Do please forgive me if I’m boring you, because I know I’ve written on this subject twice before. To be honest, even I don’t think that gay marriage is up there with environmental degradation and nuclear proliferation in the pantheon of things we should be most urgently fretting about, but the issue does seem to have an extraordinary ability to part people on all sides from any sense of proportion, or indeed, of any sense of sense.
For those who believe simply that gay marriage is an abomination in the eyes of Almighty God, and then leave it at that, I have some respect even if no scintilla of agreement. But the opponents of gay marriage seem far too embarrassed just to leave it at that, and instead feel constrained to make up all sorts of other spurious and, frankly, scaremongering additional objections. None of them, it seems to me, stand up to scrutiny.
So here’s a canter through some of the most often advanced additional reasons, beyond that of God’s personal displeasure, and why they make little or no sense.
- That gay marriage will somehow make it impossible to bring children up properly in future. Aside from the rather obvious point that we don’t seem, as a society, to be doing a very good job of bringing up children properly now anyway, without gay marriage, this seems the strawriest of straw men. How exactly will the fact that some gay men and women are married impact on how I bring up my children in my heterosexual marriage? Will it be the embarrassment of having to explain these same-sex couples to my children during the supermarket run? If avoiding parental embarrassment were central to successful child-rearing, then sex education would disappear overnight. Insofar as this argument has any coherent basis, it generally seems to be something to do with making it more likely that the off-spring of unsuccessful heterosexual relationships will find themselves coerced into gay ones. Well, if that’s so bad, it happens now anyway. How will being coerced into a gay marriage be any more damaging than coercion into a gay civil partnership? The same argument applies to gay couples adopting. If it’s so wicked, why will it be more wicked if the couple is married?
- That society is founded on marriage between a man and a woman, and to extend the concept to gay couples will knock society’s struts from under it. I happen to be a supporter of marriage (now – I haven’t always been) but if too few marriages are threatening society’s cohesion, I should have thought that adding more marriages would be a good thing. I fail entirely to see how permitting gay marriage would undermine heterosexual marriage. As a heterosexual married man, why would the sight of gay married men, for example, make me more likely to be unfaithful, or to abuse my wife? Were I to be tempted to gay unfaithfulness, then perhaps the knowledge that I was also threatening someone’s marriage might give me greater pause. Hang on, I’m starting to give this notion more credibility than it deserves. I’m not tempted to gay unfaithfulness largely because I’m not gay.
- That it’s OK to have heterosexual marriage, and gay civil partnerships, but calling them all marriage will cause the heavens to fall. I rather doubt it. But the fear that it may do is based on an old misunderstanding – that equality between things is tantamount to saying that they are the same thing. That’s not true. To say that gay people and heterosexuals are equal in being married is not to suggest that gay relationships and heterosexual relationships have mysteriously become the same thing. A pound of carrots is equal to a pound of potatoes, but carrots are not potatoes. Gay and heterosexual marriages would be equal, but not the same.
- That allowing gay marriage is simply a giving-in to selfish demands for the indulging and normalising of sexual perversion. This is the crux, actually. This is why the opponents of gay marriage are so vulnerable to the charge that they are simply homophobic. Once the legitimacy of gay sexual attraction is conceded, then all the other objections melt away. No less an authority on the subject of sexual desire than St Paul himself accepted that it is better to marry than to burn.
Thus there are only two real objections to gay marriage, and they are often merged together. God is implacably opposed to it, and/or homosexuality is a filthy perversion anyway. Either or both of those is an honest position to take. If you believe those things, say so and be damned. But don’t witter on about society, bringing up children, or changing what has always hitherto been understood as the nature of marriage. Just stick to your guns, and I’ll stick to mine.