A response to John Jalsevac’s article in Crisis Magazine, “Why we are losing the gay ‘marriage’ debate (and how we can starting winning).” (4/16/13)
by Doughlas Remy
John, I believe you’ve presented a false dichotomy between marriage as “outward-looking and objective” on the one hand, and “inward-looking and subjective,” on the other. Why couldn’t a marriage, with or without children, look both outward and inward? Why couldn’t it include both family formation—including child-rearing—and sexual intimacy, companionship, and the self-actualization of the couple? Marriages may last as long as 60 years or more, during which only 20 years or so are dedicated to child-raising.
You describe the marriage vows for your two marriage modes as “permanent” and “temporary,” respectively, but few couples ever expect to break the vows they’ve made to form a life-long commitment. Sometimes marital situations become intolerable, in which case everyone’s interests (including children’s) may be best served by breaking up and getting a fresh start. And I am talking about ordinary people here, not Hollywood celebrities who stay on the covers of People Magazine and the tabloids by practicing serial polygamy.
In several ways, your list of “certain, solid, objective” facts about the foundations of marriage is not so solid.
First, as a gay man about to be married, I can assure you that I feel absolutely no “biological and psychological complementarity” with any woman. Else I would not be marrying a man. “Biology” is not just about organs; it is also about the chemistry of the brain.
Second, the solemn public vow need not be made before God. Instead, many people make that vow before their community. Non-theists do marry, you know, and their marriages are not inherently less stable than those of theists.
Third, civil law (at least in the U.S.) does not require procreation in marriage, so you are speaking to Catholics.
Fourth, the consensus of pediatric professionals is that children raised by same-sex parents fare no worse than children raised by a mother and a father.
One thing you got right is that “healthy, stable families are the necessary foundation of a healthy, stable society.” So why would you not encourage the formation of healthy, stable families by gay men and lesbians? Most people need and want sexual intimacy, companionship, and self-actualization—all within the framework of life-long commitment. Psychologists everywhere agree that these goods are in fact necessary for healthy living. The alternatives are loneliness, social marginalization, low self-esteem, and often promiscuity and other self-destructive behaviors. Is this what you prefer?
In listing the statistics about cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, single-parent homes, and divorce—all of which are clearly social problems that could be remedied by a greater commitment to the institution of marriage—you neglected to mention the problems faced by gay men and lesbians who are DENIED the right to marry.
How can you disapprove of both single-parent homes AND same-sex marriage, which would bring help to overburdened single parents?
How can you disapprove of both cohabitation AND same-sex marriage, which would allow gay men and lesbians to commit to each other in ceremonies that have the full recognition of the state?
Maybe your challenge is not so much to “roll back” the sexual revolution as to recognize that new and better syntheses are beginning to occur. The way forward is not the way back.
We (gays) are working to get our act together. What about you? Maybe opposing same-sex marriage is not where you should be directing your efforts. Instead of standing in our way, maybe you should be supporting us.