How Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me
In response to opposition of same-sex marriage, an often used retort from homosexual activists and their supporters is “Same-sex marriage will not affect you, so why not let homosexuals marry each other?”
Firstly, as Bill Muehlenburg wrote in his book “WHY vs WHY Gay Marriage”, the evidence shows that countries with pro-homosexual legislation and same-sex marriage have been a disaster for heterosexual marriage and the well-being of children. Consider Scandinavia. Stanley Kurtz, who has a doctorate in social anthropology from Harvard University, has documented how marriage and children have suffered there. In 2004 he wrote:
Marriage is slowly dying in Scandinavia. A majority of children in Sweden and Norway are born out of wedlock. Sixty percent of firstborn children in Denmark have unmarried parents. Not coincidentally these countries have had something close to full gay marriage for a decade or more. Same-sex marriage has locked in and reinforced an existing Scandinavian trend towards the separation of marriage and parenthood. The Nordic family pattern – including gay marriage – is spreading across Europe. And by looking closely at it we can answer the key empirical question underlying the gay marriage debate. Will same-sex marriage undermine the institution of marriage? It already has.
More precisely, it has further undermined the institution. The separation of marriage from parenthood was [already] increasing; gay marriage has widened the separation. Out-of-wedlock birth rates were rising; gay marriage has added to the factors pushing those rates higher. Instead of encouraging a society-wide return to marriage, Scandinavian gay marriage has driven home the message that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood is acceptable.
Later in 2006, Kurtz wrote:
Shifting to a broad ‘menu’ of experimental family forms may feel liberating to some, but it is really a recipe for thinning out society’s commitment to children. Each unconventional experiment reinforces the others, ultimately yielding a significantly less stable family regime. Which is to say, gay marriage undermines marriage.
To be fair, Stanley Kurtz’s conclusions did not sit well with many people, who trotted out the usual accusations against him. When I did a brief search on the issue (here and here), I found that the most reasoned response given was that his figures are wrong. The counter claim is that marriage rates have increased and that non-marital birth rates increased at a lesser rate since same-sex legislation was introduced. The problem I have with these responses is that their figures are asserted but not referenced. While Kurtz’s article falls into the same category, he at least, seems more of an authority on the matter as a degree qualified Social Anthropologist. His response to any counter-claim on his figures is found in his original article:
What about Spedale’s report that the Danish marriage rate increased 10 percent from 1990 to 1996? Again, the news only appears to be good. First, there is no trend. Eurostat’s just-released marriage rates for 2001 show declines in Sweden and Denmark (Norway hasn’t reported). Second, marriage statistics in societies with very low rates (Sweden registered the lowest marriage rate in recorded history in 1997) must be carefully parsed. In his study of the Norwegian family in the nineties, for example, Christer Hyggen shows that a small increase in Norway’s marriage rate over the past decade has more to do with the institution’s decline than with any renaissance. Much of the increase in Norway’s marriage rate is driven by older couples “catching up.” These couples belong to the first generation that accepts rearing the first born child out of wedlock. As they bear second children, some finally get married. (And even this tendency to marry at the birth of a second child is weakening.) As for the rest of the increase in the Norwegian marriage rate, it is largely attributable to remarriage among the large number of divorced.
Spedale’s report of lower divorce rates and higher marriage rates in post-gay marriage Denmark is thus misleading. Marriage is now so weak in Scandinavia that shifts in these rates no longer mean what they would in America. In Scandinavian demography, what counts is the out-of-wedlock birthrate, and the family dissolution rate.
I’ll leave it up to the reader to determine who you think is in error.
I did find, however, an interesting article in USA Today which backs up Kurtz’s conclusions in relation to the attitudes towards marriage and parenthood. In fact, they even paint a bleaker picture with their figures of 82% of couples having their first child out of wedlock. USA Today claim that “…it’s clear marriage in parts of Scandinavia is dying.” Now, USA Today is not going to connect any dots anywhere close to gay marriage. But something changed in those nations to cause marriage to be viewed as “largely meaningless.”
One part of the article in USA Today I did find interesting was a section which addressed the reason why some couples were deciding to get married later in life, and thus propping up the marriage figures.
One remaining incentive to marry is inheritance rights. If one parent dies, the other parent inherits if the couple are married. If not, the assets go to the children.
That’s why Espen Aasen and Trine Anker got married four years ago. They had been living together for 10 years and had two children. Then, they bought a book on how to draw up a partnership contract, which many couples do to protect their assets in case of a breakup. In the end, they decided it was easier to get married.
In Bill’s book, he goes on to say that religious institutions are also effected by same-sex legislation citing one recent example:
Catholic charities USA in Washington, DC has had to radically alter its policies because of the recent introduction of same-sex marriage there. As American social analyst Charles Colson explains:
“In connection with the new law, the DC council insists that, as a city contractor, Catholic Charities had to offer the same benefits to same-sex couples that it did to heterosexual ones. …Catholic Charities had to choose between church teaching and ministering to the cities neediest residents” as a result.
Whenever a new right is created, corresponding obligations also come into play. If a state decrees that same-sex marriage is legal, then every individual and organisation dealing with marriage must ensure that these new rights are met and facilitated. Jews, Christians, Muslims and numerous other religious groups will all be forced to violate their own beliefs and teachings.
Incidentally, Bill also goes on to point out that not that many homosexuals want same-sex marriage anyway:
The percentage of homosexuals who want marriage rights is very small indeed. In Australia, studies have found that only about a fifth of homosexuals and lesbians have shown an interest in same-sex marriage.
Perhaps the best way to gauge the desirability of same-sex marriage is the number of homosexuals who avail themselves of it when it is legally available. Same-sex marriage has been legal in the Netherlands since 2001 yet only about 4 per cent of Dutch homosexuals married during the first five years of legislation
The American state of Massachusetts legalised same-sex marriage in 2004 and in the first several years perhaps as much as 16 percent of the state’s homosexuals took advantage of the change. That is larger than the Dutch, but still a very small minority. And in many cases, percentages dropped after the initial “rush” following legislation.
My own personal musings on this issue have focussed on a more personal effect that same-sex marriage has on me as a Christian. Part of the role of a Christian is to witness to the lost. This is mandated in the Bible. This witness can be simply summed up as to what Jesus has done for us – saved us from having to pay for our sins ourselves. A critical element of this is repentance of those sins. And in order to repent of any sin we need to be able to identify it “as” sin. So when society deems same-sex marriage legal, it is also affirming homosexual relationships and behaviour as morally “good” or benign. This makes it that much harder for the Christian to be able to reach society with the gospel message of repentance and redemption. How can you get clean if you don’t think you’re dirty.
And it’s not just homosexual activists pushing same-sex marriage that is influencing society in this way. The media has been influencing society subtly for years into softening resistance to the homosexual lifestyle amongst the populace. From Seinfeld’s “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” to a myriad of sit.coms and dramas which have homosexual sub-plots and themes: Glee, Modern Family, Bones, Friends and The Good Wife to name just a few of the more recent ones I have noticed. Not to mention the full on pro-homosexual shows like Will and Grace.
Don’t get me wrong, homosexuality is not the only sin that is having this kind of effect on society and thus the ability of the Christian to communicate with the populace. So many sins as identified in the Bible get the same treatment; lust, greed, pride, selfishness, anger, promiscuity/sex outside or marriage, gossip etc. It just happens to be same-sex marriage and homosexuality that is headlining at the moment.