Magazine article The American Conservative

Divorced from Reality: Don't Blame the Gays for the Decline of Marriage. (Culture)

Magazine article The American Conservative

Divorced from Reality: Don't Blame the Gays for the Decline of Marriage. (Culture)

Article excerpt

DEFENDERS OF MARRIAGE must face some hard facts or they are going to lose their fight--and with it, quite possibly, their religious freedom as well. Federal judge Vaughn Walker's ruling nullifying Proposition 8 in California illustrates that, unless we can demonstrate very specific reasons why same-sex marriage is socially destructive, it will soon be the law of the land.

With conservatives as prominent as Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter joining those "influential Americans," in the words of the National Review, who "have been coming increasingly to regard opposition to same-sex marriage as irrational at best and bigoted at worst," we can no longer rely on vague assertions that homosexual marriage weakens true marriage in some way--which in itself, actually, it does not.

Considerable nonsense has been written by some opponents of same-sex marriage, while some critical truths are not being heard. Confronting the facts can enable us to win not only this battle but several even more important ones involving family decline and the social anomie it produces.

First: Marriage exists primarily to cement the father to the family. This fact is politically incorrect but undeniable. The breakdown of marriage produces widespread fatherlessness, not motherlessness. As Margaret Mead pointed out long ago--yes, leftist Margaret Mead was correct about this--motherhood is a biological certainty whereas fatherhood is socially constructed. The father is the weakest link in the family bond, and without the institution of marriage he is easily discarded.

The consequences of failing to link men to their offspring are apparent the world over. From our inner cities and Native American reservations to the north of England, the banlieues of Paris, and much of Africa, fatherlessness--not poverty or race--is the leading predictor of virtually every social pathology among the young. Without fathers, adolescents run wild, and society descends into chaos.

The notion that marriage exists for love or "to express and safeguard an emotional union of adults," as one proponent puts it, is cant. Many loving and emotional human relationships do not involve marriage. Even the conservative argument that marriage exists to rear children is too imprecise: marriage creates fatherhood. No marriage, no fathers.

Once this principle is recognized, same-sex marriage makes no sense. Judge Walker's "finding of fact" that "gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage" is rendered preposterous. Marriage between two men or two women simply mocks the purpose of the institution. Homosexual parenting only further distances biological fathers (and some mothers too) from their children, since at least some homosexual parents must acquire their children from someone else--usually through heterosexual divorce.

Here is the second unpleasant truth: homosexuals did not destroy marriage, heterosexuals did. The demand for same-sex marriage is a symptom, not a cause, of the deterioration of marriage. By far the most direct threat to the family is heterosexual divorce. "Commentators miss the point when they oppose homosexual marriage on the grounds that it would undermine traditional understandings of marriage," writes family scholar Bryce Christensen. "It is only because traditional understandings of marriage have already been severely undermined that homosexuals are now laying claim to it."

Though gay activists cite their desire to marry as evidence that their lifestyle is not inherently promiscuous, they readily admit that marriage is no longer the barrier against promiscuity that it once was. If the standards of marriage have already been lowered, they ask, why shouldn't homosexuals be admitted to the institution?

"The world of no-strings heterosexual hookups and 50% divorce rates preceded gay marriage," Andrew Sullivan points out. "All homosexuals are saying ... is that, under the current definition, there's no reason to exclude us. …

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