In 2008, Californians passed Prop 8, a state constitutional amendment providing that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Many called it a gay marriage ban, but the language of a ban was misleading in a couple ways. One, homosexual “marriage” was not legally recognized before. You can’t really ban something that isn’t already happening. Second, the amendment was not banning same-sex “marriage,” and I do not know of any proposition anywhere to ban same-sex “marriage” across the board or to prevent same-sex couples from having a ceremony performed for them and calling it a marriage privately—nor would I support such a prohibition. What Prop 8 does is make plain that same-sex “marriage” simply will not be legally recognized by the state or be of any legal status qualifying such relationships for the legal benefits associated with real marriages.
I believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry on their own terms. They may have relationships and call their relationships whatever they want. But these private “marriages” should not be legally recognized nor given the same legal benefits as real marriages. Here’s why.
1.) Same-sex relationships, whatever they may be, are not marriages.
I did not say they should not be marriages. They cannot be marriages. No one can alter that. As I stated, they can be pretend marriages, and I’m certainly not trying to take that away from any couple. But by definition and by nature, same-sex relationships cannot be marriages (regardless if they were legally recognized as such, I might add). Marriage is not an institution that is invented or defined by culture, by society, by government, or by majority opinion. Marriage exists independent of these social infrastructures, and human culture simply expresses marriage in unique ways, through various ceremonies or rites. These rites do not have to look anything alike. You do not have to use the 1549 Book of Common Prayer for a marriage to be valid. You only have to be uniting by solemn vows a man and a woman into an exclusive relationship with each other.
Marriage, I believe, has a natural teleology, or an origin or cause that exists as a built-in part of the natural order. In fact, this natural teleology is easily discerned. There are two sexes, male and female. The proportion of these in the population averages 50/50. A man and a woman are the only pair of human beings that can procreate or start a family. Procreation is only possible for adult (post-pubescent) persons. Marriage, therefore, is the union of an adult man and an adult woman, and these two only. Different cultures and subcultures have institutionalized other forms of marriage, such as polygamy and polyandry, but these aberrant forms of marriage were incorrect. That is to say, because marriage has a natural teleology, a culture can get it right or get it wrong. Marriage is expressed by a culture, not defined by it.
Thus I will never vote for the legal recognition of homosexual relationships as marriages because such recognition is contrary to fact. Public policy should operate in accord with the facts. It should live in the real world. Because marriage is one thing and not another, and is not an arbitrary social construct, same-sex “marriage,” along with other aberrant kinds, although not prohibited among private citizens, should not have any legal standing or special legal recognition.
2.) Their is no reason for the government to be involved with same-sex relationships.
The state has no interest—social, economic, or otherwise—in encouraging same-sex relationships and should therefore not be involved at all. The government only has a vested interest in encouraging heterosexual marriage because such marriages create families and families make up society—the society that the government is there for. The only familial relationships that should be acknowledged and recorded by the state are those of close kin, and those of husbands and wives. For instance, I have a best friend, but the government takes no particular notice of it. Homosexual relationships should be treated the same way because they are of no more value to the survival of society than my relationship with my friend. We are not barred from being friends—we are just not afforded any special legal privileges for it. The government should recognize only monogamous heterosexual marriages because only these unions can keep a society from extinction by attrition, and because the two-parent home is the best nurturing environment for children, who are the future of any society.
Of course, not all heterosexual couples can procreate and not all choose to do so. Why then should the government recognize their marriages? Because the pattern for marriage in nature is normative. The government’s role is not to granularly pick which people may get married—it is everyone’s right to get married. It is the government’s role to acknowledge and foster the kind of marriage that produces and nurtures the next generation. That kind of marriage is conjugal marriage, heterosexual monogamous marriage. The circumstances surrounding any particular couple do not affect the rule, standard, or pattern established in nature that the government is to acknowledge.
For these two reasons, I will never vote for the recognition of same-sex “marriage.” A public policy that treats homosexual relationships the same way as heterosexual relationships does not make sense in regards to either social policy or factual integrity. I have one other thing to add: If marriage is ever treated as though it has no basis in nature and is only a societal construct that we define, then marriage will mean anything, and therefore nothing. There will be no compelling moral reason for legal marriages to exclude any kind of consensual amorous configuration of persons (hopefully persons), whether it be polyamorous, pedophilic, homosexual, incestuous, or whatever. Marriage is the covenantal unifying relationship between one man and one woman. Public policy that does not reflect that is both grounded on false premises and is uselessly involving itself in relationships that are not societally different from platonic relationships.