Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

In the wake of the New York Legislature’s decision to pass the so-called “Marriage Equality Act,” there has been a renewed discussion among homosexual activists over whether they really ought to be pursuing an institution historically rife with “heterosexual” values such as exclusivity, fidelity, commitment, and monogamy.

“I felt pretty ambivalent, I have to say,” said one celebrant, who a CNN reporter described as a “cross-dresser,” about the New York vote:

“It’s definitely not something I’m unhappy about.” But he wondered about the appropriateness of only extending new rights to gay people who embraced the specific model of heterosexual marriage. “Of course there are many other kinds of relationships, especially within queer culture, whether it’s open relationships or nonsexual companionship or polyamorous relationships. These nontraditional relationships have been championed in the gay community in the past, and I do think all types of relationships should be honored, and not just the people who fit this model.”

His partner agreed, adding, “I think it’s a little sad that what we’ve devoted ourselves to here is, at its core, about transfers of wealth and property.” The writer of the CNN article agrees: “I myself have never believed that marriage was such a magnificent institution that all gay people should be encouraged to embrace it. To me, being queer has always been about celebrating everything which makes us different.”

This chorus extended to outlets like Time magazine, where Howard Chua-Eoan wrote in a column about his experience of what he calls “bittersweet victory” on the night of the New York vote:

I had wandered down from a party about 10 blocks north, in Chelsea, one of New York City’s gay enclaves. The gathering at that apartment was slightly surreal. It appeared to be familiar: handsome young men flirting with one another over sweets and alcohol. But now they had a complex new dimension to navigate”albeit the kind of calculus that heterosexuals can do in their sleep . . . . Soon, we can have the kind of domestic life straight people have. One day, we may no longer even be gay. Just the people next door. No more parades.

He spends the remainder of his column lamenting the fact that “gay marriage will not quite be marriage even in New York” because of exemptions for religious institutions in the bill. “Marriage without a church or temple wedding isn’t the real thing,” he writes. “Why can some people have all the bells and whistles in the church of their choice but not me?”

Though Chua-Eoan later writes, “The state cannot force a church to change its beliefs. Even gay people realize that is wrong,” he is at least partly mistaken about the realities of this interaction of church and state. When the relationships of “gay people” need societal validation, some of them, at least, have made it clear that it’s not all that wrong to stop dissenters from living according to their beliefs.

“There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases, the sexual liberty should win because that’s the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner,” said sexual activist and former ACLU attorney Chai Feldblum before President Obama appointed her to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she now has power to try to enforce that view. “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win,” she said.

Indeed, isn’t this the reason that the religious liberty exemptions in the New York marriage redefinition bill don’t include conscience exceptions for individuals or businesses? The idea is that everyone must accept the newly imposed values and live accordingly. A wedding photographer who can’t in good conscience use her artistic expression to make a same-sex ceremony look good as part of her creative work will be regarded no differently than the racist behind the lunch counter who doesn’t want to serve blacks. As Feldblum explained in The Brooklyn Law Review :

Just as we do not tolerate private racial beliefs that adversely affect African-Americans in the commercial arena, even if such beliefs are based on religious views, we should similarly not tolerate private beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity that adversely affect LGBT people.

And if you’re a New York clerk who has a problem of conscience with issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says you need to give up your job, despite New York law that states otherwise . After all, as one Albany law professor who apparently doesn’t bat an eye about putting this on par with racism says , “There is just not a good legal argument that you have the right to discriminate.”

So if you’ve been on the fence about protecting marriage ”wondering how someone else’s same-sex “marriage” will affect your marriage”now you’ve got a good bit of the answer: if you’re part of the 62 percent of Americans who believe marriage should be defined only as the union of a man and a woman, prepare to be regarded as the Ku Klux Klan member next door”and for your children to be taught the same perspective at your local government-run school . As a post titled “Can We Please Just Start Admitting That We Do Actually Want To Indoctrinate Kids?” on the Queerty website put it:

They accuse us of exploiting children and in response we say, “NOOO! We’re not gonna make kids learn about homosexuality, we swear! It’s not like we’re trying to recruit your children or anything.” But let’s face it”that’s a lie. We want educators to teach future generations of children to accept queer sexuality. In fact, our very future depends on it.

The message is frequently that recognition for same-sex unions will have no effect on those who disagree with them, but the evidence clearly says otherwise. As Princeton politics professor Robert P. George notes , “once one buys into ideology of sexual liberalism, the reality that has traditionally been denominated as ‘marriage’ loses all intelligibility . . . one will come to regard one’s allegiance to sexual liberalism as a mark of urbanity and sophistication, and will likely find oneself looking down on those ‘ignorant,’ ‘intolerant,’ ‘bigoted’ people”those hicks and rubes”who refuse to get ‘on the right side of history.’”

Even the new “civil unions” bill in Illinois has begun down the path toward forcing dissenters into submission. On July 5, National Public Radio reported the following about “a battle . . . brewing over whether faith-based groups must change their practices and help gay couples adopt”:

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn called it a historic day for Illinois. “There are all kinds of different families in Illinois, and we understand and love one another . . . ,” Quinn says. But the law allowing civil unions has put the state and some faith-based organizations at odds.

Quinn’s comment about “all kinds of different families” is key. In the December/January 1994 issue of Out! magazine , noted homosexual activist Michelangelo Signorile famously said that those like himself should “fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits, and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage entirely. The most subversive action lesbians and gay men can undertake is to transform the notion of ‘family’ entirely.”

We should not turn a blind eye to the physical and mental harms that people engaged in homosexual conduct bring upon themselves by chalking those harms up to “stigma, discrimination, and victimization” ”demanding more health studies and changes to the medical system ”rather than dare ask people to reconsider the path they are travelling down. Instead, we tell them “it gets better” when, in fact, it does not.

Yes, marriage as the union of a man and a woman is practical. Its stabilizing nature is undeniable for those without blinders. As political analyst Mona Charen wrote in a recent column , “Much has been made by Democrats of the increasing inequality of income distribution in America. That inequality is real. But it’s not the result of tax cuts. It’s an artifact of family structure. And unless we find a way to discourage unwed childbearing and revive marriage, the chasm between classes will continue to grow. Gay marriage is a distraction. The country depends on traditional marriage.”

Despite this, many filled the streets of New York to revel in the unraveling on June 24, just as they did during the parades the day after the legislature’s vote. USA Today made note of “one parade attendee dressed as half bride and half groom.” The symbolism couldn’t be any more poignant or clear: Not a bride, not a groom. Both and neither at the same time. Marriage but not marriage. The elimination of distinctions. The pursuit of “marriage equality” is nothing less than an assault on marriage integrity.

Brian Raum is a New York attorney who has defended marriage in numerous federal and state court cases and has provided legal input to New York legislators. He is senior counsel and head of marriage litigation for the Alliance Defense Fund , which is part of the legal team currently defending California’s marriage amendment in federal court.

Fall Web Campaign: Please donate to support the online mission of First Things .

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter Web Exclusive Articles

Related Articles