i'm a heterosexual man who believes that most gays are homosexual by
nature. Therefore, I believe that gays should be accorded the same rights
and moral approbation as everyone else. But I'm also persuaded
that the campaign for same-sex "marriage" is politically misguided,
socially destructive and bound to fail.
The campaign for same-sex marriage is rooted in the same elitist principles that have
already created powerful backlashes on issues like abortion and prayer in
the schools. With same-sex marriage, gay activists are trying to force an issue
that is radical, deeply personal and profoundly divisive through the most
arbitrary and undemocratic avenue of government available: the liberal
courts. Knowing that today they would lose this battle in the legislative
arena -- the popular assemblies where the electorate has a say
-- gays decided to use the judiciary to ram through their proposed
revolutionary change in an institution that is not only thousands of years
old, but generally regarded as the cornerstone of civil society.
Had they succeeded, a case decided by courts in Hawaii (itself an overwhelmingly
liberal state) would automatically have become law throughout the entire United
States, not only in other liberal enclaves like Minnesota and
Massachusetts but in conservative strongholds like Utah, Wyoming and the Bible
Belt South. A slap in the face was inevitable, and gays got one, in spades,
when their erstwhile friend in the White House signed the
"defense of marriage" act allowing states to ban same-sex marriage.
It's not that their cause is without merit. Andrew Sullivan, the gay former editor of the New Republic, wrote a most intelligent argument for it in his book "Virtually Normal." And in the preface to his newly published reader "Same-Sex
Marriage: Pro and Con," Sullivan appeals to
conservatives to endorse gay marriage. His reasoning: that it will strengthen the values of commitment and family in the gay community -- which is surely a good thing for society as a whole.
I think many conservative Americans would agree with
Andrew that society has an interest in promoting stability and monogamy in gay
households, particularly in the age of AIDS. I also think most Americans would like to see gays enjoy some of the partnership rights that go with marriage. One that has often been cited is visitation rights for loved ones in hospitals.
But these benefits could be achieved by something other than gay marriage.
There is even a legal term for it: "domestic partnership" or
"registered partnership," which grants state or local recognition of
committed gay relationships but stops short of transferring all the
entitlements associated with marriage -- which have evolved over hundreds of years with heterosexual and child-rearing couples in mind -- in one sudden, unreflective act.
Why is this not enough for
Sullivan? Because not only should marriage, like voting, be a basic civil right open to all, but same-sex marriage would signal a complete acceptance of
homosexuality by American society. "No other measure would signal approval
in such a stark and unambiguous way," he writes. "(Heterosexuals) are prepared to tolerate, yes, even, in some ways, approve. But they are not yet ready to say that their heterosexual relationships are equivalent to homosexual ones."
But that is the reality, Andrew. Homosexual relationships are not "equivalent" to heterosexual ones, any more than men are equivalent to women. At bottom,
what gays like Sullivan seem to desire is that they be regarded as "normal" by the
majority that defines what normal is. But how can that be when "coming out," being "gay and proud" and a heightened sexuality are the defining traits of gay society?
Even within its own natural family, the gay child is destined to be different. The heterosexual parent of a gay child can surely love that child equally with its
heterosexual siblings; but can it really regard that child as "equivalent
to," no different than a child created in its own heterosexual image?
Perhaps the gay community can learn something from the
Jews. Try as some of them might, Jews will never be regarded as entirely "normal" in a predominantly Christian society. That doesn't seem to have stopped their progress.
Being different, even "abnormal," within the culture of the majority -- be it Christian, heterosexual or European extraction -- is not such a terrible thing. In fact, it's the American way.