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Gay Marriage

May 23, 2007

by Melbo

I would like our society to see civil unions and marriage as two distinct types of unions which, while securing legal equality for both, do not blur the real differences that distinguish them. I have no problem with a civil union in which the couple enjoys all the legal benefits of married couples. I don’t agree with claims that if gay unions were permitted then they would somehow infiltrate and corrupt our culture. I can’t reason that there is anything horrifyingly objectionable to a same sex couple dedicating their lives each other. To the contrary, I feel that as a society we should embrace that type of devotion and encourage monogamous relationships. I do however feel that marriage is distinct from civil unions, that it is fundamentally a religious institution in which God sanctifies the relationship between a man and a woman.

As a Mormon who accepts the idea of civil unions, I am in the minority. A lady at church, who happens to be in the relief society, moderates a listserv for all the LDS women she knows, mostly consisting of women in our ward. Last fall, a woman in that group sent along an email regarding the upcoming vote to add an amendment to our state constitution banning gay marriage. I was personally opposed to the amendment on the grounds that it didn’t allow for civil unions. In the email she offered “vote yes” signs to all that desired one and went on to emphasize the importance of doing so. I was shocked to receive something so political from a semi-church affiliated group, although there were not as many complaints as I thought there would be.

As for how well a homosexual couple would perform as parents, it’s not something we can predict. I’m willing to bet most of their children will emerge from their youth unscathed and perfectly “normal”. If they didn’t, I would tend to think it’s a result of the intolerance of others. Of course there will always be the occasional report of abuse, but I do not believe that most gay men and women choose to live their lifestyle out of promiscuity and would therefore be a danger to children. Besides, given their record, are hetero parents necessarily more trustworthy? I’m not convinced.

Writing this post has made me realize how much it bothers me that the issue of what is moral is decided by the majority. I’m uncomfortable with the knowledge that morality is constantly being put up to a vote. It makes me wonder just how long it will take for the pendulum to swing the other way. For example, although it is not a moral issue, just a century ago the majority didn’t want women to vote and now we have one running for president. There are some out there who can’t fathom how those feminists got what they wanted. Feminism was and still is a big issue, and issues like these don’t just die. People will continue to fight about gay marriage and civil unions until long after they’re embraced by the majority – if that ever happens.

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5 comments

  1. I’m opposed to gay marriage and civil unions because of the children. Don’t assume I’m saying gay parents will harm children or abuse them. Rather read why I’ve taken this position.

    My position is rooted both in morality and in what is best for society. Children deserve both a mother and a father. From a moral perspective, it’s clear from the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” what the Church’s stand is on this.

    I also believe it’s best for society that children be raised by heterosexual parents. It’s incontrovertible that two loving, mature heterosexual parents will be more effective in raising children than two equally loving, mature homosexual parents, all other things being equal (in other words, no comments citing poor heterosexual parenting–exceptions don’t disprove the rule). Because children are the future of society, it’s in society’s best interest to provide them with an environment where they are most likely to learn how to be productive adults given their gender and proper spouses and parents themselves. Men and women are biologically different. A mother will be better positioned than a father to help a girl grow and deal in a healthy and proper manner with the changes that occur in females. The same goes for males. Nobody can argue, for example, that a little girl beginning her first period would rather have a loving mother than a loving father to help her.

    This is NOT to say that homosexual parents can’t be good, loving, effective parents. They can be, are, and have been. However, the rule is that two loving, mature heterosexual parents will be more effective at raising children than two equally loving, mature homosexual given their gender differences.

    Another reason why gay parenting is not the best option for society is that it teaches the children that mothers and fathers are dispensable. For example, a boy being raised by lesbian parents will grow up believing that fathers are not needed by children. Given that belief, the boy will have less reason to stay with his wife and children if he’s unhappy. Also, the boy will have less reason to withhold sex until after marriage because he won’t be as concerned about a child coming into the world with just a mother. And it’s clear that it’s preferable for society that children be raised by two parents. Some recent studies have shown that children grow up dealing with more challenges when raised by single parents. That’s not to say that single parents can’t be good and loving parents. It just shows that the odds increase that children will become adults with societal problems when they’re raised by single parents.

    Because I’m opposed to gay parenting of children, I have to oppose gay marriage. I also oppose anything like it (e.g., civil unions) which could eventually provide gay parents with the legal right to adopt children.

    I would certainly like to encourage more monogamous relationships. Doing so would lead to fewer societal problems like STDs. However, that benefit is less important than the benefit of children being raised by mothers and fathers.


  2. “It’s incontrovertible that two loving, mature heterosexual parents will be more effective in raising children than two equally loving, mature homosexual parents, all other things being equal”

    Do we really know this to be the case? It is something I often hear cited, but I don’t know why or how we know this? Has anyone done a study or something?

    “Nobody can argue, for example, that a little girl beginning her first period would rather have a loving mother than a loving father to help her.”

    Why not? Wouldn’t the individual relationships matter just as much here as biology? There are a lot of givens in this argument that I am not sure should be taken as givens.

    “That’s not to say that single parents can’t be good and loving parents. It just shows that the odds increase that children will become adults with societal problems when they’re raised by single parents.”

    Of course, we don’t legislate to prevent single parents from raising their children either. Should we do that in the interest of fairness?


  3. Melbo – An honest, from-the-heart, and thought-provoking post.

    David – I agree with some points you make, but I don’t quite understand the logic of your opposition to gay parenting serving as the basis for your opposition to gay marriage.

    First up, my points of agreement. While I can’t claim to have seen many studies on the matter, some part of me believes that being raised by both a father and a mother in a healthy married relationship is the ideal developmental circumstance for a child. I attribute my views here to several things, including my assumptions (1) children raised by gay and lesbian couples will likely face difficult developmental challenges as they fend of social stigma growing up in gay families and (2) children raised by gays and lesbians will be less likely to share my values on range of issues like, as you point out, sex outside of marriage, and they will very likely be less receptive to the gospel.

    Now onto my issues. To begin with, I think Melbo’s right in saying that we really don’t have anything to point to to claim gays and lesbians wouldn’t be good parents or raise good, caring children (some recent studies have even purported to show that these children seem to be well-adjusted). Next, gays and lesbians are already both adopting and having their own children. Prohibitions on gay marriage aren’t going to open any floodgates there in my mind. Those gay couples who want children are having them or adopting them anyway, and there’s not much we can do about it (nor should we be trying to in my mind). Regarding natural children, Government certainly isn’t going to step in and take children away from a lesbian mother or a gay father either born to them directly or through surrogates. Regarding adoption, many states (1) allow adoption by single parents and (2) have no prohibitions on gay adoption. At a time when we have more than a half million kids in foster care, to deny gay couples the ability to adopt doesn’t seem to make much sense to me when we have indisputable proof that growing up in foster care detrimentally affects children’s lives in a variety of ways. The idea that allowing gay marriage will significantly increase the number of children raised by gay couples above current levels or expected future levels doesn’t seem like an obvious logical step to me, so I’m perplexed at that alone being your justification. Lastly, I think there are a lot of strong arguments for civil unions. I see nothing wrong with giving gay and lesbian couples who enter into legally recognized unions the various legal rights and benefits accorded to married couples, including the right to make medical decisions on each other’s behalf, visitation rights in hospitals, inheritance rights, etc.


  4. “Do we really know this to be the case? It is something I often hear cited, but I don’t know why or how we know this? Has anyone done a study or something?”

    Yes.

    All recent studies indicate that gay couples are equally, *if not more* beneficial to the welfare of their children.

    American Psychological Association

    http://www.apa.org/pi/parent.html

    And from Canada:

    http://www.canada.com/topics/bodyandhealth/story.html?id=56c4d812-2c73-4c1a-986c-395c7b4ae1a1&k=24128&p=1


  5. I totally agree. I wrote a paper on a similar topic in a philosophy class at BYU, and we also had a girl who lived with us from New Haven whose parents were lesbians (some of the most committed parents I know). It’s reassuring to see that there are other people in the church (besides those in my immediate family-though you are technically immediate) who aren’t afraid to talk about these kinds of issues.



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