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Opposition to Gay Marriage is Not Discrimination
RABBI ARYEH SPERO
The claim being made by advocates of gay marriage is that the ban of gay marriage is simply about prejudice. They are wrong.
Rightly so, Mike Long, chairman of the New York State Conservative Party, has called on Attorney General Elliot Spitzer to halt New Paltz, New York's mayor from issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples.
This flouting of the state law by the mayor and inaction by the attorney general, as in California, shows how liberals often disregard social and moral laws with which they disagree, arguing their loyalty is to conscience.
Contrast this with the across the board calls for Alabama's attorney general a Republican to restrain Judge Roy Moore from displaying the Ten Commandments after a panel of judges ruled it illegal. The Republican attorney general complied and followed the law.
The claim being made by advocates of gay marriage and its editorial proponents such as the New York Times (November 20, 2003) is, the ban of gay marriage is simply about prejudice. They are wrong, for discrimination means that because of prejudice we do not allow a person of a particular race, religion or sexual orientation to participate in our existing institutions or enjoy the same activities others do.
But no one in America would deny an avowed homosexual man to get married, like all other men, to a woman. Nor is the law prejudiced against any proclaimed lesbian wishing, like other women, to marry a man. Who they are does not enter the equation.
Whatever their announced orientation, homosexuals have the same right as everyone else to marriage as defined, across the board, by our laws and history: the union of one man (whatever his sexual orientation) to one woman (whatever her orientation). The existing institution of marriage is open to all.
Marriage is a contract, and as with all contracts there are elements that define it and superimpose on those committing to it. For the contract to be legal and binding, each party to it must abide by its inherent elements. In this case, the elements are one man, one woman.
The problem lies not in the "wannabes" because of whom they are, but rather because what they want to do does not exist for anybody. Green is not red; and the rules of football do not extend to baseball simply because it is also a sport.
In times past when blacks were denied the right to vote, it was discrimination since others had that right. When in certain locales in deep medieval Europe Jews were forbidden to marry it was discrimination since all others could marry. These were discriminations and exclusions born of prejudice based not on what but who.
Once given the right to marry, it would have been preposterous for a Jew to claim discrimination if the state outlawed him from marrying, for example, an aunt. Nor could a black man cry discrimination if after being given the right to vote he demanded that he be allowed to vote while underage.
The New York Times sermonizes that denying gays marriage deprives them of equal protection. That argument is erroneous, for when we allow people of differing religion, race, gender or sexual orientation to participate and share in categories defined equally for all, discrimination does not exist.
Certainly prejudice against homosexuals is not at the root of those wishing to preserve the integrity of marriage. Those opposed to gay marriage do not advocate against homosexuals the historic discriminations — such as denial of voting, housing, employment, etc.
That the issue revolves around a definition and not the people involved is clear when considering the following scenario: what if two straight guys decided to get married for the singular purpose of bypassing all sorts of business legalities and "lawyering" in order to create community property from their combined two businesses.
Though they are not homosexual, the law would still deny them a license to marry, since the union of two men does not fall within the definition of marriage, even where homosexuality is not involved. It is not the homosexuality per se but the union of the same-gendered that is oxymoronic with marriage.
All things are not the same. However, through the unanswered assertions of moral relativism, all things are deemed the same, and thus meaningless.
The problem bedeviling society over the last forty years is more than having been asked to tolerate and accept modes of conduct heretofore outside the respectable pale. It is that those engaged in those activities demand that society redefine its institutions and overturn cherished and wise traditions in order not only to accommodate but also affirm as equally legitimate and desirable such activities. Most often, they are accorded special privileges, with the government zealously targeting employers to meet quotas and, first, prove their innocence in hiring and rental practices if they are to be free from penalization.
What begins as a person's or group's desire for private, individual expression always ends up with that activity being given public sanctification, with regular citizens bearing the financial costs.
These redefinitions result in the banalization and degradation of the previously accepted standards and practices. Worse, language is reconfigured so that, for example, husbands are simply partners, wives are simply spouses. Sex education will be forced to teach about the alternatively valid homosexual marriage, and woe to those parents and students who balk: the power of the government will come down upon them harshly.
Will churches and synagogues that cite Scripture forbidding such marriage be indicted for hate speech? They will be! We hear about homosexual rights, never first realizing that what ultimately will be taken from most everyone else will be freedom of speech and religion; our privacy itself. Our tolerance for the unconventional will result in federal intolerance for the conventional, the necessary.
The upshot, as we have seen with other causes, is the diminution, marginalization and even disempowerment of those too mainstream to be counted among the exotic or preferrentialed minorities. Quite often that is precisely the underlying, ulterior motive of the iconoclast and gatecrasher.
Rabbi Aryeh Spero. "Opposition to Gay Marriage is Not Discrimination." The Free Congress Foundation (March, 2004).
This article reprinted with permission from Rabbi Spero and The Free Congress Foundation.
The Free Congress Foundation is a 27-year-old Washington, DC-based conservative think tank, that teaches people how to be effective in the political process, advocates judicial reform, promotes cultural conservatism, and works against the government encroachment of individual liberties.
Rabbi Aryeh Spero is President of Caucus for America.
Copyright © 2004 The Free Congress Foundation