To all who are reading or contributing to this thread - I just want to say I've rarely seen such eloquent, respectful and factual discussions over such a heated topic before - on e-mail no less. This is truly great, a class act, and we are all doing our part in bringing about clarity. As for me, I fully own my belief that gay couples should be treated with respect and dignity and should have equal legal rights - nobody can minimize that for me. At the same time, I admit both Leslie and Nathan have valid points. Am I saying equal rights or unequal? I can't have it both ways.
Let me ask this: Given that gay couples in Cali already have the same legal rights as straight couples do, isn't the crux of this conflict about the symbolism of marriage? That seemingly tiny but in reality defining (or redefining) moment in our society?I believe most proponents of gay marriage see this redefinition as an unprecedented proclamation that it is no better for members of a society to marry those of the opposite sex than it is the same sex. Either way is identical, equal; there is zero difference.
I believe most opponents of gay marriage say no - as a society, gay and straight marriage is actually not equal. Straight marriage is better for society than is gay marriage.I submit that it boils down to that difference. And it is in that context that it makes sense for me to say - disagree as you will - that gay couples deserve legal rights, respect, rights to adoption, encouragement of monogamy, and similar but that we should and must also keep opposite-sex marriage as special with its unique designation; marriage.
If I were going only by compassion, and Kira gave a compelling argument for compassion among other things - I would say yes, gay couples who have fought for equality and acceptance should be granted it. But I must also consider society and how we influence it with our laws and thus our values.
A quick defense of straight marriage as better for society and deserving of a unique designation. I do not think any honest person can disagree with the answers to the below questions, though I can understand the disagreement with the conclusion:
- Are men and women fundamentally different? It is so obvious the answer is yes, by so many measures. Just as it relates to sex, look at a men's restroom wall virus a women's? Look at porn use by men versus women, romance novels read by men versus women.
- Are monogamous couples better for families and thus for society than broken couples?Yes. Children can suffer tremendously from broken households where mother and father aren't present. The Black community, for example, is facing horrific challenges due to the absence of fathers.
- Do straight couples have better success rates than gay couples?Yes, absolutely. Among the reasons is surely societal pressure on gay men, but much of it also goes to my first point - men are more sexual than women. Women tend to hold relationships together and balance men's sex drive. Seriously, honestly: A woman and a man; a man and a man - which do you put your money on lasting?
- Do men and women each offer unique and important things to children?Of course. Freud and so many others acknowledge children's development processes, male and female, as being shaped by both men and women.
All of the above is *general.* The fact that straight couples can be horrible parents, gay couples can be amazing parents, that there are so many unwanted children who need homes; all of this and other reasons are why I support gay civil unions and equal legal rights. But the odds are stacked more in favor of straight couples than gay couples to create solid families. And solid families are the foundation of society. Thus, the importance to society for keeping same-sex marriage as its special designation. I appreciate you listening and granting my viewpoints respect on this forum.