What Gays and Lesbians Are Teaching Us about Marriage: Soul Seeing

Article excerpt

Twenty years ago my colleague Frank and I were having a smoke on the fire escape of our Crossroad offices in midtown Manhattan. Frank was challenging the arguments of churchmen who were fuming at the new phenomenon of gay couples trying to adopt children. "What's so bad about that?" he wanted to know. "Why can't gays have families like everybody else?"

"I don't know," I said. "But don't you think it's better for a kid to have a mother and father when they're growing up?"

Frank flicked an ash over the railing. "You straights have been getting divorced and screwing up kids for centuries," he said. "What makes you think we could do any worse?"

I had no answer.

Now 20 years later--with thousands of children growing up healthy in same-sex households and with more than 70 episodes of "Modern Family" in the bag, I no longer smoke and I stand with a majority of Americans who are beginning to understand that gay and lesbian marriage is not an aberration but an affirmation of traditional values (ABC News Poll, July 2011). Many gays and lesbians simply desire what their parents had, or could have had: fidelity, commitment, companionship, and mutual gratitude for their daily bread. They know that life is tough enough to get through alone. Like anyone who finds loving compatibility with another, gays want to partake in the good of God with a soul mate.

My friend Frank knew: Gays and lesbians just want what is good and beautiful and true. And Paul hit the right note when he sang, "What's wrong with that?"

Another Frank, Frank Bruni, adds this note in The. New York Times (Feb. 21): "In the intensifying debate over same-sex marriage, what I sometimes find hardest to understand is why so many opponents don't see gay people's longing to be wedded as the fundamentally conservative, lavishly complimentary desire it is."

Equally old-fashioned is the desire of an adult couple to share the good of God with children of God, especially when so many children are born out of wedlock with no family at all. It is the nature of love to expand and spread like light across the universe. Love manifests itself in shining acts of compassion and generosity.

The debate over same-sex marriage leads us to examine the very meaning of marriage. When half of all straight unions end in divorce, gays and lesbians are in the process of teaching us something about the substance of marriage that we have forgotten or taken for granted. …