Research by numerous scholars who have studied marriage, sexuality and kinship throughout US history supports the view that diverse types of families, including families built on same-sex partnerships, have existed across time, even as law and government have accorded some of those families unequal status. Laws and customs regulating marriage, as well as the US Constitution, have not been static, but have tended to increase the number of people entitled to claim the benefits and responsibilities of legal marriage. Because no evidence exists that a viable democracy depends upon defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, it is troubling that those against gay marriage use that premise as the cornerstone of their argument.
Marriage has been a fluid institution throughout history. There were times when marriage to multiple spouses was accepted (not just in American history, either, but in world history). There were times, even within the early church, when same-sex unions were accepted and supported.
The inarguable truth of fluid definitions of marriage in history, while certainly correct, is not a rational justification for any position on the issue of gay marriage. Based on that premise, one might with equal justification argue that, because marriage has been fluid throughout history, people should be free to marry multiple spouses, immediate family members, or ten-year-old children. That's why you won't see me use that cheap answer to a complicated question.
Yet the argument against gay marriage is based on the false presumption that same-sex unions will somehow denigrate the sanctity of marriage as an institution. The argument even goes so far as to claim that gay marriage will cause the downfall of our democracy.
Once I stopped laughing at that one, I thought some level of comparison was in order.
Those who so readily call for amending the Constitution in order to stop homosexual marriage must be the same people who thought it was acceptable for Britney Spears to get married for one night, only to annul the bond the next day.
These are also the same people who believe it's perfectly within their definition of marriage to see two strangers play to a television audience in order to get married for $1,000,000.
Am I to believe, with only these two examples (and don't make me come up with more), that gay marriages would somehow degrade marriage for everyone else?
It's a well documented fact that the majority of heterosexual marriages end in divorce. Is this not a blatant attack on the sanctity of marriage? Would it not be prudent to outlaw divorce in order to ensure our democracy doesn't crumble at our feet?
Since the dissolution, rather than the creation, of a marriage tends to more effectively undermine its purported sanctity, I believe it important for all good Christians to stop for a moment and remember that Jesus himself said, "Whatsoever God hath joined together, let no man cast asunder." That, as you may know, is Matthew 19:6, another of the inconvenient bible verses so many right-wing dimwits choose to ignore. The idea that denying marriage rights to a group would somehow alter the downward spiral marriage has taken in the last few decades is as laughable as it is offensive.
But the bible didn't stop there with regards to marriage, so neither shall we.
Jesus also mentioned (in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9) that any follower who married more than once would be committing adultery. As we all know, adultery is a sin according to the bible. Why do I not hear this being preached at the heathen masses who divorce and remarry at will, as if it's a sport to see who can do it most often?
I am confused as to why these things are not attacked as assaults on the sanctity of marriage or the cause of an eventual downfall of our democracy.
The argument against same-sex marriages, especially if based on the idea of trying to protect marriage, is horrifically misguided and unable to see its very own faults. Those most adamant about stopping gay marriage are likely the biggest investors in divorce and multiple marriages.
For that reason, I offer an alternative, a different approach to the overall question which should appease everyone.
All the self-titled protectors of marriage shouldn't mind if all civil and legal rights for spouses were forbidden, making marriage a strictly religious or spiritual union. Marital status could not be used to discriminate — no different tax status, no superior rights of inheritance, no extra medical benefits, no special hospital visitation rights, and so on. If marriage is indeed a strong institution requiring protection, that will be the truest test of it and would alleviate all of the legal arguments against homosexual marriages.
Yet I very much doubt that such a move would even be considered.