Same-sex Marriage Impacts HeterosexualsPosted: May 5, 2012
In debates about whether same-sex marriage is a good thing for society overall, there are often claims that it brings no negative impact to heterosexuals. Graphs such as the one displayed here circulate around the blogosphere, implying that same-sex marriage causes no harm and that therefore, there is no reason to object to it. But is that the case?
There is evidence that it impacts others, in part mirroring how the increasing visibility of homosexuality in our culture, has led to heterosexual same-sex friends modifying their behaviour, IE being less affectionate compared with previous generations.
Increasingly, same-sex relationships mean raising children. The negatives in that may not be huge, but it does tend to mean missing out on the parenting of one of the genders, which of course is not an optimal situation, as even some gay people have agreed (EG1, EG2, EG3, EG4). Additionally, because homosexual relationships on average do not last as long as heterosexual relationships, the homosexual families are less stable, on average, for children. Experts advise that stability is of huge importance to optimal child development.
Experience has shown that anti-discrimination policy for homosexuality does marginalise and discriminate against conservative Christians, IE various cases of loss of employment (EG2, EG3), reduction in parenting rights, reduction in rights to become parents, loss of premises, loss of rights in business autonomy, fines and suspensions, sometimes forcing Christians to support it. Christian families also loose out. The social changes can result in the bullying of Christian children. In Ontario, Bill 13 requires Catholic schools to host “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs and ironically prohibits public schools from being rented to groups that ‘discriminate’. Christian parents come to feel that they need to remove their children from public schools in order to safeguard them from the resulting mandated same-sex indoctrination that contradicts their religion. And there have been claims that Christian adolescents will be deterred from entering a range of professions.
It’s also been suggested that there will be a financial impact on heterosexuals. One the one hand it’s said that the purchasing of gifts and travel etc that comes with gay marriages will boost the economy for everyone. But on the other hand, married couples receive tax benefits, so that additional money has to come from somewhere, and logically means increased taxes for everyone.
And there’s the question of whether redefining marriage to avoid discrimination means that eventually it will be defined to avoid discrimination against other types of sexual relationships, eg polygamy, and other types of sex that are currently considered taboo. Because according to contemporary secular morality, discrimination is a bad thing, right? 3-way relationships are uncommon but far from unheard of in the gay community (EG1, EG2, EG3), as is the case in the straight community. Despite even liberals pointing out negative impacts of legal polygamy, there are indications here and there around the world of pressures to legally accept it, as do dozens of countries already. The question of whether same-sex marriage will lead to broad acceptance of polygamous marriage is unclear and may not be clear for generations to come. But if the happiness and freedom of the individual is society’s top goal, it makes sense that polygamy is permitted, along with other icky things (EG2, EG3) that are sometimes undertaken by largely nice people, but which are usually hidden away and frowned upon.
Yes, same-sex marriage has been legal in some countries for some years, but Im told that citizens of those countries still distinguish between heterosexual marriage and homosexual marriage, often referring to the latter as “gay marriage”. But for future generations, perhaps that distinction will fade away, and both types of marriage will be thought of the same way, just as “marriage”? At present, Washington State is looking into de-emphasising the distinction, by removing the terms ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ from marriage certificates to make them gender-neutral. What will this new world of marriage be like? I have a few thoughts on that…
Lets say that Gary & Gareth are a married gay couple. Next door live Simon and Simmone, a married straight couple. Gary and Simon are good friends – they grew up together, went to the same schools, and still catch up regularly at the local pub. Simon is entirely straight, and Gary is entirely gay, but they share similar thoughts on politics and have similar interests, and their friendship is strong. Simmone is proud of her husband for his open-minded perspective towards gay people. Being a fairly typical male gay couple, Gary & Gareth have an “open” relationship, ie they have a policy of restricted non-monogamy. The policy in their case, is that either partner can have sex with others, so long as they use protection against STIs, so long as the sex does not take place in their own home, and so long as they dont stay the night with the third party. Simon generally isnt interested in his neighbour Gary’s sex life, but sometimes, when there is a lull in the conversation, Gary mentions to Simon of a recent sexual exploit, especially if it is with someone who Simon knows and may have assumed was entirely straight.
Simon listens to the stories of gay sexual escapades with a level of disinterest, and with one eye on a barmaid named Desire. Simon finds the barmaid very attractive, but he also truly loves his wife Simmone, and wouldnt want to jeopardise his marriage. He knows that Simmone has a jealous tendency and that cheating on her would be problematic. However, one night after a few beers, the barmaid corners Simon on his way to the bathroom. She tells him that she knows he steals glances at her, and that she also finds him attractive. Simon pauses like a stunned rabbit, and the barmaid pulls him into the small bathroom with her. Simon knows what is coming, and has to make a quick decision; fidelity or infidelity. He feels very tempted, and thinks to himself that if an open relationship works for Gary’s marriage, there is no reason it cant work for his too. Simon later proposes an open relationship to Simmone, saying that if it works for the neighbours, it could work for them also. She secretly hates the idea, but she’s going through a stressful period at work and has also recently been arguing with her best friend. She feels like various relationships in her life are already stretched, and she would rather compromise than loose Simon, so she reluctantly agrees. Simmone grows increasingly resentful though and an emotional distance opens up between them as Simon in turn begins to feel rejected by Simmone. Ultimately they separate and divorce.
The story above seeks to illustrate that bringing homosexual relationships into the definition of ‘marriage’ is not just about bringing different sexualities under the same title of official relationship. It’s also about bringing different models of relationship under that title. Whereas marriage tends to mean monogamy for heterosexual couples, it tends to not mean that for homosexual couples. By both forms of relationship having the same title, the distinction between monogamy and non-monogamy is reduced. Others have commented similarly and even the Pope has said that including same-sex couples in the definition of marriage, has a destabilising effect for heterosexual marriage.
Additionally, churches can be impacted. For example, although the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2011 that gay marriage is not a human right, it’s reported that in Denmark, all churches must conduct same-sex marriages, and there are indications of intrusions into freedoms for US church groups too.
It would be nice if the actions of one group of people had no impact on another. But the idea that gay marriage does not impact heterosexuals is a myth.