Sexuality and Gender

Marriage Equality Already Exists

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Author Alan Shlemon Published on 04/19/2013

Alan’s monthly letter for June 2012

Dear Friend,

President Obama became the first sitting U.S. President to support same-sex marriage. While many Americans were angered, others were jubilant. His coming out caused a tidal wave of discussion around the country. Many of those dialogues ended up finding their way to me. I’ve been flooded with requests to help people sort through the legal and moral issues. One challenge that keeps recurring is the claim that the current marriage law violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

The clause reads, “No state shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The amendment was adopted in 1868, in part, to provide African Americans, Chinese Americans, and other racial minorities the same privileges and protections that every other citizen enjoys. Now same-sex marriage advocates are invoking this clause in their fight for “marriage equality,” a phrase intended to imply that homosexuals don’t have the same marriage rights as heterosexuals. But marriage equality already exists.

There is nothing unfair about current marriage laws. Homosexuals have the same rights and the same restrictions as heterosexuals. For example, there is no legal right granted to a heterosexual that does not apply in exactly the same way to every homosexual. Both can marry in any state. Both can receive the benefits that come with legal marriage. Heterosexuals and homosexuals are treated equally.

There is also no legal restriction for homosexuals that does not also apply in exactly the same way to every heterosexual. Neither can marry their sibling or parent. They can’t marry someone already married. Both are prohibited from marrying a child. And neither has the freedom to marry someone of the same sex. The pool of people available to marry is reduced equally for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike.

The marriage law applies in the same way to every person, no matter their orientation. Everyone is treated equally.

So when someone approaches me with this challenge, I ask them a question: What right does a heterosexual have that a homosexual doesn’t also have regarding the marriage law? Then I wait for an answer. But they usually don’t answer that question. Instead, they often ignore what I asked or raise another point. I don’t let them do that. If they’re claiming that homosexuals aren’t equally protected under the marriage law, then they need to cite an example.

The most common answer is that heterosexuals can marry the person they love, while homosexuals can’t. But there are two problems with this response. First, love is not part of the marriage laws. The government doesn’t care about your feelings or whether you’re in love. That’s irrelevant. Its purpose is to ensure the would-be couple is eligible to marry.

Second, while it’s true that homosexuals can’t marry any person they love, the same is true for heterosexuals. There isn’t a person in the United States that has unfettered freedom to marry anyone they love. You might love someone who is already married, but you can’t marry them. There are all sorts of people you can love—children, same-sex friends, parents, siblings, comatose friends—that you can’t marry. And, again, the restrictions are exactly the same for both heterosexuals and homosexuals.

It turns out, ironically, that allowing same-sex marriage won’t create marriage equality after all. It will give homosexuals a special pass to marry according to their desire—a right no one else has. The demand for same-sex marriage isn’t primarily about the right to marry. It’s a demand for the social approval of homosexuality. And that’s a subject I’ve taken up in earnest this year.

I’ve written over a dozen blog posts on the Stand to Reason website addressing various challenges pertaining to homosexuality. I’ve also been writing a new book on homosexuality that will be published by Stand to Reason later this year. Your partnership has made this possible. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your financial support. Without you, I couldn’t be on the front lines making a case for the Kingdom.

With thanks,

Alan Shlemon