Monday, July 30, 2007

What's Wrong with "Gay Marriage?"

There may not be a more confusing moral or social issue in the United States today than "same-sex marriage." Most supporters argue for same-sex marriage using very bad reasoning, and those who oppose it usually do no better.

First, the issue is “same-sex marriage,” not “gay marriage.” I know this seems like a tiny, nit-picky little point, but it’s not. Language matters, and when we talk about some thing incorrectly or imprecisely we change the that thing is understood.

In this county, homosexual people have every right to marry that heterosexual people do, as long as they choose to marry someone of the opposite sex. To define the issue as “gay marriage” comes dangerously close to implying that over at the marriage license office they’re systematically weeding out homosexuals:

Marriage license worker (MLW): “Open your mouth.”
License applicant (LA): “Why?”
MLW: “Gay screenings. We need to get a swab of your saliva in order to determine whether you’re homosexual..”
LA: “What!”
MLW: “Gay people aren’t allowed to marry, or didn’t you know that? If you don’t want to open your month, here’s a cup. The bathroom is over there.”

This, of course, is completely silly. The issue is not whether homosexuals have the right to marry, but whether anyone has the right to marry someone of the same sex. Hence “Same sex marriage,” not “gay marriage.”

This is not an issue of the law treating people differently, a gay man has exactly the same right to marry that I, a heterosexual man, do. We both have the right to legally marry any other unmarried woman who will have us. Likewise, we both have exactly the same marriage restrictions placed on us: he is not allowed to legally marry a man, and neither am I.

Of course, same-sex marriage advocates cry foul at this. “But you don’t want to marry a man,” they say to me, “and Joe Rainbow over there does!”

True. But why does that matter the least little bit?

Even as a small government conservative, I acknowledge that government has legitimate objective reasons to endorse opposite-sex marriage; such relationships create and raise the next generation, and that generation is the most precious resource society has. Homosexual relationships produce nothing that the government has an interest in promoting, endorsing, or protecting.

Like social security? No more security net without the new generation. Like the economy? Kiss it goodbye without the next generation. The next generation is incredibly important, if only tangentially, to every government program, every government office, the economy and your personal job. Want your business to expand and grow? You need a new generation of young, productive, contributing members of society to both work for and patronize your business; unless, that is, your business is “prison guard.”

Where do young productive, law-abiding, members of society come from? Members who will perpetuate themselves, the culture, and the good values necessary to maintain a free society? Primarily, they come from stable two parent households, where the parents represent both the major genders - Combinations like a man and a woman, or possibly even a woman and a man.

But gay people can adopt, and what about single parents? Certainly single parents do a yeoman’s job raising their children. But should government be encouraging such arrangements? That is the question. That is what the legal protections and that status that accompanies marriage are all about: government encouragement.

Government has an interest in encouraging the traditional marriage relationship, because it is clearly the best environment to raise children in; and not just any children, but children who will grow up to become productive, happy, contributing members of society. It's not that this can't be done outside of marriage, it's just that no other arrangement has anything near the success rate that marriage does. This is the sole reason government is involved in promoting and protecting traditional marriage.

Government shouldn’t be involved in fulfilling the whims and desires of every individual citizen it governs. It would be nice to have a special tax credit or subsidy making it easier for first time home buyers who live in high-priced markets to buy their first house; such as San Diego where I live. However, government shouldn't spend our tax dollars that way because that type of handout is entirely self-serving and ends up punishing those people who choose not to live in a place like San Diego. If I want to pay less than $550,000 for a starter home then I should look for a job in Indianapolis (Nothing against Indianapolis, they just have much cheaper housing there).

Government doesn’t exist to serve the interests of individuals but to provide a safe, stable environment for people to work, live, and hopefully make a better life for themselves and their children in.