What's Wrong With Gay Marriage And The Traditional Family
Let me start out by saying that as a straight African-American male, I don’t profess to understand just what homosexuality is insomuch as human behavior. Most conservative Christians don’t believe that God would “make” someone gay by intent. And biologists, those scientists who have succeeded in mapping the human genome, are not fully able to explain or understand homosexuality’s place in human evolution; it simply doesn't jive with that linchpin of evolutionary theory that all living creatures tend to engage in behavior which contributes to the procreation of their species. Many who say that homosexuality is an integral part of the natural order often cite the occurrence of the same behavior in animals. Others say that fact doesn't fully support that homosexuality is “normal behavior;” hoarding is also a tendency which exists in the animal kingdom, but is considered a psychiatric disorder as of the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). However, my point of focus is the place of homosexuality within the traditional family.
I’m one of those older men who grew up with the understanding that traditional families consisted of men, women and children--that being a homosexual was some deviant behavior of choice; and that calling a gay man a “sissy” was a way of acknowledging his lower status in the social hierarchy. But as I matured, I developed the understanding that gay people—aside from their sexual preferences—are like everyone else. They have their own likes, dislikes, passions, hopes, careers, and aspirations. I've worked with them, have broken bread with them, and even laughed with them. They are people whom like myself deserve respect as well as the same legal protections from discrimination in hiring, housing, and otherwise fair treatment.
However, I'd like to state that I harbor rational-based—as opposed to religious-, personal-, or ideological-based—reservations with regards to gay people and the redefining of the traditional family unit. Whether you are gay, straight, conservative, liberal, radical, or reactionary, the truth of the matter is that every society in the modern (as well the traditional) world was more stable, more value-oriented, and relatively more peaceful when the traditional nuclear family was the center social unit of focus and support. And I’m fully aware that speaking out in any way with thinking or ideas which don’t promote or adhere to the liberal climate of ever-growing support of gay rights will probably find me on the receiving end of accusations of my being unreasonable, behind-the-times, misguided, or even homophobic...no matter how thoroughly I outline my rational thinking. But for better or worse, I’m an adherent of traditional institutions…proven institutions. And whatever you think, no social institution is as proven as the traditional nuclear family in promoting both familial and social stability.
What’s more, the traditional nuclear family—man, woman, and children/children—is the basic family unit upon how and which man has flourished as a species. Any attempt to revise the definition of what constitutes a “family” ignores both the near entirety of human history, as well as the importance of the traditional family as the basic unity of humanity as a species. Simply put, the traditional nuclear family was the vehicle for how man evolved from nomadic hunters and gathers to a fixed civilized species. And it’s conceivable that extending legally-recognized marriage and family to include units headed by gay couples would slow that progress to some extent.
To this point, the notion that gay marriage is a “Constitutional right” stands in the face of reason. The basis for this position is that marriage itself is not a “right,” but a social institution which is legally-recognized as a type of contract between spouses. No one, gay or straight, has any more a legal “right” to be married as they do a right to find a partner in life…or even a right to be loved. And putting aside the individual concern we might have for the happiness of gay relatives, co-workers, and friends, rational rather than passionate thinking supports the conclusion that the Founding Fathers could not have possibly conceived of the idea that two adults of the same sex would ever want to enter into sexual relations—yet alone want to marry. Granted, there was a great deal of flexibility written into the Constitution in order to adapt to changing social values when it was crafted, embracing the notion that gay marriage is a Constitutional right stretches this reality beyond all imagining of the Framers living in a period when homosexuality was statutorily (and biblically) prohibited and punishable by death (See: "Homosexuals And the Death Penalty In Colonial America").
And with heterosexual couples' inability to seemingly get along (as evidenced by their divorce rate and lower numbers of marriage among them), gay marriage is an idea which further erodes the institution of the traditional family. This is especially true among minority families, with some 73% of black and 53% of Latino children born out of wedlock (See: "For women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside of Marriage"). The last thing either of these socioeconomically disadvantaged groups needs is for any group to revise the structure and meaning of the traditional family unit when said unit has been decimated by sociological forces both within and without among these groups (the same unit which held these groups together under the trials of their individual experiences in America until recent times). The fact that blacks, as escaped slaves were documented as traveling hundreds of miles on foot in order to attempt to reunite this most basic of family units as each member was sold into slavery and taken away is an illustration of how unifying the traditional family was once in America. The upshot is that the dual attack of weakening heterosexual values toward the traditional family, and homosexual aspirations of legal recognition of marriage among their group are working in tandem to erode the institution of the traditional family.
The well-intentioned, but overly-progressive push to extend equal rights to include gay marriage as a legally-recognized “right” is nothing more than an attempt to revise the entire whole of human history. Man and his (various) civilizations were built on the basic unit of the traditional family unit, with little in the way of varying definitions since the most ancient of times. Whether you’re believer or atheist, gay or straight, no one can argue that most societies with a strong presence of the traditional family were more—for better or worse—orderly, lacked the runaway levels of socioeconomic pathologies we see exhibited in much of today’s America, and fostered a sense of similar goals and aspirations rather than the ideological discord we see evident in today’s America.