A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
June 24th, 2011
By Seth Forman
New York State, the media report with poorly disguised elation, is set to legally redefine marriage to include relationships between two same-sex adults.
Before this happens, people of good conscience, supporters and opponents both, should at least be given the opportunity to consider the possible consequences.
1. Religious freedom. Proponents of gay marriage think their view is the latest expression of enlightened humanitarianism. That means people who believe in the sanctity of traditional marriage may soon wind up on the wrong side of “enlightened” bigotry.
A recent Newsday editorial said opponents “will be seen by future generations in much the same light as those who opposed school desegregation.” Devout Catholics, Orthodox Jews and, ironically, the 70% of African-Americans who oppose gay marriage have become the new Ku Klux Klan?
Proponents of gay marriage insist that a “religious exemption” will be sufficient to protect the rights of faith-based traditionalists. Maybe, maybe not.
2. Rights of children. Legal equality for gay marriage will mean there can be no discrimination in favor of heterosexual couples in any sphere, including adoption, custody and reproductive services. Social workers showing preference to heterosexual couples in foster care or adoption placement will lose their jobs or face lawsuits.
More children living in gay homes means more children living lives absent a relationship with at least one biological parent. One needn’t deny the existence of many wonderful gay or adoptive parents to acknowledge that this will result in some emotional pain and confusion.
3. Whither traditional marriage? Gay marriage may, as its proponents insist, strengthen the ideal of marriage by offering the highest public acceptance only to those in committed relationships.
But even gay activists admit they are seeking to change the marriage ideal. Eliminating the complementarity of the sexes in marriage changes its essence. It may be old-fashioned to believe women are still necessary to domesticate sexually predatory men. But most social arrangements in which men operate without attachment to women are deeply dysfunctional. Many gay advocates tacitly admit as much.
Andrew Sullivan, in his book “Virtually Normal,” writes that the need for “extramarital outlets” should be recognized by partners in a same-sex marriage, and that gays should not be constrained by a “single, moralistic model.”
4. Education. It is possible the social impact of gay marriage on heterosexual marriage will be negligible. But the changes it will bring to our schools make this unlikely. A California task force appointed in 2001 recommended all curriculums there be changed to include alternative sexual lifestyles. In 2006, a federal judge in Massachusetts ruled that schools have a duty to teach children that there’s moral equivalency between homosexual and heterosexual relationships – and have no obligation to let parents opt their children out of such instruction.
5. Husbands. Federal Judge Vaughn Walker‘s ruling in August on California’s Proposition 8 – that “gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage” – confirmed the view that marriage is foremost about sexual choice, not reproduction. Think there are too few marriageable males now?
Ask sociologist Orlando Patterson what happens when men are no longer tied to marriage through child rearing. He attributes high out-of-wedlock birthrates among African-Americans to the history of slavery, job discrimination and the welfare state, all of which separated black men from the expectation of secure paternity.
These are just a few examples of how putting gay unions on a legal par with heterosexual ones may radically alter our culture. We should not be deluded into believing that nothing will change.
(This article was first published at NYDailyNews.com.)
Seth Forman is the author of the new book American Obsession: Race and Conflict in the Age of Obama (Booklocker 2011).
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