I’m 19, I’m a university student, I use social media, I play video games…and I oppose gay marriage. According to the polls and the stereotypes, I’m an anomaly.
This reflects the success the gay marriage lobby has had in selling its message of “marriage equality” among youth. It has very effective talking points: that marriage currently discriminates against gays, denying them their individual rights to express their love, and that two people of the same sex marrying each other doesn’t affect anyone else.
These are emotionally compelling for my generation because of its infatuation with equality. Broad notions of egalitarianism are drummed into school students: we learn extensively about civil rights movements and are told countless times to respect all fellow students. “Equality is good.” “Discrimination is bad.”
Proponents of gay marriage exploit this by framing the debate in terms of gay rights, causing youth to instinctively fall back on platitudes of parity and ignore all other issues in the debate.
In addition, the constant mantra that gay marriage is “inevitable” and that younger generations are all in favour of it, as perpetuated by the gay marriage lobby, much media and by peer pressures that influence many young people into supporting it. They succumb to the group think mentality. As a result, they miss the logical fallacies in the case for gay marriage.
Firstly, there is far more to marriage than love and expression of love. If love were the only criteria for a marriage, then we would allow almost every conceivable type of relationship to be recognised as a marriage.
Also, the idea that the legal definition of marriage, meaning the social significance a nation attaches to marriage, doesn’t affect society is an oxymoron. Marriage laws are fundamentally a question of what’s best for society rather than a question of individual rights.
Furthermore, marriage must discriminate to have meaning. Defining marriage itself is an act of discrimination because it is saying what marriage is and what it isn’t, by definition.
Once we get past these distractions, we can get to the core of the debate, which is simply this: should we have a special status for heterosexual relationships, as is the status quo? It isn’t “homophobic” to answer that heterosexual relationships make a unique contribution to society and marriage is a recognition of this.
Heterosexual relationships are unique in that they are orientated to procreation. They involve organic bodily union, through coitus, as part of the natural cycle of life and fundamental to the survival of humanity. The communal significance of this is acknowledged by society through marriage. Changing the legal definition of marriage to accommodate gay couples would mean the institution losing its significance.
Now, the standard rebuttal of this argument is that some marriages don’t produce children for various reasons, such as infertility, and therefore procreation is unrelated to marriage. This misses the point: heterosexual relationships as a whole, not any given one relationship, are an essential part of society by their very physical nature. Individual married heterosexual couples who don’t or can’t produce children at a given point in time doesn’t change the nature of the relationship – children not being produced is only incidental. With relationships between two people of the same sex, however, procreation isn’t just impossible incidentally, it’s impossible in principle – the very nature of the relationship means it isn’t possible. The current definition of marriage recognises that heterosexual relationships are naturally orientated to procreation, and most marriages fulfill this.
Given that marriage is naturally linked to children, it is unsurprising that the social science indicates that the optimal family structure for a child is to be raised by its married biological parents. The newly released study For Kids’ Sake, by Professor Patrick Parkinson AM from the University of Sydney, concluded that:
“…if there is one major demographic change in western societies that can be linked to a large range of adverse consequences for many children and young people, it is the growth in the numbers of children who experience life in a family other than living with their two biological parents, at some point before the age of 15.”
Additionally, a study by the American Witherspoon Institute Ten Principles on Marriage and the Public Good in 2008, which compiled the conclusions of dozens of the relevant sociological studies, found that children raised in intact homes by their wedded biological parents, taking into account other factors such as family income, fared best in terms of emotional health, educational achievement, and sexual development, to name just a few indicators.
Of course, some gay couples are better parents than some married heterosexual couples, but the principle remains that a child being raised by its biological parents is the ideal. It makes sense, therefore, for the government to recognise and encourage this, as it does currently by the institution of marriage.
The practical consequences of gay marriage for children and society would be long-term but still very concerning. It would change the institution of marriage from being centred around the production and well-being of children to being based on the self-fulfilment of adults. It would obscure the value of opposite-sex parenting as an ideal, taking away the special status marriage gives to the best arrangement for the upbringing of children. Society departing from the favourable norm in this way would adversely impact children, forcing the state to have a larger role in their welfare, such as in education and health.
The current definition of marriage acts as a bedrock of our society by recognising the intact, natural family as what we know to be the ideal.