The Gregorian Blog
Gay Marriage Means no Marriage
I have been involved in an e-mail discussion with a celebrity who first sought me out after I commented on the gay “marriage” vote in New York. I won’t say who he is, because in presenting our back-and-forth, I’m summarizing his arguments and editing mine. But he never answered my latest, so I turn it over to the public …
Celebrity: Tell me how my being able to marry another man will change your marriage? You will be right where you started, only I will now have a right to marry too.
I think we’re both saying “marriage” and meaning two different things. To me “marriage” means: An institution whose benefits to the state are so important to the state that the state protects and encourages it.
Within the state’s competence are public things which impact the common good:
• Health codes.
Not in the state’s competence are some very important dimensions of life which it cannot judge:
• Friendships (what if my friend betrays me? The state has nothing to say).
• Love relationships (Your friends care who you love. The state doesn’t).
• Whose turn it is to do the dishes (which is a huge deal in my house of eight kids, but they have no recourse outside our home).
The state has traditionally put marriage in that first category of public acts it can assess.
If marriage is simply the state saying, “You say you love your squeeze! Good for you!” then marriage is worse than meaningless. Why should the state care about my love for my squeeze? It shouldn’t. And why should squeezes who have declared their love to the state be given any priority over squeezes who have not? That’s discriminatory.
Once marriage is redefined to mean “Telling the state who you love,” it has been defined out of existence … and (just you watch) will soon be gone in practice, too (yes, completing a process that started before gay “marriage”).
So why does marriage belong in that first category of things the state should have some say in? Because ….
1. Heterosexual marriage civilizes men by tethering sex to responsibility such that first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes little Tommy in a baby carriage. The less of that we have, the more sex becomes a public order and public health problem.
2. Heterosexual marriage bonds one generation to the next, driving us to better our communities, because we know Junior and Sweetie are going to have to live in the mess we leave. With less marriage, you have less (and more subdued) public-spiritedness.
3. Heterosexual marriage provides the best chance of an environment suited to kids’ developmental needs, which studies say ideally means a caring, person-focused feminine-unit who says, “You poor thing!” and a more event-oriented masculine-unit who says, “It’s not that bad.”
You object: “Does marriage really ‘produce children?’ Couples who can’t or don’t intend to have children are allowed to get married, right? Do their marriages mean that your marriage is no longer ordered toward family?”
Yes, marriage produces children; and homosexual “marriages” never do so on their own.
That some couples who can’t have children get married doesn’t change the purpose of the institution of marriage any more than the purpose of educational institutions have been changed by the fact that some men who can’t teach have become teachers.
What would change the institution of education is if you forced courts and teachers unions to call all museum docents “teachers.” To do so would not simply “allow more educators to benefit from teacher status.” It would redefine “teacher.”
(A docent might say to a teacher: “What about my right to be a teacher? How will your life change if I get to be called a teacher?” The answer: Nothing will change, and everything will be different.)
San Francisco Doesn’t Count!
To the New York Times story citing the study showing that half of San Francisco’s homosexual “marriages” became open marriages in the first three years you replied that San Francisco is the “free-lovinest city in America” and that homosexuals there behave differently from others elsewhere.
“San Francisco Doesn’t Count”? Oh, yes it does. I lived there for five years – and just returned from a visit there. I worked in the financial district where I knew several homosexual men who were one half of a longstanding homosexual couple. I would make the opposite argument to yours: In San Francisco, you have a culture that accepts homosexuality, and you have longstanding couples; it’s a better test market than other cities. And even in San Francisco, half of all “marriages” became open arrangements with the first three years.
Friends and relatives in the Bay Area have discovered what I have about homosexual men we know. For me, that includes but is not limited to the patients at Mother Teresa’s AIDS home I spent hours smoking and chatting with (when you’re dying of AIDS anyway, why not smoke?). When you get talking about the deep stuff, you often find that homosexual men are willing to admit that there is a love wound in them that they are trying to fill.
This is, in fact, why I made my bold claim to delirious happiness (which is fundamentally true) in my last email. I have found that the homosexual men I have known, in honest moments, tell me that there is a fundamental unease in them.
You ask me: What if homosexual marriage in God’s plan, too?
Well, if it were, I would expect homosexual marriage to have the marks of those things that are in God’s plan: The major religions should say it is in God’s plan. Developed human societies should have a long history of it — not incidents of it, but a history of holding it in the heart of the society. Sociological data should show it to be a healthy thing (it shouldn’t reach a 50% open marriage rate in San Francisco, or immediately lead to a “Hey, now that we can marry, we can still be unfaithful, right?” article in the New York Times). If it were part of God’s plan it would make physiological and anatomical good sense.
Which brings me to the last thing that homosexual “marriage” changes about me.
While homosexuals are busy re-imagining marriage to make it fit their lifestyle, redefining “marriage” will simply make it impossible for me to follow my religion. The Law is a teacher and a condemner. With gay “marriage,” the Law teaches that to be married means simply to have a State Squeeze, of whatever sex. And in New York, the Law now must condemn me as a bigot if I act according to what the Catholic Church teaches about marriage, in which wedding I choose to serve (if I’m in weddings) in what classes I am willing to teach (if I’m a teacher) and in what couple I choose to adopt my children (if I need that).
I’m not a bigot. I love homosexual men. I mean in a, you know, straight way. But the Law can’t see that. Love isn’t in its competence.
Tom Hoopes, former editor of the National Catholic Register, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications department and edits the college’s Catholic identity speech digest, The Gregorian.