National Catholic Register

Opinion

Everyone Loses

BY Jim Cosgrove

February 15-21, 2004 Issue | Posted 2/15/04 at 12:00 PM

 

The typical argument for homosexual marriage looks hard to refute. We shouldn't discriminate against homosexuals, right? After all, their sexual orientation is something they must live with, just like anybody else. Why deny them the benefits of marriage?

The logic of it seems inescapable, because each sentence in this line of reasoning has a large element of truth. Indeed, homosexuals should not be unfairly discriminated against. That many people must live with this orientation is undeniable.

But start questioning the argument's assumptions, and difficulties start to show.

Is marriage unfair discrimination?

Certainly denying homosexuals marriage “discriminates” against them. But, as author Stanley Kurtz points out, marriage “discriminates” against many people, not just homosexuals. It “discriminates” against single people, widowed people, celibate people, divorced people and so on. But is this discrimination unfair? No — because the reason society discriminates in favor of married couples is because marriage gives society a clear benefit: It produces children.

Marriage by its very nature is “discriminatory” in the sense that it recognizes that a man and a woman who have devoted themselves to each other for life are a benefit to society. Since they are a man and a woman, it is likely that children will come from their union. Since they promise to stay together, it is likely those children will be provided for, protected and their education will be seen to.

Yes, it “discriminates” against everyone who isn't a man and a woman who have pledged themselves to each other — and that's why it works.

But homosexuals suffer lots of unfair discrimination. Won't marriage help them?

It would help them — if it's their unmarried status that causes people to unfairly discriminate against them.

But that's not the real source of the problem, Kurtz writes. “The real source of the challenges of gay life is the problem of sexual difference. It is terribly difficult to grow up with a different sort of sexuality than most of the world around you. Marriage does not cause this problem, and it cannot solve it.

“Yet, out of understandable compassion for the sorrows and difficulties of gays, many Americans want to offer marriage as a kind of consolation or remedy for the challenges inherent in the gay situation. The increased social tolerance for gays in America is largely a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. But using marriage to accomplish a purpose for which it was not intended — and which it cannot fulfill — will not fundamentally alter the situation of gays.”

What it will do is fundamentally alter marriage. When homosexuals marry, marriage will cease to be society's way of promoting and protecting the procreation of children.

And that brings us to the last part of that argument: Is the homosexual lifestyle a healthy alternative to the heterosexual lifestyle?

Homosexual men and women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, just like everybody else. It doesn't follow, however, that homosexual sexual practices are a healthy alternative to monogamous heterosexual lifestyles. In fact, it can be stated as a medical fact that such practices are not healthy. Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons recently spelled out the medical consequences of homosexual sex in an interview with Zenit.

“The sexual practices of homosexuals involve serious health risks and illness,” he said. “Specifically, sodomy as a sexual behavior is associated with significant and life-threatening health problems.”

In other words, the argument for homosexual marriage gets it all wrong. If homosexual marriage is legalized, unfair discrimination against homosexuals will continue. Marriage will lose its status as the unique institution that brings children into the world and protects them. Harmful and deadly sexual practices will be given special honor by the law.

If homosexual marriage looks like a win-win for society, look again. If it's legalized, everyone loses.