My piece on gay marriage advocates outing the nature of gay relationships brought quite a reaction. However, I think the reflexive defensiveness missed the main points of the article.
The responses to the article can be summed up in the following points:
– This is a lie pushed by religious fanatic bigots!
– Maybe it’s true, but who cares? Straight partners cheat too.
– Maybe it’s true, but who cares? How do open marriages subvert marriage?
This first response completely ignores what was actually written. This isn’t some fanatic, hater, bigotry, or <insert your favorite invective here> based argument. This was a compilation of gay authors and activists writing about a study conducted by gay activists which found that a majority of gay couples aren’t monogamous…and agreeing with those findings. One even said the findings probably undershot the percentage of gay couples in non monogamous relationships. This is a pretty straightforward part of the post, and ignoring that makes the charges of bigotry not a little ironic.
The “but straight partners cheat too” argument perhaps understandably misses the significance of the second part of San Francisco State University’s findings. Not only did the study find that a majority of gay couples aren’t monogamous, but as the Gawker piece I linked to noted, they found that they were so with their partner knowing, consenting, even encouraging.
It’s not a matter of cheating in an ostensibly monogamous relationship. It’s that the study authors found that a majority of gay relationships are a different kind of relationship altogether. So when critics of the original post point out that straight marriages sometimes end because some couples cheat, they’re only furthering my point. Marriage, as commonly understood, is supposed to be monogamous. That’s why affairs are called cheating. In fact, 99% of straight couples expect monogamy in marriage, and the breaking of that vow is a leading cause of divorce. But according to SFSU’s findings, and the gay authors citing it, that’s not how the majority of gay unions view their relationships. A fact that, according to Gawker, has been commonly known in the gay community, but not discussed openly for fear of damaging the gay marriage movement:
The gay rights movement has made a calculated decision to highlight the similarities, not the differences, between straight and gay love on the road to marriage equality.
And in The Daily Beast, another gay author, citing the same SFSU study, writes about these differences finally coming out in the open,
it’s been fascinating to see how my straight friends react to it. Some feel they’ve been duped: They were fighting for marriage equality, not marriage redefinition.
Gay marriage is a redefining of marriage. Which is what conservatives have been saying all along, and what gay activists have known all along but are just now willing to say out loud.
The third question is related to the second: Maybe the data is true, but who cares? How do “open marriages” subvert the institution of marriage? As we just discussed, it’s redefining what marriage is. It’s changing the very institution of marriage. The gay authors I cited acknowledge this, but then argue the sexual liberation that will be brought to marriage through these open relationships will be an improvement on traditional marriage. Which is certainly their argument to make. However, it hasn’t been until just recently that they’ve started to make it.
The push for gay marriage was never “let gay marriage improve your marriages by changing societal norms regarding infidelity”. No, the public relations effort was about “equality” and simply expanding traditional marriage while keeping it intact. By their own admission, this isn’t telling the whole story.
In my original article I begin by remembering a piece by sociologist Stanley Kurtz written eight years ago called “Zombie Killers”. In it he cites several scholarly works by gay marriage advocates promoting the subversion of marriage via gay unions. Princeton professor Robert George’s book “What Is Marriage?” (which I highly recommend) takes an even more in-depth look at what these activists and scholars have been saying but which have been held back from the movement’s PR campaigns. Some quotes from the book:
EJ Graff, author:
Gay marriage would change the “institution’s message” so that it would “ever after stand for sexual choice. It announces that marriage has changed shape.”
“Anti-equality right-wingers have long insisted that allowing gays to marry will destroy the sanctity of “traditional marriage,” and, of course, the logical, liberal party-line response has long been “No, it won’t.” But what if-for once-the sanctimonious crazies are right? Could the gay male tradition of open relationships actually alter marriage as we know it? And would that be such a bad thing?”
Bush is correct…when he states that allowing same-sex couples to marry will weaken the institution of marriage. It most certainly will do so, and that will make marriage a far better concept than it previously has been.
Professor Ellen Willis:
conferring the legitimacy of marriage on homosexual relations will introduce an implicit revolt against the institution into its very heart.
Demand the right to marry not as a way of adhering to society’s moral codes but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution. Fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, because the most subversive action lesbians and gay men can undertake…is to transform the notion of “family” entirely.
These are all gay activists and proponents of same sex unions making the case that gay marriage undermines marriage. As Professor George puts it,
“Again, these are not our words, but those of leading supporters of same-sex civil marriage. If you believe in permanence and exclusivity but would redefine civil marriage, take note.”
In short, after a thorough reading of the evidence, and despite an often angry debate, conservatives and progressives agree on one thing with regards to same-sex civil unions: It undermines traditional marriage.
- Michaelson: Gay Culture Will Affect Marriage, Not the Other Way Around (str.typepad.com)
- The Evolution Of Marriage (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- It’s Now Safe For Gay Marriage Activists To Come Out Of The Closet (productiveactivities.wordpress.com)
- Should pro-marriage activists give up in the face of judicial activism? (winteryknight.wordpress.com)
- Digging for Truth in the “Gay Christian” Debates (juicyecumenism.com)