Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Injustice is good and justice is naiveté. That’s the proposition Socrates’ irascible interlocutor put forward in The Republic—a viewpoint the Greek philosopher admitted was hard to counter because it fell so far outside the norms of ethical discourse.

The debate about gay marriage falls in the same category. Who would have thought twenty years ago that politicians and activists would seriously propose changing the definition of marriage? Who would have suspected that a state Supreme Court majority of one would equate inherently barren same-sex relationships with male-female unions whose reproductive consequences are typically enormous?

Who would have believed that rational individuals would repeatedly declare with a straight face that males and females are essentially identical when it comes to child rearing—or that natural and obvious biological differences are as irrelevant as variations in skin pigmentation and eye color?

Yet same-sex unions for which promiscuity can have absolutely no reproductive consequences are blindly said to be identical to unions for which marriage has constituted (by promoting fidelity and on-going responsibility to offspring) the greatest institutional protection for women and children.

Logically, if these two types of union are the same, then children and sexual fidelity can’t be central to the definition of marriage. Instead, deconstructed marriage will become (even more than it already has) a mere matter of legal benefits between two or more individuals with amorous feelings toward each other.

Only persons with constrained imaginations could assert that this radical redefinition won’t significantly impact society. Indeed, it’s already had an impact.

In San Francisco first-graders in a public school were recently taken on a field trip to witness their teacher’s lesbian wedding—another lesson in diversity by folks who assert, incredibly, that defenders of traditional marriage are injecting government into people’s private lives.

Yet it was gay activists who “injected” their lifestyle into government via parades in which San Diego firemen were ordered to participate. And it was a lesbian who sued a North County doctor for declining to participate in her insemination—thereby “injecting” government into the doctor’s own conscience.

Indeed, were it not for an unprecedented judicial fiat, the issue of gay marriage wouldn’t have been “injected” into politics at all.

Now this radical innovation, justified by the narrowest of legal margins, is being advertised (thanks to Jerry Brown’s linguistic revision of Prop 8's voter summary) as a “right” that presumably existed from eternity alongside the rights to life, liberty, and abortion on demand. Other anti-8 ads claim that same-sex marriage will have no educational consequences—just as the aforementioned first grade field trip was occurring.

Anyone who believes that public schools won’t take the defeat of Proposition 8 as a signal to aggressively promote a “King and King” educational agenda is also probably unaware of the million dollars donated by the California Teachers Association to oppose Prop 8.

Unfortunately, students in public school won’t be the only casualties of calling black, “white”. Children throughout the state will also be victims—along with freedom of conscience.


Anonymous said...

I understand that marriage has obvious "reproductive consequences" that have no counterpart in same-sex marriages, but your argument about fidelity seemed unfounded. Fidelity is an expression of love and loyalty that holds meaning outside the context of children. Why can sexual fidelity not remain at the heart of same-sex marriage?

RKirk said...

My point is that the consequences of infidelity in same-sex relationships don't have and can never have the huge consequences they have in male-female relationships. Consequently, it is reasonable to suspect that infidelity will be viewed and treated as less important in gay relationship. Various gay spokespersons, including Andrew Sullivan, have made this point. Below are some relevant comments:

"Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) states, 'being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality, and family, and in the process, transforming the very fabric of society.'

In his book, 'Virtually Normal,' gay writer Andrew Sullivan contrasts heterosexual marriage with same sex marriage and explains, 'there is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man an a woman' (p202).

In the online 'Encyclopedia of Aids' the article on monogamy talks about gay relationships, there being an agreement of 'emotional monogamy,' meaning that partners give each other permission to have sex outside the relationship provided the emotional integrity of the relationship is not threatened. Gay couples often use 'monogamy' to mean 'emotional monogamy.' But such a differentiation illustrates that 'monogamy' in same sex marriages is not what it means in heterosexual marriages.

Gay activist, Michelangelo Signorile, states (OUT magazine, May 1996, p.30), 'Rather than being transformed by the institution of marriage, gay men could simply transform the institution itself, making it more sexually open, even influencing their heterosexual counterparts.'"

The bottom line is that marriage would never exist as a significant social institution if it weren't for children. Making marriage include a class of relationships for which child-bearing is impossible serves to further shift the meaning of marriage (as it has been shifting for years under the "romantic" vision of Hollywood) away from what has been and should be its primary focus--child-rearing.