gay marriageThe other day, there were two articles in my news feed back to back, which displayed diametrically opposing viewpoints to the issue of same-sex marriage, and I’ll write about them here, in the order in which they were in my feed. The first is a woman’s account of how attending a same-sex wedding ceremony, impacted her own marriage. The latter, is an article by Jennifer Thieme Johnson of the Ruth Institute, an anti-LGBT/ anti- same-sex marriage organization which used to be affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

The differences between these two perspectives is unbelievable, and demonstrates both why the Extreme Religious Right is losing, and why the issue is so tumultuous. You can’t reason with crazy, so there is no reasoning with the extreme. Let me pull out some quotes from each and then some commentary to follow.

The first was a post to Huffington Post Gay Voices by Stephanie Schroeder. I may be misrepresenting Stephanie when I describe her as Christian, and if that is wrong I apologize. But she speaks about a traditional view of marriage as sacred in a way that implies a religious appreciation.

Article One

How Attending a Gay Wedding Impacted My Straight Marriage

In fact, if asked to cite an impact this same-sex ceremony did have on my traditional marriage, I would (first, go on a rant about why the term “traditional marriage” is ridiculous, and secondly) disclose that being a witness to same-sex matrimony actually strengthened my own marriage.

I would also encourage anyone who currently considers him/herself to belong in a traditional marriage to attend a same-sex ceremony. Because if there’s one thing witnessing a marriage that is illegal in more than half of U.S. states can remind you of, it’s that weddings are so much more than diamonds, DJs and décor.

Weddings mark the start of a shared union — a lifelong partnership between two people who have chosen to make binding promises to one another. Promises that often involve agreeing to work on the marriage when it needs to be worked on and to fight for it when it needs to be fought for.

The bolding above was mine, added for emphasis. I encourage you to read her whole post as it is very good.

Article Two

An Open Letter to The Huffington Post’s Melanie Batley on How Gay Marriage Undermines Traditional Marriage

A contrasting article was post to Christian Post by Jennifer Thieme Johnson of the Ruth Institute. She writes this “Open Letter” in reply to Melanie Batley’s post on Huffington Post. It is condescending and full of wonky logic, and epitomizes the mindset and foul arguments against same-sex marriage which are really counter to a conservative viewpoint.

You said that you haven’t found a conservative to “give you a satisfactory answer” as to “how gay marriage tangibly undermines traditional marriage arrangements.” That’s unfortunate, and I’m not very surprised. However, this kind of answer is the kind of answer we specialize in here at the Ruth Institute (which by the way is no longer part of NOM).

Jennifer’s first point: Same-sex marriage proponents don’t understand how the legalization of same-sex marriage affects legal codes surrounding marriage:

 Before I answer, let me pose a question, Melanie. Have you researched the precise manner in which gay marriage is implemented into the legal code? I would like to make a prediction: that you have not done this research. Very few have. What I have observed, instead, is that gay marriage supporters make an assumption. Their assumption goes like this: That gay marriage is simply added to the legal code, alongside “straight” marriage. In other words, they assume that the legal definition of “straight” marriage remains intact.

This made me chuckle. No same-sex marriage advocate believes that the legal code is changed to add gay marriage along side straight marriage, because there is no such thing as straight marriage. There is marriage, pure and simple. What gets changed is language in the code which unconstitutionally denies the rights and privileges of marriage to a group of people based on a factor where the state has no place nor reason deny those rights.

But here is the word game of the anti-LGBT bigots. Traditional marriage, straight marriage, gendered marriage, nuclear marriage- these ideas are interchanged as if they are the same and as if they have specific meaning or worth. Underneath it is a belief that there must be a legal government support for rigid gender roles in a marriage. In other words, this view suggests there are ways for men to be in marriage and ways for women to be in marriage. When this is dissected further, it is based on an unsubstantiated claim that children need a father and a mother. Science and the data says otherwise.

And here is the magician’s sleight of hand. Jennifer claimed to be ready to counter the idea that same-sex marriage undermines traditional marriages. But she can’t and she knows it. The best she can do is deflect and try and change the subject:

So the next question that I hope has entered your mind is this: what is that ONE law? How is “straight” marriage changed? Let’s look at what “straight” marriage means, legally.

Allowing same-sex marriage removes language in the legal code which creates rigid gender categories of male/husband and female/wife. But that in and of itself doesn’t say anything about how traditional marriages are undermined. A marriage is still a union between two consenting adults. In a same-sex marriage, these are of the same sex and in an opposite sex marriage, they are not.

“Straight” marriage really means, “Marriage law based on sex differences.” Under “straight” marriage, the state formally recognizes the sex differences of “male” and “female.” These are biological categories, which are based on the scientific reality of human reproduction. Thus, under “straight” marriage law, there is only one kind of couple.

The funny part is, you won’t find a single legal code which says “straight marriage.”

Jennifer’s other point is to slam Melanie Batley. Melanie said:

As a Christian conservative, I entirely agree, and we must do everything possible to promote marriage and reverse the trend [of the decline of marriage].

Here’s Jennifer’s problem, and the problem for anyone trying to advocate against same-sex marriage. The fact that gays and lesbians want to have the legal recognition of their long term committed relationships is not in any way connected to what has been causing any decline to marriage. The divorce rate for straight marriages is 40% for a first marriage and as high as 73% for a third marriage! The elements which lead to divorce are characterized as :

Divorce rates all across the globe have been rising rapidly owing to certain problems like incompatibility between couples, infidelity issues, lack of trust and understanding, and financial pressures. It is sad to observe the rising divorce rate across the world and see marriages breaking.

Same-sex marriage is not on the list of causes, which speaks to Melanie Batley’s base claim. We need to promote marriage and reverse the trend. Indeed not every same-sex marriage will last any more than every opposite sex marriage lasts. But Stephanioes point in the first article speaks to this- couples who had had to work so hard to get married, are likely doing it for all the right reasons and are likely to remain in a committed relationship.

Jennifer Johnson and bigots like her are so fixated on the fact that about three percent of the population want legal recognition of their long term committed relationships, that they are blind to the 40% of straight couples who are the decline of marriage. Jennifer and people like her are working so hard to maintain special rights for straight people that they are doing nothing to build and support the sanctity of marriage.

 Two stories- one bottom line.

Gays and Lesbians have been forming couples and building lives and families together for a very long time, but the ability to form  families has grown since the 1940’s or so. These same-sex couples already exist, many with children, and today they seek an end to the legal boundaries which have stopped their families and relationships from receiving the same legal protections and support of opposite sex couples and families. Many of these couples have stayed together many years. My partner and I for example, have been together for 17 years.

While states have the power (and the right) to regulate marriage, they may not impinge upon person’s constitutionally protected rights unless there are sound, meaningful benefits to the State or to Society as a whole. Opponents to same-sex marriage have been able to offer no compelling rationale for banning same-sex marriage except to try and create this false argument that to do so would redefine marriage.

The reality is that same-sex marriage can be a benefit and support for the entire institution of marriage by returning the focus of a wedding back to what’s important: the willingness and commitment of two individuals to form a life together. I’ll close by suggesting that contrary to Jennifer’s dilutions, same-sex couples are doing more to promote marriage and strengthen the institution of marriage! This is evidenced in the first linked post by Stephanie- a woman who found attending a marriage for a same-sex couple strengthened her own marriage to her opposite sex partner.

I do not use the word “bigot” much as I don’t believe it helps promote dialogue, even if it is apt and accurate. But I can’t help but employ it here.


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