Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in 16 States, and This Is Good

In response to an opinion against same-sex marriage and an invitation for the "hate mail to roll":

Mr. Byrne, I do not hate you.  I believe you are unfortunately and seriously misguided.  Your opinion against same-sex marriage is both flawed and muddled.  More to the point, you are perpetuating ignorance and narrow-mindedness on grounds that are as nebulous as your viewpoint is without merit.  Here is why:

Same-sex marriage is not wrong.  It is a long-overdue extension of a thoroughly modern institution that affords loving and committed same-sex couples the opportunity to more fully contribute to and maintain the well-being of their family, as well as that of their communities, and society as a whole.

The formal institutionalization of same-sex marriage by state governments across the United States will help to bolster and strengthen the institution of marriage.  A “sad commentary on today’s culture” is not that same-sex couples want to marry, but that there are people, like you, who would deny gays and lesbians of such an important element of our society because they want it only for themselves on the premise that it must be protected.  Protected from what, exactly?

The definition of marriage has been a moving target over the course of human civilization.  Not until the 20th century did the more “progressive” idea of love and a mutual commitment between two people come to be part of the “tradition” of marriage.  Be that as it may, this thoroughly modern model of marriage is not predicated on the physical attributes of those entering into a union, but rather a willingness and desire to make a life-long commitment to each other—through sickness and health, for richer or poorer—that is guided by a standard benchmarked on fundamental human and civil ideals:  Love, commitment, perseverance, and stability.

These are grand things that make up our institution of marriage and are most certainly about something larger.  Providing for universal access to marriage is to invite the whole of our society to strive for those fundamental ideals, in public witness of our family, friends, and community.  It is the surest way to both perpetuate those very standards and to encourage a positive social and civil impact on our society, our daily journey as individuals, and throughout our married lifetimes.  That is, absolutely, for the common good.

Further, Mr. Byrne, you managed to confound your opinion by entwining beliefs on entirely separate thoughts.  Even a “traditional” definition of marriage neither says nor implies anything regarding children.  Marriage, procreation, and child-rearing are three entirely different matters.  You stated that “every child has a right to a mother and a father.”  In fact, every child has a biological mother and father.  This is not a right, but a basic tenant of sexual reproduction.

Same-sex marriage does not harm children.  At the heart of a committed marriage is a sense of selflessness.  Two people wanting to make such a union are willing to sacrifice their time, energy, money, and even safety when necessary, which is the basis of a good model of fitness for parenthood.  For those kids who are being raised by gay parents, or who are themselves gay and being raised by straight parents, their needs are universally the same:  Love, commitment, perseverance, and stability.  For those who are rearing children, same-sex or otherwise, marriage can be a helpful component of a well-rounded upbringing.  But, marriage, same-sex or otherwise, is not required to either conceive a child or rear a child successfully.

The “standard” you are advocating to preserve is no such thing, Mr. Byrne.  It is a short-sighted wish of how you want things to be.  I cannot fathom a viewpoint that advocates exclusion or discrimination as a way to maintain some high purpose or “standard”.  No principle that is meant to bolster a society can be upheld when not all of that society is allowed to participate.  We have done away with feudalism; the rich and the poor pay taxes for the betterment of our civilization.

It is time, Mr. Byrne, for you to move your thinking out of the Dark Ages and into the 21st century.  Here today we have 16 states that provide access to marriage for same-sex couples.  Expressing our natural and God-given capacity to love; our desire to fully commit ourselves to one another; to help our family and each other persevere through the bumpy roads and headwinds of life; and to seek and work hard to maintain stability for ourselves and our family are all aspects of the human drive and experience to be celebrated, not derided or put down as abhorrent.  For all those reasons and for the common good, that is 34 states too few.

My husband and I do not hate you, Mr. Byrne.  As much as we whole-heartedly disagree with your opinion against same-sex marriage, we respect your right to express it.  What neither of us can abide is the perpetuation of tired and baseless claims that same-sex marriage is wrong because you think it is a destructive force borne from selfishness.  The propagation of your backward view comes at the expense of a vibrant community of committed and productive gays and lesbians across the country who desire to be afforded equal footing in our society to love and care for one another.  This, at its most basic, is a good thing.  Your opinion against same-sex marriage is wrong, Mr. Byrne.

Footnote:  To be clear, same-sex marriage is soon to be legal in Illinois and Hawaii, and is already legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington D.C., California, New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, and New Jersey.  It is also legal in Argentina, Australia (ACT only), Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Mexico (DF and QR only), Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom (England and Wales only), and Uruguay.

As with every path that must be forged through the thorny thickets of the narrow and bigoted, the United States, and the world, is making good and steady progress furrowing the bramble of this kind of narrow-minded and small thinking with seeds of equality.  In the end, those ideals of love, commitment, perseverance, and stability are blazing that path.

[Updated 11/17/2013 with corrections to the list of countries where same-sex marriage is legal.]