Getting Straight About Gay Marriage

A handicap impairs someone’s ability to do what people are normally able to do. People can normally see colors, but some are born colorblind. People can normally hear, but some are born deaf.

A person is normally attracted to the opposite sex. This is nature’s way to encourage mating and offspring.

But the gay person’s mating attraction is to someone of the same sex. This impairs, but does not necessarily prevent, normal mating. Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson married, had two daughters with his wife, and only later chose to follow his natural desire. He was honest with his wife from the beginning and his new life partner is loved by his ex-wife and daughters.

Like any other handicap, being gay is limited and specific. You probably would not know someone is gay until they tell you.

A caring community normally supports individuals with handicaps. We reject prejudices that some people may have about them. We try to imagine what it would be like to walk in their shoes. We admonish our children to not make fun of someone who is different from themselves.  And, to the degree possible, we accommodate that person’s special needs.

I have long resisted using the term “marriage” for same-sex couples, preferring a different name, like “domestic partnership”.  My concern is that, in the same fashion that Bishop Robinson was able to sustain a relationship that seemed unnatural to him, it is also possible for a heterosexual to find himself or herself in a long-term, same-sex relationship.

Emotional bonds are easily established with someone of either sex. The sex act itself requires little more than physical stimulation. The presumption that only homosexuals can be drawn into a same-sex relationship is likely false. So I still worry about the moral harm to a person drawn into a relationship that unnecessarily prevents him from having a normal family. Hopefully, that fear can be addressed in other ways.

It seems the time has come to call the commitment of two people to love and care for each other “marriage”, whether of the same or opposite sex.

Marriage arose in society as an ethical structure for mating, insuring that someone was responsible for the children and, historically, the dependent spouse. That’s why it always assumed an opposite-sex couple.

But marriage is also a pledge of sexual fidelity, emotional support, and sharing a home. These are the same for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. And people in such similar situations should not be treated so differently.


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