Since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, same sex marriage is less of a federal issue and more of an issue on the state level and, of course, in the courts. Few candidates address the issue on their websites. However, a few people have asked for my views so I will post a statement. We should all welcome the tone that Pope Francis has brought to this issue.
One of the reasons that passing same sex marriage in Illinois stalled several times was because of the efforts of a group of conservative Chicago Democrats. I would consider myself one of those Democrats who support traditional marriage.
America is a very liberal society – “liberal” meaning that we highly value protecting personal liberties. Gay and lesbian Americans are valued, contributing members of our communities and should be as free to pursue their relationships and associations as any other person is free to do.
I value a pluralistic society where varied lifestyles and views coexist, learn from each other, and even compete with each other. I supported ending “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.” in the 2010 primary in the 11th district. (Illinois Family Institute 2010 candidate’s questionnaire)
Supporting traditional marriage as public policy should not infringe on gay and lesbian individual liberties of free association. But, recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman does deny a legal framework for same sex relationships.
Definition of Marriage
Changing marriage to include same sex unions is not so much expanding the definition of marriage as it is innovating a new social institution. If we change the sexual component of marriage (opposite sexes), on what basis can one deny someone who wants to change the numerical component of marriage (two people)?
How do we not eventually go to where the Green Party of a few of years ago wanted to go (polyamory – marriage of any combination of individuals – or polygamy)? There is already a movement, including people whose names most people would recognize, called “Beyond Same Sex Marriage”. They advocate that any individuals living in a household be eligible to be considered “married” under family law.
To most of us, such fringe possibilities as these hardly seem worth worrying about. But on what basis can one deny further innovations to marriage if we begin by changing the sexual component of marriage?
Marriage and Family
Aside from potential further changes to marriage, what is most concerning about same sex marriage is that many of these unions will raise children. The concern is not that same sex parents will be any less diligent and loving parents than a mother and father. The concern is that the child is deprived of either a mother or father.
There have always been children raised without both a mother and father. Thankfully, many grow to be successful, productive adults. But their lives are deprived. They have a disadvantage to overcome.
When children are adopted into same sex (or single parent) families, they are disadvantaged by intent rather than by circumstances. They are deprived of having both male and female role models, deprived of the distinctive care of either a mother or a father.
To be sure, a healthy same sex family can be said to be a better home for a child than a dysfunctional mother/father family. But, all other things being equal, putting a child into a same sex family is intentionally introducing a disadvantage into that child’s life.
Marriage and Law
There are other unfortunate and even bizarre aspects and proposals associated with same sex marriage:
Legalizing same sex marriage gives every indication of promoting discrimination against individuals and groups who oppose same sex marriage. (e.g. the state of Illinois canceling foster care and adoption contracts with Catholic Charities)
California is considering requiring health insurance to cover infertility treatments for same sex couples.
Massachusetts and California have experimented with prohibiting the use of the terms mother and father in their schools.
The procedure for regulating same sex marriages has been to simply apply laws for traditional marriage to same sex marriages. This includes prohibitions against marriage between first cousins and siblings. However, there is no genetic health rationale for disallowing sibling and extended family same sex marriages. This introduces a degree of incoherence into marriage law since it fails to recognize there are some differences between same sex and heterosexual marriages.