Homosexuality and Marriage

    April Passover 2004 Edition            
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Homosexuality and Marriage


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Opinion & Society


Why Not Same Sex Marriage?

bt Carl Pearlston

Last week, Massachusetts State Representative Elizabeth Malia, speaking on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community, stated that marriage has never been a rigid, inflexible institution, but has continually evolved and changed with evolving social needs. In her view, evolution now demands same-sex marriage. Denial is discriminatory, a denial of the equal protection of law. This is to be accomplished nationwide by judicial fiat, just as has been done by the court of her State.

My Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defines marriage as the "State of being married, or united to a person or persons of the opposite sex as husband or wife; also the mutual relation of a husband and wife; wedlock; abstractly, the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence, especially as constituting the simplest form of family." This definition goes back some 700 years in English history, and accords with 4,000 years of recorded practice in Western Civilization.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, marriage begins in the Book of Genesis, where God said "It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him." God did not create another man to be Adam's helper, nor did God create a group of men to sit around in companionship with Adam. The story tells us that other men could not assuage the existential aloneness of Adam, for Man without Woman would still be alone and incomplete. So God made someone different from Adam, yet having an essential sameness with him: Woman. "This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called Woman for from man was she taken."

Man and Woman are akin to the Yin and Yang of Taoism, the coming together of incomplete and complementary opposites; a blending of differences: "Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh."

There is no mention in this creation story of children as the necessary purpose of marriage. The goal is the completeness of the whole, so that we will not be alone in the singleness of our same-sex, but rather, blending the male-female complementary differences to form a unit, which we refer to as The Family. There is the expectation that children will result from that union, which is essential for continuation of our species.

Society protects the Family in the interest of fostering the male-female relationship and providing for the care of such children as may result, who benefit from having the guidance and protection of both a Mother and Father, with their complementary and different male/female influences. Children cannot result from the direct union of same-sex couples.

Advocates of same-sex marriage have argued that if adoptions by homosexuals are legal, then marriage should be legal for the benefit of those children, ignoring the argument that such adoptions are themselves not in the best interest of these children, deprived of the mother-father blending of complementary opposites in two parents. To reason from a presumption that a particular child may not be adopted unless by a homosexual pair, to the conclusion that society should therefore sanction same-sex marriage, is an invalid leap in logic.

Dennis Prager has noted in his Biblical lectures that one message of Genesis is that God intends for us to love the stranger, the other, the one unlike oneself, similar to the Taoist reference above. This is reason for condemnation of homosexuality, incest, and cross-dressing found in the Bible, as those practices focus our love and sexual longing on those like ourselves rather than on the other. In a sense, it is akin to being in love with one's self. A man may love his sister or his mother, but he should not have sex with her, because she shares the same blood-lines as he, and is thus, in a manner, similar to himself.

Two men or two women should not marry or have sex with each other, because their union would join like to like. Therefore, in Western civilization, marriage has always been the socially-recognized union of un-related opposite-sex couples. Though originating in religious tradition and practice, it has long ago become the secular morality as well.

To divert attention from this historic record, the claim has been made that male to male marriages were sanctioned and solemnized by the Church during the Middle Ages in Europe. On closer inspection, these "marriages" turn out to be nothing more that the "blood brother" oath familiar to anyone who has seen Wagner's Gotterdammerung, in which feudal lords pledge fealty to one another.

Arguments have also been made that since polygamy was the norm in ancient times, this demonstrates that marriage is not a static institution and should now change. Polygamy, however was definitely not the norm during the Greek or Roman empires. Every literary mention of it talks of the problems, jealousy, and strife it entails, and none of the Biblical passages call polygamy a blessing.

Neither was it practiced by the ancient world's Diaspora Jewish community, but was disapproved by the rabbinic school of Hillel and by the Qumran sects. It was only practiced to a limited extent by the aristocracy in Judea; it was approved by the rabbinic school of Shammai, with whom Jesus disagreed. He was quite clear that polygamy is wrong. From the earliest history of England, polygamy was an offense against society.

It has always been illegal in the US, which illegality was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1878. It was not until the Mormon church abandoned its defense of polygamy that Utah was admitted to the Union in 1896. It is questionable if those precedents would be legally sufficient to bar group marriages if same-sex couples could wed under the concept of equal rights.

Traditionally, the prevailing societal morality has determined Law, so that practices deemed immoral by society were declared illegal. Homosexual/lesbian behavior, incest, prostitution, bestiality, cross-dressing, adultery, fornication, all of which are prohibited and condemned in the Bible, were declared illegal. Of recent years, as religious influence has waned and courts have developed the concepts of personal privacy rights, the law no longer reflects that morality. In fact, the law now determines morality, in that practices which are declared legal, or are de-criminalized, are thereby deemed moral and normative.

When one homosexual recently received a marriage license in New York state, he reportedly exclaimed, "Now I'm normal!" Achieving that normative status, with its cachet of societal approval, has always been the focus of the battle for same-sex marriage, despite the battle being cast in equal-protection language dealing with legal rights, survivor, property and tax benefits, all of which could be achieved under normal contract law or with a will or power of attorney.

Key to achieving this status has been the analogizing of the gay-rights movement to the civil-rights movement, stressing that being homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered is a matter over which the individual has no control, it being an inborn, immutable characteristic which must be protected by the law.

The fact that there is an abysmal lack of evidence to support that claim, despite decades futilely spent searching for a gay gene or other biological marker, and despite the wealth of evidence pointing to early childhood experiences and sexual abuse as the explanation, the public has seemingly become convinced by elite opinion that there is no choice or behavior-induced factor in what otherwise would be classified as aberrant or deviant sexual behavior.

Anthropology has lately been enlisted in this campaign to convince the public that homosexuality is normal, by pointing out occurrences of same-sex behavior in animals, most notably Bonobo apes, and most recently, penguins in a zoo. The latter exhibit male pair-bonding, ignore female penguins, and tried to incubate a rock. The Bonobos are sexually promiscuous with other Bonobos of either sex, and sex is used by them as a means of social communication.

The aptness of these examples rests on the assumption that people are just animals, no different in degree or kind from other animals, and that, therefore, what is normative for them should be normative for us. That assumption is, of course, diametrically contrary to the Judeo-Christian world view of Western Civilization, in which humans are not just another animal. Further, it is surely not normative for penguins to incubate rocks, and those who do are very confused penguins. The Bonobos' indiscriminate sexual promiscuity tells us little about human sexuality, and is hardly a guide for solving any of our social problems.

In the 1950's, the descriptive phrase used by the first of the homosexual rights groups, The Mattachine Society, was "sexual choice", and the key issue was that of private sexual behavior free from governmental inquiry or societal intrusion. Over the years, the phrase changed to "sexual preference", to avoid the concept that homosexual behavior was a matter of choice, and the focus changed from that of privacy to that of equal rights. In fact, privacy concerns yielded to making the matter of one's sexual preference very public.

The switch in emphasis was finalized when the current phrase "sexual orientation" was fashioned to connote a race-like, immutable, inborn characteristic in order to gain public sympathy and acceptance, portraying homosexuals as victims of societal discrimination who are denied the rights and benefits to which heterosexuals are entitled. The current furor over same-sex marriage has placed the nation's cultural, intellectual, and media elites, along with the political left, into its favor, although opposed by the majority of the public. This demonstrates how successful the emphasis on homosexual victimology has been.

In this appeal for sympathy, the bans on same-sex marriages have been analogized to the overturned anti-miscegenation laws which forbade marriage between persons of different races, noting that those laws, like the ones forbidding same-sex marriage, rested on a discriminatory and outmoded social value. This false analogy merely obfuscates the real issue, since cross-racial marriages always involved couples of the opposite sex.

The argument is also made that since one marries to be happy with the one who is loved and loves in return, and the homosexual or lesbian loves another of the same sex, he or she is denied the equal protection of the laws and the right to happiness if they are prohibited from socially sanctioned marriage.

This argument can only be upheld by accepting the inborn-trait argument, radically redefining marriage or removing any definition from it, and stripping away its fundamental purpose of joining the two complementary sexes. Once that would be accomplished, there will be no rational legal restriction on who could marry who, or what; why should marriage be limited to only within our species?

Recall the film, Go West, in which the great Buster Keaton played a man in love with a cow. That was a comedy, but transpeciesism could easily be the next focus of the laws' protection, again brought about through judicial, not legislative, creation in defining the new family. Such fundamental shifts in social values should be brought about by the people themselves, not the judiciary through its interpretation of law.

Most of us remember the 1992 Democratic Convention, at which the Family was celebrated, though it was not the traditional nuclear family of mother-father-children. Instead, the nation was exhorted to celebrate non-traditional families of single-parent, same-sex, or extended relationships and kinships.

This recasting of Family was in rebuke to the then Vice-President Quail's chastisement of single-parenthood as advocated in a television series, Murphy Brown. Despite the fact that his prediction of the dangers to society and children from rising rates of single-parenthood were born out, and that the lead actress of that program later agreed with him, Quail was ridiculed and vilified for questioning this restructuring of the traditional family. There then followed a growing trend separating parenthood from marriage.

In this attack, the feminist and gay-rights movement were united, both calling for the radical alteration of the societal institution of marriage. Feminists attacked marriage as a patriarchal prison for women trapped in child-rearing, while one gay-rights publication stated: "The heterosexual family unit-spawning ground of lies, betrayals, mediocrity, hypocrisy and violence-shall be abolished." Same-sex marriage is but a step toward the abolishment of marriage.

While the courts ponder whether it is constitutional for the public to enshrine in law their distaste and disapproval of homosexual marriage, or whether the federal or State constitution requires a redefinition of what is meant by marriage to accommodate same-sex unions, the public is left to ponder the remark of Chief Justice Warren Burger that when the courts forge the links in the chain of legal reasoning, each link built on the preceding link, the completed chain leads us to a destination we neither intended nor desired.

Where this matter will lead cannot be good for society, but the Judiciary seems determined to take us to that destination, as shown in Hawaii, Alaska, Massachusetts, and California, whose Supreme Court has yet to rule. While no doubt a drastic remedy, nothing short of a federal Constitutional Amendment, setting forth the public's moral choice on marriage as between one man and one woman, can prevent the Judiciary from defining that moral choice as a matter of law without regard to the public will.


from the April Passover 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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