Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Opposing gay marriage isn't bigotry

Published: Nov. 15, 2006 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Several months ago, I was struck by a Quick Hit from a Journal Sentinel editorial writer who didn't understand why same-sex marriage was such a "big deal" among people who oppose the concept.

Supporters of same-sex marriage generally fall into two groups. The first group supports it purely on grounds of equality and treating others humanely regardless of race, origin, creed, etc. I can't argue with those supporters' motives, only with their judgment and apparent disregard for the importance of the traditional family unit. I place the aforementioned writer in this camp. At least we can talk.

The second group is more subliminal in practice. Those supporters wrap their arguments around the notion of equality, but what they actually want is societal re-engineering, and they'll say or do just about anything to achieve it. They insist that anyone rejecting the notion of same-sex marriage is motivated solely by bigotry.

Someone from this second camp must have occupied an office across the street from my own on Wisconsin Ave. He or she projected a large banner from a window to persuade pedestrians to vote "no" on the Nov. 7 marriage amendment banning same-sex marriage and in the process to "say no to bigotry."

It's hard to converse with one calling you a bigot, so before we go further, you must accept the premise that it is possible to treat homosexuals with the same decency that any other human deserves while still rejecting the same-sex marriage movement. If you cannot reconcile those two things, read no further; I'll never reach you.

Of course, we ought to treat homosexuals with the same decency as anyone else, but we don't have to embrace the concept that a marriage (and thus a family) stemming from a same-sex couple deserves society's unmitigated Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

But back to that second faction of the same-sex marriage group. What those supporters really want is for the rest of us to dispense with our construct of an acceptable family model. (That's the big deal.) Their imperative to recognize a same-sex union as a marriage has more to do with destroying long-held societal notions of what constitutes a family than it has to do with equality.

After all, there is nothing precluding a same-sex couple from living together, pledging commitment to one another and, increasingly, receiving a partner's benefits from American employers.

To be sure, a heterosexual marriage cannot, in and of itself, guarantee a sublime family life, but that is not the point. With all other factors equal, are well-adjusted children just as likely to emerge from same-sex families as from heterosexual parents?

If you believe in providence or a higher power of any kind, do you really think it is an accident that only heterosexual couples can conceive a child? Should we alter an institution that is thousands of years old to accommodate less than 2% of our population trying to experiment with child-rearing?

Most Wisconsin voters felt the answer to those questions was "no," and I believe many voting with that majority also view the same-gendered couple next door as much two of God's children as a heterosexual couple. We simply reject the notion of some New Age family unit.

To oppose an expanded definition of marriage does not equate to bigotry. Preserving the nuclear family is a cause most people hold as an immutable necessity for a stable society.

All too often, one can, with impunity, accuse anyone of bigotry or racism. Just cloak your arguments under the protective banner of "diversity" or "inclusiveness." No standard of proof or reason is required.