A couple weeks ago, right on the heels of the Obergefell decision, a friend and blogger-extraordinairre contacted me with an intriguing invitation: did I want to participate in an online debate of sorts about gay “marriage?” (I’m going to drop the quotes at this point because it’s irritating to keep writing them, but suffice it to say that my position is not that I’m anti homosexual unions, but that by the very definition of the thing, gay “marriage” is physically and ontologically impossible. It literally can’t exist. Hence the quotes.)
Jenna’s idea was refreshingly simple: a back and forth exchange, conducted in charity and civility, with each party stating her position and explaining her reasons behind it. So she rallied a dear childhood friend from San Francisco and yours truly, introduced us to one another by remarking upon our mutual love for California, the Dave Matthews Band, and craft beers, and off we went.
It was fun, but more than that, it was encouraging that at no point did things devolve into name-calling. It was basically the opposite of every Facebook discussion that has ever taken place about anything. And so, in the spirit of hope for the future of public discourse, I’m going to be posting it here all week, inviting you to look over our shoulders as we debated. I hope it’s both instructive and maybe even a little bit inspirational? Not because we’re all that brilliant in our logic, but because here are two people about as fundamentally opposed as is humanly possible on this particular issue, and we didn’t drop any f-bombs or resort to yelling “bigot” in all caps.
So settle in and enjoy. And thanks to Jenna for hosting (and who has the entire exchange posted already, should you find yourselves too impatient to read it in installments. I bet I know how you like to watch your Downton Abbey episodes, too, amiright?)
I was sitting at work in DC when I heard the news of the ruling. It was coming off the heels of another SCOTUS decision upholding the ACA, and it felt to me like a SCOTUS magic week. The news started to ripple through my office, and we all cheered, breathed sighs of relief, and a few people were walking around waving equality flags that HRC was handing out across the street.
I dove into my iPhone to be sure I knew exactly what this ruling meant and when/how the decision would be implemented. The fact that it was immediate law and that couples could get married right away sounded almost too good to be true. I live in California where marriages have been legal and then annulled with the back-and-forth laws that have been state-driven.
Throughout the day, I started to hear stories like Jack and George, and I shed my cynicism and believed this could really be a turning point.
Quite simply, when I think about what this ruling will mean for the future of our country, I think it means that we are one step closer to equality and that the future is a little brighter. It means stories like Jack and George can finally be a thing of the past and that from this point forward, individuals can marry who they love and enjoy the legal and societal privileges that come with that.
I believe that the next generation will be astounded that this was ever a debate, much the same way that our generation can’t fathom that interracial marriage was illegal less than 50 years ago.
I do still have a very real concern for the future of LGBTQ rights in this country. Same sex marriage is a huge win, but it’s not the end of the fight. There is still incredible discrimination in employment and housing, for example, and the trans community remains one of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in the US. So, I know there’s a real possibility of the movement losing some momentum after this, which concerns me.
I must say though, this ruling has given me so much hope that hearts and minds really are changing and that acceptance in a concrete, legal form has finally been given to a large community.
My heart sank that Friday morning, when news of SCOTUS’ decision filtered down through my newsfeed. I was scrolling through the news and periodically raising my eyes above the screen to see my kids diving off the couches in the family room. My first thought was “what is this world they are going to inherit?”
My next thought was one that I’m convinced of more and more with each day that has passed since the ruling was handed down: “this is the Roe v. Wade of their generation.”
What I mean by that is twofold, one, that the High Court issued a mandate against the will of the people, as she did back in 1973, further eroding State’s rights and, along with them, the integrity of the American experiment a little more in the process, and two, my children will not grow up in a world without gay “marriage.”
Just as I have never known a world without abortion.
I’m not naive enough to think that our present culture places much value on marriage in any form in 2015. No fault divorce and contraception are rampant, and are lauded as fundamental human rights, so on the one hand, why not allow gay “marriage,” along with polygamy and incest and any other sexual arrangement that happens to come into vogue? We’re certainly not living, culturally speaking, an experience of marriage as a covenant of life-long fidelity and fruitfulness.
But I want more for my kids. I want them to see (please God, let them see) in their parent’s marriage the fruitfulness and the sanctifying grace of Christ present in the exchange of love between spouses. I want them to recognize the profound gift of new life in the face of each new sibling that comes along, and the awesome responsibility that we, their parents, have in co-creating and raising them.
And I want that for everyone else’s children, too.
I want them to experience this impossibly wide, self-denying and cross-carrying and soul-stretching love, whether they are called to the married life or to a celibate vocation. Because that is where real happiness lies. That’s where fulfillment of the deepest variety resides. And nothing the world can offer them in terms of popular sentiment or trending behavior can compete with that.
And so my job as a mother got a little harder on June 27th. Because now I must explain to these children of mine that not all laws are good, and that wherever our human laws stray from the natural law which is written on each of our hearts, there is tremendous suffering.
I see a unique opportunity here to impress upon them the incredible dignity of every human person – no matter their race, religion, sexual preference, socioeconomic status, and all the rest. Because there is surely a wrong way to teach the truth about love and human sexuality, and I’ve seen too much of that these past couple months.
But it’s scary to think that in teaching them the truth about their sexuality and how they were made – for communion with one unique and unrepeatable member of the opposite sex, if they are called to marriage – I am exercising what is now considered “hate speech.” I’ve been called a bigot 100 different ways online these past 3 weeks, and worse than that. Not because I’ve spoken ill of any gay person or suggested homosexuals deserve inferior treatment in the eyes of the law, but because I maintain that marriage is a unique arrangement fundamentally ordered toward the creation of new human life and,because of those new lives, is worthy of protection and distinction in the eyes of the law.
I don’t hate gay people. I don’t hate anyone.
And I don’t believe there is such a thing as gay “marriage,” no matter what 5 unelected public officials and the far more important court of public opinion says about the matter.
People should be allowed to love – and to contract legally binding arrangements with – whomever they please. In my own state, that was already the case.
But I also don’t actually believe this was ever about securing a legal right for a certain class of people, but was rather about abolishing one of the last vestiges of Judeo-Christian morality from American civil law. And it’s going to be a slippery descent downhill, as mentioned above. Because polygamy, incest, and the like are all coming. And on what grounds can we deny anyone a legally-binding and civilly-recognized sexual relationship with any other person – or creature – of their preference? No matter how self-harmful. No matter how disordered. No matter how utterly incapable of producing new life or of investing in the future of a stable and just society.
We can’t. And that’s the world we’re passing on to our children. Not a world of greater equality and opportunity, but of darkened reasoning and of bizarre sexual deviance that everyone will be required, by law, to applaud for with a straight face, affirming that each choice is equally good and loving and valid, because the tyranny of the individual will now rule over the greater common good.