Saturday, December 6, 2008

Civil Unions are bad for marriage!

Even some of my most liberal straight friends, individuals for whom I have a great deal of respect, balk at the thought of same-sex marriage. And when I question them, they inevitably reply with the same, sheepish answer: marriage should be reserved for mixed-sex couples.

I nod my head and say, “Uh-huh, uh-huh,” being empathetic, turning on my empathic listening skills with just a slight tone of irony as if Jack McFarland really meant it, then query, “So why is that? Why should marriage be reserved for mixed-sex couples?” They know I’ve caught them because just as they are about to answer, they stop, look at me, and their faces redden with embarrassment. And then the coy child in them comes out as they admit they have no other reason beyond the fact they cannot get over their Judeo-Christian upbringing.

As reluctantly as they admit it, admit it they must: they believe marriage to be sanctified by God, and the great Yaweh has issues with moes getting married.

But then they’ll nod their heads like some happy mutt and quickly say, “But I’m OK with civil unions. I think you should have all those benefits. Just don’t call it marriage.”

Oh sure, I have straight friends who will tell me to my face that they believe gays ought to be able to marry. But I really wonder how they voted when the state constitutional ban was on the ballot in Michigan, or wherever.

Well, lately I have a new response to that. The jig’s up. News flash! Civil unions are bad for marriage!

And no where have I read a more convincing argument supporting this assertion than in a book co-written by David G. Myers and Letha Dawson Sconzoni – “What God Has Joined Together? A Christian Case for Gay Marriage.”

But why, you may ask, is it so wonderful that this person Myers wrote this book? Others have written tomes advancing the idea that gays ought to be able to marry.

Because Myers is a tenured psychology professor, with exceptional publishing credentials, at Hope College, a private college operated by one of the most conservative Christian denominations in the country: The Reformed Church in America.

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Mr. Myers in 2004 just before his book was published. When the college learned of the book, officials there quickly distanced themselves from the book, noting that Myers is an academic of great repute and what he writes is his opinion, not the college’s.

One of the largest financial contributors to the college was less kind. Jack DeWitt, who is a board member of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, resorted to the most sophomoric cliché when he told me that allowing two men to marry each other, or two women to marry each other, was the equivalent of allowing two dogs to marry or two ducks to marry. DeWitt, however, recognized that Myers was held in very high esteem in academic circles, so DeWitt acquiesced somewhat and said as long as Myers’ book wasn’t used as a text in a Hope College class, he would continue to support the college financially.

Gee, how magnanimous of him.

You ought to read Myers’ book. His essential premise is that extending marriage opportunities to same-sex couples strengthens marriage rather than weakens it. Sociological data shows that the creation of civil unions has the opposite effect that was intended: rather than preserving and strengthening marriage, having the option of civil unions weakens marriage because you have to offer it to both gay and straight couples.

His voice is very important to the debate. Because he is not gay, but a religious conservative, he speaks to the audience that won’t listen to us gays: religious conservatives. We can rant all we want until we’re blue in the face and the religious folk will just shake their heads and close their ears. But someone like Myers is an E.F. Hutton among religious conservatives: When he speaks, they listen.

No comments: