Perhaps no issue is more nerve-wracking today than "same-sex marriage." It’s a magnet for controversy and evokes strong reactions from those on either side of the debate. But underneath the fiery passion and rhetoric, we must evaluate the real arguments.
Thus, Our Sunday Visitor invited me to write a special section for their newsweekly examiningthe ten most common arguments for "same-sex marriage." You've likely heard many of these from friends, family members, co-workers, and commenters around the Internet. The arguments I cover include:
- Marriage has evolved throughout history, so it can change again.
- "Same-sex marriage" is primarily about equality.
- Everyone has the right to marry whomever he or she loves.
- "Same-sex marriage" won’t affect you, so what’s the big deal?
- "Same-sex marriage" will not lead to other redefinitions.
- If same-sex couples can’t marry because they can’t reproduce, why can infertile couples marry?
- Children will not be affected since there is no difference between same-sex parents and opposite-sex parents.
- Opposition to same-sex marriage is based on bigotry, homophobia, and religious hatred.
- The struggle for "same-sex marriage" is just like the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
- "Same-sex marriage is inevitable," so we should "stand on the right side of history."
It's important to note that the article concerns civil marriage—marriage as defined and promoted by the state. It doesn’t deal with the Church’s sacramental understanding, although the two often overlap. Second, the responses to the arguments are emphatically nonreligious. They don’t depend on any sacred text or divine revelation. They’re based on reason, philosophy, biology and history. Third, the article only refutes arguments in favor of "same-sex marriage." It doesn’t touch upon the many positive arguments supporting traditional marriage.
Also, the article is not an attack on people with same-sex attractions. All people, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Instead, the article is a rational look at whether we should redefine civil marriage, an institution that touches all people and cultures.
In this I explain how Chick-Fil-A and Facebook led me to write about such a volatile subject:
If you simply accept marriage today as between one man and one woman, or disagree with the idea of "same-sex marriage" even for legitimate reasons, you’re unequivocally branded a hateful bigot. This emotionally charged atmosphere makes rational discussion nearly impossible. Political slogans, sound-bites, tribal divisions, and name-calling drown out real arguments and leave little room for charity and clear-thinking....
More than ever Catholics need simple, rational, non-religious reasons to reinforce their arguments against "same-sex marriage."
Robert George is one of my great intellectual heroes so I was excited to talk with him about marriage. George is a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University.
He's also an expert on marital law and a strong advocate of traditional marriage. Along with Sherif Girgis and Ryan T. Anderson, George co-authored a new book titled, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (Encounter Books, paperback, ). It’s based on their renowned academic paper on the same topic that appeared in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
Professor George and I spoke about the book, his work, and the main arguments surrounding same-sex marriage.