Gays Aren’t Destroying the Institution of Marriage — Rather, They’re Saving It
Opponents of changing marriage laws in the United States claim that extending these rights to same-sex couples “threaten the institution of marriage.”
But evidence shows that gays are hardly matrimony’s primary menace. In fact, it’s the straights, the so-called traditionalists who have evaded, mocked, and in increasing numbers abandoned the most sacred marriage vow, “I wed thee….’til death do us part.”
Let’s begin by highlighting what we already know. About half of all marriages end in divorce. Of those who do tie the knot, the averge person gets married about 1.8 imes during his or her lifetime. Futhermore, more than half the adult U.S population is curently single, the lowest percentage in history. So, if straight marraiges can’t even muster the formation of a simple majority — either by overall number or by the number of unions which ultimately prove successful — then how can this camp speak of protecting traditional marriage with any sense of credibility?
Fact is, we’re blowing it big time, and we need help. If marriage is to be protected and emboldened as one of the keys to creating a more stable society, then we ought to be doing a lot more to foster ways that marriage will appeal to increasing numbers of people now disenfranchised or excluded outright by ”tradtition.” This mandates thinking about the institution of marraige in ways we hadn’t considered before, that might have been unthinkable just a generation ago.
We’re headed in the right direction. E.J. Dionne, the excellent Washington Post editorialist, made this point recently. He wote, “The rapid evolution of attitudes found toward gay marriage is a wonder to behold. On few issues has public opinion moved as quickly or decisively. Many who are against the formal recognition of homosexual unions are now resigned to the reality they will eventually become commonplace.”
For stubborn conservatives who refuse to abandon what seems to be an indefensible position, one which is both outdated and unjust, the very best they can hope for is slowing down (but not reversing) a gradual decline in marraiges. Statistics reveal that more than half of all American children today are born out of wedlock. This has potentially catastrophic consequences for society in the long run. Given the growing financial pressures on working people today, often one parent simply isn’t equiped to raise a child, let alone multiple children on one income. Yes, some single-parents do manage to juggle multiple responsibilities and do a fine job. But ask any single parent — and most will say it’s not easy. Children born and raised in two-parent families tend to perform better in society. READ MORE HERE
While statistics bear out justification for concern about traditional marraige, the application of what I call “the fairness principle” requires that marriage rights be granted to all people. Using an admittedly extreme example, there’s something inherently absurd about a legal system which somehow allows pop princess Brittany Spears to run off to Las Vegas and get married (and then quickly divorced) over a weekend, whereas the longterm commitment of a same-sex couple can’t be legally sanctioned in even the most conventional of ceremonies. Using another example, why do we legally sanction mail-order brides, while not allowing a commited gay couple the same access to our county courthouses? Is it really fair that somoene who purchases a wife in the same manner you buy a carburetor off E-bay is deemed acceptable by society, but the same-sex couple is not?
We’ve been down this path before. Until the 1960s, many states had laws against interracial marriage. Much like that fight a half century ago, gay mariage simply asks for the same rights granted to everyone else. Not special rights. The same rights. Yet what is most outrageous of all is that in this day and age people have to stand up and make this fight at all. There’s something preposterous about the fact this “debate” is even taking place in the 21st Century. Given some of the crusty attitudes out there (some motived by hate), one must wonder which of us are living in 2013, as opposed to 1913.
As E.J. Dionne correctly noted, the tide is turning (and arguably ”has turned already”). There’s no way of going back. Young people tend to support marriage equality, and do so openly in increasingly overwhelming numbers. As those clinging to traditional views of marriage — who tend to be old people — are gradually expiring. Their hopeless ground on the battle front isn’t being replaced with new recruits to the old faith. Indeed, what’s left of the dinosaur arguments for traditional marriage is now pretty much mustered in fundamentalist churches, which will thankfully continue to decline in influence over American life, particularly on social issues.
So how might gays be the involuntary saviors of the institution of marraige? If we agree that heterosexual marriages fail at least half the time, and children are increasingly born out of wedlock in alarming rates, then marriage desperately needs a jump start, which means more lifelong partners who will: (1) Stay together longer, and (2) Be capable of raising children and being good parents.
Oddly enough, this is one area where same-sex couples are likely to play a critical in actually bolstering the convoluted notion of “traditional family values.” Although research is quite premature on same-sex marraige and its effects (since it’s still a relatively new option for couples), gay relationships — and particularly female-female partnerships – are been found to be the most stable (and happy) couples. Furthermore, the deleterious aspects of these unions — things like domestic violence and abuse which are almost entirely confined to male-female relationships — are considerably lower among same-sex couples.
The law and science will continue to provide more options to greater numbers of people – including gays — when it comes to parenthood. Artificial insemination and adoption, currently the two most readily available options, will inevitably create more two-parent households, and by consequence, more stability for children. Yes – some children raised within these relationships will face challenges growing up, at school and among their peers. But these unfortunate instances will will gradually diminish over tme in much the same manner that racial discrimination and other outmoded manifestations of uglier times lessened and eventually became stigmatized.
If we continue to define marriage according to tradition, as a sacred right granted exclusively to straights, not only is this blatantly discriminatory, it also undermines the very context of what marriage means – which is an affirmation of responsibility. Same-sex couples hardly threaten the sanctity of marraige. To the contrary, they strengthen it. To prove this, all one must do is look at the recent “marriage boom” taking place now in states where same-sex marriage has been legalized.
Those who claim to support marriage should look to this advancing phenomenon, not with shock and derision. But rather with consolation and hope. It’s not the straights who will end up saving the insitution of marriage. That sorry track record speaks for itself. Rather, it’s gays who have more than earned and rightly deserve their rights manifested in the “pursuit of happiness” passage of the U.S. Constitution granted to us all.