Why Same-Sex Marriage Can’t Afford to Be Tolerant

Mere Orthodoxy’s Matt Anderson explains why “an anti-liberal approach toward dissenting views is part of the DNA of the logic of the current gay rights argument”:

Imagine, for a moment, that cultural conservatives are right that the family which begins within the union of a man and a woman is a morally unique institution, irreplacable in its role in society and inimitable in its shape by other voluntary associations of free adults, such as gay unions….

Then grant this simple premise: that humans are fundamentally and inescapably truth-telling beings, and that falsehoods require an elaborate and complex support structure if they are to take hold and endure for a long period of time. A child might believe that Santa Claus is real and get on with the world just fine. But as they grow older, the kinds of backflips, self-deceptions, and tricks they would have to go through in order to maintain such a belief would be dazzling.

Now, momentarily return to that peculiar and strange thought that same-sex sexual relationships, whatever other goods [they] have, lack particular features which make heterosexual relationships morally unique. Given human sexuality’s clear importance, and given humanity’s truth-telling nature, what kind of artifice would need to be in place to support and sustain such a deception within a society over a long period of time? What kind of intervention into the course of normal human affairs would a society have to undertake in order to obscure the morally relevant differences between those forms of sexual behavior that can generate children and those that cannot? What kind of construct would we have to build in order to maintain the premise that all consenting erotic associations are equal, that the union of the lives of two adults (even where children are introduced via the tragedy beneath adoption or through the artifice of technology) is of the same kind as those families where a man and a woman’s love and life together introduces a third member into the community who bears witness, within their very bodies, of the love of that mother and father for each other and for no one else in a way that removing children from their biological parentage necessarily diminishes? And once this structure is built, would it have the structural integrity to allow for meaningful and public dissent? Or would it be so fragile, because false, that it had to “stamp out” competing accounts of the world? 

Erasing or obscuring the moral uniqueness of the traditional nuclear family unit—if there is one would require, dare I say, both an extensive and elaborate artifice that attempted to reconfigure not simply the family, but all those institutions which the family has some bearing upon. Maintaining such a support would require the most powerful and influential institutions in American life, of which there are currently (by way of hypothesis) three: entertainmentbusiness, and the government. And as long as those dominant institutions established such an outlook on the world, any remaining institutions would come under significant pressure to reform themselves accordingly.

In other words, as Seana Sugrue argued once, same-sex marriage will lead to a soft-despotism because it has to.

Read the rest here.

This is a similar point to the one Frank Beckwith made when he likened bans against interracial marriage to the endorsement of same-sex marriage—both require the intrusive force of law to maintain because neither reflects the truth about what marriage is, either denying sex is relevant or insisting race is.

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Amy K. Hall

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