Last week the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases involving same-sex marriage. The first case centered on California's "Proposition 8," which overturned, by popular referendum, the state's law allowing same sex couples to wed. The second case involves the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage, for federal purposes, as a union between one man and one woman, thereby denying federal spousal benefits to homosexual couples who were legally married in states that permit such unions. Rulings in the two cases are expected in June.
Recent polls show that public opinion is shifting in the direction of acceptance of gay marriage. One option at the court's disposal would be to treat the matter as a states' rights issue, and let the political process take is course in the individual states. If the court pursues this course, it is possible that in the next two years seven more states may legalize same sex marriage, in addition to the nine states and the District of Columbia which have already done so.
But why the change in public opinion? Why were people opposed to gay marriage before? Why was it illegal in the first place?
During the argument over DOMA, Justice Elena Kagan noted that the report of the House of Representatives attached to the statute cited "moral disapproval" of homosexuality, and she called that "a pretty good red flag" for discrimination. Press reports indicated that her comment caused a stir in the courtroom.
This, however, begs the question. All morality entails discrimination: discrimination between good and evil, between virtue and vice. The court itself discriminates every time it decides a case, ruling in favor of one party against another.
Moreover, if morality itself involves discrimination that is impermissible under the Constitution, is morality itself unconstitutional? Is America legally constrained to be an amoral society?
It should not have surprised Justice Kagan that the House of Representatives, in passing a bill dealing with a subject like homosexuality, would cite moral considerations. Homosexuality was roundly condemned by both Judaism and Christianity.
The traditional belief is was that sex was designed to fulfill a specific purpose, viz., heterosexual reproduction. To that end there is a natural attraction between members of the opposite sex, and in order to promote social stability sexual activity was supposed to be confined to marriage. Homosexuality was regarded as a grotesque anomaly, the very antithesis of what marriage was supposed to be.
It was also regarded at one time as a mental disorder. A pivotal turning point in the way society views homosexuality came in 1975 when the American Psychiatric Association decided to remove the condition from its Diagnostics and Statistics Manual. The APA arrived at its conclusion, however, not because of any new clinical findings, but because of political pressure: a group of young activists campaigned for it. The rationale for the new policy is that since many homosexuals do not feel any subjective distress over their sexual orientation, it should not be considered a pathology. But under this standard almost any form of compulsive, antisocial, and even criminal activity could be considered "normal." If the alcoholic is not willing to admit that he has a drinking problem, is he mentally ill? What if he's perfectly happy being drunk, and thinks that he can control his drinking? Is the benchmark of mental health simply feeling good about one's self?
The anomaly presented by homosexuality should be readily apparent. If one is biologically male, and yet is sexually attracted to other males, there is something obviously dysfunctional there, a disconnect between a person's psychology and biology. It is absurd to call such a condition "normal."
The argument is often made that gays are born that way and therefore cannot help being the way they are. Yet numerous studies have been done to find a biological or genetic cause for homosexuality, yet none have produced conclusive results. What has been demonstrated, however, is that a common pattern among male homosexuals is a close binding mother and a distant father, suggesting that homosexuality is a learned behavior acquired during early childhood socialization.
The gay lifestyle, at least among male homosexuals, is highly eroticized and notoriously promiscuous, whereas marriage is about restricting sex to one partner. How many gays who want to get "married" are willing to practice strict monogamy within an exclusive relationship?
The overriding interest of the state in marriage is to encourage stable family units, and this calls for
|Van Gogh: Mother and Child
The push to legalize same-sex marriage threatens to redefine marriage in a radical way. The effect will not be felt immediately. Gays will be able at first to claim that they have not undermined anyone else's marriage. But what kind of expectation will be created for future generations? That anything goes? That any pairing of sexual partners is permissible? That a permanent, committed relationship between a child's biological parents is unrealistic?
As we have said before, gay marriage is not the beginning of the end. It is the end of the end, the end of a long process of moral and social disintegration that began with feminism and the sexual revolution of the 70's. Today the wreckage lies all around us – a whole generation of young people raised in unstable, single-parent families. Of course they support gay marriage by large majorities: traditional family life is foreign to them. The question is, will the Supreme Court deliver the final blow?
Related blog posts:
Should Same Sex Marriage Be Made Legal?
Same Sex Marriage: What Is at Stake
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