While Ground Zero may have become ground zero in the endless struggle for equal protection under the law, the skirmish in California over same-sex marriage slogs on like World War I’s Battle at Verdun.
Every day there’s news about the appeal of Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to overturn the California ban on gay marriage. Today I want to talk about an argument that the opponents of same-sex marriage (AKA the proponents of Proposition 8, which was the law the good Judge overturned) have been giving as a major reason to oppose allowing people of the same sex to marry: “that the state has an interest in promoting responsible procreation through heterosexual marriages which would be harmed if gay marriages were permitted.”
The argument is specious because the existence of gay marriage does nothing to harm responsible procreation, and in fact may lead to a slight increase in more responsible procreation.
Let’s say you believe that responsible procreation can only occur in a heterosexual marriage: What difference does it make to you then if people of the same sex marry? Does anyone really believe that heterosexuals will stampede to gay marriage just because it’s available?
Now to the argument that the presence of same-sex marriages in society would be a bad influence on children: that’s pretty absurd. There is always a difference between the values of every home and those of our diverse society. Good parents do a good job of instilling their values in their children. Let me give you the example of our home when my ex-wife and I were raising my son: We actively spoke against tattoos, which are not allowed under Jewish law. No Disney book, movie or TV was permitted. We frowned on guns and didn’t allow any toy weaponry (until he got some giant soakers as a teen). We also frowned on gambling. To many Americans, some or all of these choices will seem odd, but we made them and they stuck, as my son has no tattoos, doesn’t gamble or carry a gun and is completely uninterested in virtually all manufactured entertainment. In a similar way, a parent against same-sex marriage can instill those beliefs into their children, and if done with love quite effectively; but be forewarned, if your child is GLBT, it may not take.
Let’s assume that the essence of responsible procreation is responsible parenting. Would allowing gay marriage lead to less responsible parenting? It is true that the more same-sex marriages there are, the more children, natural or adopted, will be raised in homes in which both parents are of the same sex. But virtually all responsible studies on the issue of gay parenting show that children of gays grow up the same as children of heterosexual parents in every way. That means they are no more or less likely to excel in what they do, no more or less likely to get into trouble, no more or less likely to be gay. In other words, by allowing same-sex marriage, we increase the potential pool of responsible parents, and therefore the possibility of more responsible procreation.
Besides, procreation is not the only reason to marry: Among heterosexuals, there are plenty of marriages of convenience, marriages based on financial considerations and marriages in name only. I know a number of happily married heterosexuals who have decided not to have children. It’s their right, and that’s fine with me, and it should be fine with everyone else, too.
There are plenty of people that believe that homosexuality is a sin against their deity, and these people have a right not to marry people of the same sex in their churches, synagogues and mosques. But we live in a secular country in which everyone is equal under the law. Our state-performed marriages are civil, not religious ceremonies. Now I see nothing wrong with the state validating marriages of religions which do not allow same-sex marriage. By the same token, though, there is no reason that the state—which means our national, state and local governments—should have any bans on same-sex marriage.
It’s going to take a few more years, but I believe that eventually all the legal bans on same-sex marriage will fall in all states. And after that, I predict that we will see religious organizations start to accept it more, as they seek to keep up with the changing times. Conservatives have been quite successful turning back the clock on unionism and equitable distribution of wealth in America. They’ve slowed things down considerably when it comes to matters of global warming and environmental protection. I don’t know what will happen on these very important issues. But when it comes to allowing same-sex marriage, I am very confident that victory is close at hand.