The question of homosexual marriages has over the years been a source of great debates, with proponents putting forth a number of seemingly valid arguments, while opponents also put forth strong counterarguments and arguments against their legalization. Bennett however, presents arguments against the legalization of homosexuality, beginning with the concern of how its legalization may affect the very definition and perception of marriage, before proceeding to discuss how acceptance of gay marriages would go against religious and cultural teachings. Further, Bennett also argues that taking the step of legalizing gay or lesbian marriages despite their open approach to relationships, would effectively challenge the concept of faithfulness as a major pillar of marriage, not to mention leading to confusion amongst the youths as well as forcing same sex marriages to be regarded in the same vein as heterosexual marriages, even when it comes to parenting. Overall, I do agree with Bennett’s argument that allowing gay or same sex marriages would not be a good idea.
From a religious point of view, the bible quite clearly condemns and discourages same sex relationships, let alone same sex marriages. Bennett’s assertion that his position on same sex marriage “…mirrors the accumulated wisdom of millennia and the teaching of every major religion,” is actually very true, more so from a Christian standpoint. The bible is fraught with instances in which homosexuality is condemned, and in some instances, such as in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah even severely punished. The book of Genesis, which follows the story of Lot, Abraham’s brother; details how Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed due to its sinful ways, with specific implications towards the sole reason being the widespread homosexuality witnessed. The destruction that occurs soon after the arrival of the angels actually occurs due to the misbehavior of the men of Sodom, who despite being offered Lot’s daughters, refuse and insist that they only want the men who he had in his house (the angels) (Genesis 19: 4-24). Other scriptures that expressly forbid the practice of homosexuality, include the book of Leviticus chapter 18 verse 22 actually states, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination,” with chapter 20 verse 13 stating that anyone who broke this rule would have to be put to death. Similarly, Islam also prohibits homosexuality, with a number of scriptures referring to it as transgression. Bennett’s claim that gay marriages go against the teachings of major religions is therefore, quite true, and considering that religion is an aspect of human kind that has been in existence for millennia, arguing that same sex relationships and marriages go against accumulated wisdom of millennia is a valid claim.
On the basis of culture, marriage is traditionally defined as a union between a man and a woman, which makes Bennett’s claim that it is no coincidence that marriages are universally recognized as a union between a man and a woman convincing. Indeed in no traditional society in the world is marriage regarded as being a choice between heterosexual couples and homosexual couples, with the strict definition in all cases, being a union between a man and a woman. Indeed part of the reason for the universal homogeneity when it comes to marriage can be said to arise from the views that most cultures have on the role of marriage. Most cultures view the institution of marriage as an avenue through which two individuals can continue the family line, and thereby by extension, serve the interests of the family. In fact one of the greatest cultural arguments against homosexual unions is their inability to bring forth natural offspring or heirs. Due to this purpose of marriage, it has always been regarded as a union between a man and a woman, changing that would indeed amount to throwing millennia of cultural beliefs and practices out the window.
Claims by Bennett that norms applicable within same sex relationships are usually different to those applicable to heterosexual relationships, and therefore, promote infidelity hence gay marriages may essentially water down the significance of marriage are also quite valid. Explanations provided by Martell and Prince (2005) not only serve to affirm these assertions by Bennett, but also serve to provide explanations for this distinction in norms. These authors argue that due to the fact that same sex relationships are usually a statement against, as well as signify the rejection of cultural norms, same sex couples are usually tempted to go even as far as to go against monogamy, which may be viewed as oppressive and backward. The difference in norms therefore, encourages unfaithfulness, which in turn is allowed to, may actually be detrimental to the perception and purpose of marriage.
Homosexuality changes the idea that marriage is a single, moralistic model. Allowing homosexual marriages will be disagreeing with the idea that marriage is moral affair that highly depends on belief and therefore should not be boarded. Homosexuality tends to provide extramarital outlets according to William Bennette. Since these outlets provide change of beliefs other factors such as sibling marriage or incest will not be exempted. Therefore, it is essential to respect that marriage is a contract that strongly relies on belief and striving to broaden it will mostly change the belief thus resulting to lower value of marriage. Considering marriage as a single, moralistic action will provide a clear understanding of what should be expected in a marriage morally and issues as infidelity will be condemned automatically. Therefore changing the imaginative narrowly designed meaning of marriage will be openly discussing the changes that can be made to existing definitions of marriage.
Homosexuality signals a change on human sexuality causing confusion on societal differences. The youth for instance is the group that has already started changing the traditional meaning of marriage where heterogeneous marriages were the only way. According to the article the by Bennette the youth are actually openly proclaiming that they are homosexual even those who are not. In fact, to the youth it is regarded as a better life style according to school counselors. By changing the society image on marriage other beliefs relating to the topic will also be questioned. For instance, by changing marriage to be between man and woman as the society perceives to be a union between two people will further mean that other societal issues such as infidelity, long term contract view of marriage will be questioned. In that light changing the basic view of marriage will not only change the parties that should be involved but also raise several other issues that should not be questioned by the society. It is also essential to embrace that it will be difficult for the youth to clearly understand the normality of heterogeneous marriage because accepting homogeneous marriages will mean that school curriculum will incorporate the same teachings.
Though sexual revolution arguments may state that homogenous and heterogeneous marriages are the same, it is not actually correct. The heterogeneous marriage cannot at all compare to homogenous marriages based on the fact that the two marriages differ in areas such as relationship duration, level of commitment, number of children the couple decides to raise, health risks, promiscuity and partner violence. According to Allan Howrwitz , homogenous marriages faced lower levels of commitment and children in this kind of marriage were more likely to be abused. According to A Longitudinal Study of a Cohort of Young Adults (896), though there are many divorce cases among heterogeneous couples sixty-six percent of first marriages among heterogeneous couples last longer than ten years. This is different among homogenous couples whose level of commitment is too low, while highest percentage relationship only last a few months. Further, homogenous partners are less likely to take good care of a child while compared to heterogeneous partners. A child with two male parents is not likely to receive the same care as a parent with both male and female parents. Study by Matthew Bramlett and William Mosher (2001) show that children with both male and female parent have less behavioral problems.
All in all, Bennett is therefore, quite accurate in his claims against the legitimization of same sex marriages. More so when one considers the effect progressive legitimization has had on marriage as an institution, as well as on family life. Not to mention the numerous valid religious, cultural and social arguments against same sex relationships. I therefore, do agree with Bennett’s proposition that gay or same sex marriage is not a good idea.
Allan Horwitz. Becoming Married and Mental Health: A Longitudinal Study of a Cohort of Young Adults. Journal of Marriage and the Family, November 1996: 895-907
Matthew Bramlett and William Mosher. First marriage dissolution, divorce and remarriage: United States. National Center for Health Statistics, 31 May 2001
Martell, C., & Prince, S. Treating infidelity in same-sex couples. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61, 1429-1438. 2005.