If gays are allowed to marry, that will destroy the whole institution of marriage.
Conservative writer Phyllis Scholarly saw the threat of same-sex marriage as a threat to Western Civilization.
Knowing how at odds same-sex marriage is with our legal and cultural traditions, we should not be surprised that some homosexual activists are trying to get rid of marriage all together. Same-sex marriage isn’t about granting equality of human rights. Gays are not denied any human rights. Same-sex marriage is about getting rid of the traditional values and institutions that have guided the Western world, including America.
In the same vein, Kansas Representative Tim Huelskamp said the ultimate goal of same-sex marriage was to “destroy the institution of marriage altogether by diminishing it to whatever type of contract people sign on to. . .”
Limit marriage to heterosexual couples.
I’ve been unable to find state laws limiting marriage to monogamous heterosexual couples; it would seem that gays knew better than to ask. However, in the mid-1990s, there was a flurry of state Constitutional Amendments that limited marriage to opposite-sex couples.
Then, in 1996, the U. S. Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a federal prohibition of same-sex marriage. There was more than a little irony in the naming of the law. Certainly the institution of marriage has threats it might be defended against–divorce, adultery,
incest, desertion, and spousal abuse to name a few–but DOMA was not intended to address any of those marital problems. Representative Bob Barr (R-GA) was the author and primary manager of DOMA in the Congress. At the time, Barr was on his third marriage, and Washington insiders joked about which marriage the Congressman was defending.
DOMA, like the state amendments that preceded and followed it, had one intention: to guard against the specter of same-sex marriage.
The wide-spread prohibition of gay marriage began to unravel in 2000. Vermont broke the ice by instituting a new institution: the “civil union,” which would grant gay couples many of the same rights as heterosexual couples; it just wouldn’t be called marriage. In 2004, Massachusetts broke the ice further by legalizing same-sex marriage. Period. Other states followed suit. There were limits to how much individual state laws could achieve, however, since a marriage performed in one jurisdiction might very well not be recognized in others.
The federal restriction, DOMA, was increasingly challenged in court. In 2011, the Obama administration announced that they regarded DOMA as unconstitutional and said they would not defend it in court.
This all came to a head in 2013, when the U. S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of United States v. Windsor. Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer had married in Canada in 2007 and subsequently lived in New York state. When Spyer died in 2009, her estate went to Windsor, her spouse. Had they been a heterosexual, married couple, Windsor would have enjoyed the federal tax exemption granted to a surviving spouse. Since they were not of different sexes and thus were not regarded as “married” by the U. S. federal government, Windsor was charged hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal tax. Two federal courts ruled in Windsor’s favor, and the Supremes finally agreed as well. More specifically, five of the justices favored Windsor’s case and that was enough to overthrow the Defense of Marriage Act.
By the time of the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision in 2013, more and more states had legalized same-sex marriages, as legally no different from opposite-sex marriages. Eventually, 37 states, the District of Columbia, and an assortment of counties welcomed same-sex marriages. It was difficult to calculate how many same-sex marriages have been formed, due to differences in the way the fifty states compile and report marriage statistics. However, in June 2013, the Pew Research Center gave a conservative estimate of over 70,000. It is certainly well beyond that number today.
This pattern of gradual change was dramatically altered on June 26, 2015, when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not ban same-sex marriage, and gay marriage became legal +, letting the USA join 20 other nations in that respect. To be precise, again, five of the nine justices ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, while the other four dissented with varying degrees of outrage.
Was the Problem Real?
We began with the expressed fear that legalizing same-sex marriage would destroy the institution of marriage altogether. By now, there have so many legal, gay marriages that we are in a position to assess the damages wrought by this dramatic social experiment with equality.
The most direct threat to the institution of marriage, ironically, has come from politicians and county clerks who were so deeply opposed to same sex marriage that they attempted to bring a halt to the issuance of any marriage licenses, regardless of the applicants’ sexual orientation. Thus far, those attempts have failed, and couples, both straight and gay, are still tying the knots.
My research allows me to provide the following list of heterosexual marriages that have been tragically destroyed by the legalization of same-sex marriage:
I should acknowledge the rumor about a baker who had to work so many late nights to meet the expanded demand for wedding cakes that his wife left him. I cannot confirm that story, however.
I think the best diagnosis of the perceived threat appeared on a web poster: “If your marriage is threatened by marriage equality, then one of you is gay.”
I’ve already touched on some of the negative consequences of the ban on gay marriage above. Loving couples committed to each other were denied the many benefits of marriage. Once they began requesting permission to formalize their relationships in marriage, the refusal was often served up with insults, hatred, and humiliation.
Even when gay identity became more common and marginally more acceptable, the citadel of marriage remained unavailable. Gay couples lived together and sometimes formed life-long commitments, but they were “significant others,” “partners,” “longtime companions,” or “special friends”—not spouses. Some degree of embarrassment over second-class citizenship was inevitable.
While same-sex couples could have public “commitment ceremonies” in front of family and friends to declare their lifelong devotion to each other,
they typically were denied benefits accruing to “married” couples. Such benefits included inheritance, coverage on a spouse’s health plan,
receiving death benefits, and other economic entitlements. In a medical emergency, they might be denied the right to visit an ailing partner in the hospital.
Although same-sex marriage is now the law of the land in America and many other countries, legality does not necessarily imply acceptance. Anti-homosexual prejudice is not susceptible to a Supreme Court ruling, but the Court’s action helps to erode the remaining disapproval and hate. Those couples first seeking same-sex marriages, ironically, were reminiscent of couples in earlier times who sought approval for mixed-religion or mixed-race marriages. One can only guess at what the exclusionary urge will forbid next.
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“Schlafly: Gay Marriage Will Ruin Western Civilization,” Right Wing Watch, October 15, 2014 — http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/schlafly-gay-marriage-will-ruin-western-civilization#sthash.rApCpCm5.dpuf — accessed July 31, 2015
Lauretta Brown, “Huelskamp: Final Goal of Gay ‘Marriage’ is to Destroy the Institution of Marriage,” cnsnews.com, June 20, 2014 — http://cnsnews.com/news/article/lauretta-brown/huelskamp-final-goal-gay-marriage-destroy-institution-marriage — accessed July 31, 2015