of the genders” probably means very little to them, as most simply aren’t interested in being in a relationship with a person of the opposite gender. So how is this a good reason to deny them the right to marry? I fail to see how this offers a good justification for his bigotry.
On the second point, while the author likely believes miracles are possible, a man without testicles, or a woman without a uterus or overies, aren’t going to produce offspring by themselves. Regardless, marriage is not simply about making babies, and is not a requirement for making them either. If it were then unwed mothers wouldn’t be a thing. Would the author seriously propose that we deny marriage to those for whom it is impossible to have offspring? If not, this point is really just a convenient way to say “can’t have kids, don’t get married.”
On his third point, as far as I’m aware there’s no compelling evidence that children raised by same sex couples have any statistically significant differences in outcomes once you account for other socio-economic variables. As far as I know, children raised by two parents fare equally regardless of their parents gender. Even then, if there does happen to be some real, demonstrable, harm that came to children being raised by same-sex couples, is it worse than the harm that comes to children raised by single parents, and why should this be a factor in whether two consenting adults can get married? At best it’s an argument against certain people having children, and even then it’s not much of an argument for that either.
I suspect that if we were to look at the outcomes of children we’d find that children raised in deep poverty have some of the worse life outcomes, yet we do not tell poor parents that they cannot get married, or have children. If this was really about “the children”, evangelicals would be doing much more than simply stopping gay people from getting married. As I said earlier, this is much more about enforcing their religious bigotry, and picking on a minority that has been maligned for millennia.
On the fourth point, I don’t care (and for the most part nor does the law) what your religious grounds are. The law is secular (unless Western style democracies suddenly became theocracies overnight, and I hadn’t heard about it), and does not accept religious convictions as a reason to deny rights to other people. You don’t get to make the government impose your religious beliefs on others, especially those who don’t agree with your religious beliefs. Religious nonsense is not a justification for our government to behave in a certain fashion. If that’s what you want then move to Iran or Saudi Arabia.
On top of all of this there are all the benefits that come from being married. Aside from the fact that the law treats married couples differently than even common-law couples, we know that there are health benefits as well. Why would we want to deny people these benefits, simply because you think they’re marrying the wrong person? Oh right, because you think they’re marrying the wrong person, and you must know best. Sigh.