I’m against “gay marriage”, and I can explain why without delving into religion, but given all my strong leanings towards individual liberty and freedom, my reasons may surprise you.
Question: Why do we have Marriage?
I’m not asking “why do people get married”? That would be stupid! Or at least the kind of stupid question whose “obvious” answer could fill the textbooks for several Masters Degree programs. In light of the fact that people have been getting married since before there were either religions or governments, the long form of my question is really “Why do we have this thing we refer to as the legally recognized ‘institution of marriage’?” Why do we have to get a marriage license? Why does someone – a preacher, priest, judge, Starfleet captain, Subgenii or other licensed minister – generally find themselves compelled to utter some version of the phrase “by the powers vested in me by the State of Wherever-we-are, I now pronounce you (up until just recently only) man and wife”?
I mean even back in the day when the State not only had no means to track every single last detail of your life, but also frankly didn’t care to, we still had marriage licenses, so the current pervasive domestic spying trend can’t be to blame…
A clue can be found in how we look at weddings (or more precisely, the whole “greater wedding experience” if you’ll bear with me), since they’re the traditional beginnings of a marriage. It’s a pretty selfish endeavor. And if the word “selfish” bothers you in this context, let’s use the softer “self-centered” because I don’t mean this as a criticism. And as any bridesmaid would shout at you if you complained the bride was being “self-centered”, IT’S HER DAY YOU JERK!!!
And it is HER day. Despite repeated and probably eternal attempts to make it “their” day, it really isn’t. Human nature, especially as it plays out in grooms, makes it such. And that’s OK. It’s her day. Let’s roll the clock back to just before the wedding, and look at the focus of each major member of this dance:
The Bride: If all is going even reasonably well (as defined as “not completely coming apart at the seems, with in-laws literally at each others’ throats”) then she’s walking around in a nigh-pseudo-orgasmic state on the cusp of HER BIG DAY!!!
The Groom: He’s looking forward to getting out of his tux and on with the Honeymoon. Sorry, ladies, but it’s true – he may be a wonderful man, but he’s also a stereotypical cliché.
The Parents: They’re rightly concerned about the costs. They have other concerns too, of course, including hopes for grandchildren, but before the wedding it’s generally all about the bills they’re racking up.
The State: It’s concerned with the perpetuation of The State, and is prepared to grant “Special Rights and Privileges” as incentives for people to get married, and to stay married, in order to further this goal.
Wait, what? You don’t remember The State being at your wedding? Sure you remember the Matron of Honor looked like an underdone lobster, and little Suzette couldn’t find the high notes in that special “tribute to the loving couple” song if she’d had a map (and she didn’t have a map, and it was a loooong trip), but where was The State?
You were standing in it. Don’t you remember? You signed the marriage license, right along with whomever performed the ceremony. That was The State right there, granting you not only permission, but also a legally elevated social status – “Special Rights and Privileges” – as a reward for going through with it all.
Why? Well what… I guess I can’t say “God forsaken” reason…but what Puritanical Right-Wing 1st-Amendement Separation of Church ‘n State violating Neolithic Cys-Cro-Magnon-originated oppressive abomination allows The State to say men and women can get married but that homosexuals can’t? What about personal happiness? What about equal rights? What about two men who really love each other and are a long-term devoted couple? What about Heather’s Two Mommies?
What about (yes, let’s go there) polygamy?
Allow me to speak for The State to answer some of the above.
Q: Who allows The State to make these rules?
The State: The State does. Deal with it.
Q: What about personal happiness?
The State: I don’t care about your personal happiness. That’s your business. I care about what benefits The State, and therefore have to take the long, historical view of things. In fact (editorializing a bit) those parts of The State which make a big play of actually caring about your personal happiness are just trying to seduce you into being dependent voting blocks, and should rightly be viewed as cancers in the Body Politic.
Q: What about equal rights?
The State: Not meaning to sound flippant, but you already have equal rights. A gay man is just as free to marry a woman as is a straight man. He may not ever care to do so, but he certainly has that right. You’ll predictably follow up with “That’s not what I meant – I obviously meant the equal right to marry whomever he wishes.” Well, I – The State – did indeed already know that, and my answer is the same. Marrying someone of your same gender is not in the best interests of the perpetuation of The State, at all, and thus The State finds no compelling reason to grant you “Special Rights and Privileges” in order to induce you to get, and to stay, married. By the way, don’t get your nose all out of joint over this – the prohibitions against heterosexual incestuous marriage have the same origin, as does making even consensual adult incest a crime.
Q: What about two men who really love each other and are a long-term devoted couple?
The State: I wish you well. You obviously do not need the State’s endorsement to have a happy, long-term relationship. But please recognize that your happy, long-term relationship does nothing to perpetuate The State because such relationships do not produce offspring. Wait! Wait! Yes, I know ALL ABOUT the “gay adoption” issue, but we’re talking “gay marriage” here. Even though the deck is naturally stacked against them, if a gay couple adopt and successfully raise a child to be a healthy, happy, productive member of society, that child still did not originate with THEM. I – The State – am completely in favor of adoption, which is precisely why THE STATE GRANTS SPECIAL RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES TO ADOPTIVE PARENTS simply because they’re adoptive parents. And you don’t need a gay marriage license to be an adoptive parent.
What about Heather’s Two Mommies?
The State: Asked and answered.
The State is concerned with the perpetuation of The State.
Which means: CHILDREN.
No matter your own personal experience, and no matter how many true and tragic cases of child abuse and neglect you can cite, the historical, statistical and provable truth is that children are best raised in homes where there are both a loving mother and father.
I’m not knocking single parents when I make this point. I’m saying that no matter how wonderful a single parent is (and there’s plenty of them), it would be better off for the child if that single parent found an equally wonderful heterosexual partner. Which admittedly is often seemingly impossible, but that doesn’t change the stats or the government policies supported by them.
Q: What about (yes, let’s go there) polygamy?
The State: Polygamy is better for perpetuating The State than is homosexual marriage – in fact infinitely so – but it is still not as good as monogamous marriage for a couple of reasons, some of which have to do with the nature of polygamy and some of which are dependent on outside factors in our culture. Let me lay this out:
1) Our country has a welfare system. Polygamous marriages, even though illegal, commonly end up saddling the welfare system with multiple dependents the parents cannot afford. In fact, this is overwhelmingly the case. Instances of wealthy or at least entirely self-supporting polygamous marriages are vanishingly rare. The argument can be made that removing the welfare system, or at least the part of it which props up such dependants, should remove the cause for their prohibition, and certainly The State feels this is something the Body Politic has a right to decide. But that’s not the current situation.
2) The population of our citizenry is fairly close to gender parity. Despite male adolescent dreams of legally having multiple hot wives, the truth is that (unlike wealth created through free market forces) the “marriage candidate” pool really does function as a “zero-sum game”. If a rich man marries a dozen women, all of whom he can support, that takes 11 women out of consideration for 11 bachelors. Furthermore, emotionally, psychologically, and behaviorally the likely many offspring of these dozen women are if not technically fatherless then nearly so as one man’s attention and time can only be spread so thin. A child may have their mother’s devotion, but much less so their father’s, when compared to the child of a monogamous couple.
3) Polygamous marriages produce fewer offspring. A man with a dozen wives is statistically less likely to have as many children as a dozen average couples, even if he fathers children with all his wives.
Overall, whether we’re talking about the children of polygamous marriages being a (likely) drain on The State’s resources, or the likelihood of the children not growing to be as well-rounded adults as might otherwise be the case, or simply that they’re just not as comparatively plentiful, your average statistical polygamous offspring are not as attractive to The State as are the children of heterosexual couples for furthering The State’s goal of perpetuating The State.
Whew! Enough Commie-talk! I find it hard to speak as The State without continuously wanting to go brush my teeth!
When I explained all this to a dear friend of mine a couple of years ago – and he’s a straight man who was (and may still be) pro-gay-marriage, largely (I think) based on his pro-individual-freedom leanings (which I generally share), he was surprised because he thought explaining my pro-traditional-marriage stance would involve a lot of Bible thumping. His response was essentially “I hadn’t thought about it that way… but that makes my argument not so much “pro-gay” marriage as it is “anti-State-recognized” marriage, to which I agreed.
Trends come and go, and this trend towards recognizing gay marriage may outlive us all, but in the (well, I can’t say “end”), uh, eventual eventuality, things will swing around, because humans are humans, we make up The State, and it is crystal clear to The State (see any and all recent elections on the subject, judges’ subsequent rulings notwithstanding) that incentivising monogamous marriage is one of the best ways The State has of perpetuating The State*, which – believe me – is something The State always wants very badly to do.
It is also one of the vanishingly few areas where I find myself generally siding with The State.
But I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.
We’ve got bigger fish to fry.
*There are certainly others, like having a strong military defense, a robust economy, not having traitorous crooks in high office, etc.