Penna Dexter has penned a diatribe against “gay divorce” for the Baptist Press. (LINK) This is perhaps the beginning of a new set of talking points for conservatives intent on enforcing unscientific bigotry in American law. Undeterred by growing public awareness of the scientific realities of homosexuality, conservatives are seeking new angles to keep fire under the pot.
Ms. Dexter begins:
Same-sex “marriage” is getting some high profile support lately. But in actual elections, it still loses.
With the recent vote in North Carolina, 31 states now have amended their constitutions to protect marriage, defined as the union between one man and one woman.
It is true that same-sex marriage does not fare all that well in general elections at this time. However, we must not forget one very important fact — the most important fact when it comes to human rights. America was founded on the principle that human rights are not up for vote. The Constitutional Amendments are beyond the law. They are foundational to it. American government was based on the Enlightenment principle that all humans are deserving of basic rights, especially when lawmakers or voters seek to deny them.
Equal rights for blacks did not fare well at the polls. Suffrage for women did not fare well, either. In nearly any instance where an oppressed minority has been in need of equal rights, it is precisely because so many people sought to deny them. This was the wisdom of the Founding Fathers: rights must be afforded equally to all, regardless of how many people might wish it were not so.
Another threat to traditional marriage has surfaced in Maryland: gay divorce. Maryland’s highest court recently ruled unanimously in favor of two lesbians who were married in California and, in 2010, were denied a divorce in Maryland.
This means that regardless of the referendum outcome in November, Maryland at least will recognize same-sex “marriages” from other states. Advocates of same sex “marriage” see this as a way to get the legal camel’s nose under the tent.
Yes, if gays get married, a certain percentage of them will divorce when divorce is legal. It almost sounds as if Ms. Dexter believes it would be a good thing to deny divorce to gays. Perhaps she thinks they deserve to be forced to stay in marriages that shouldn’t have been allowed in the first place. One almost senses a sadistic joy, as if she were rubbing a puppy’s nose in a pile of excrement in the middle of the kitchen floor.
The implication is that if any state is sinful enough to permit gay marriage, it falls to the other “godly” states to find yet another right to deny. “Fine, you can have marriage. But don’t you try getting divorced!”
Beyond that, the ruling begs the question: How much divorce is there in the same-sex “marriage” world? It turns out there’s a lot.
Actually, it doesn’t “beg the question” at all. The author has used the term incorrectly. (LINK) But we may proceed with the apparent intent of her question. The question of gay divorce rates is raised by the conversation, if only as a matter of scientific curiosity. However, even in the raising of the question, we must admit the irrelevance of the answer. The legality of straight marriage is not contingent upon the straight divorce rate. Why would gay marriage be any different?
Presumably, the author is intent on proving that gay marriage is somehow inferior, improper, or otherwise harmful to society because gays divorce more than straights. Indeed, that is the very next line of thought she pursues:
The United States’ history with same-sex “marriage” is short, but Scandinavian countries have been at this much longer. A Stockholm University professor of demography found that in Sweden and Norway male same-sex “marriages” are 50 percent more likely to end in divorce than heterosexual marriages.
In Sweden, the divorce rate for female couples is twice that of male couples. And in Norway, lesbian “married” couples are 167 percent more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples.
These are certainly interesting statistics, and there is some truth to them. In some places, gay divorce rates are higher than straight. In other places, gays do much better. In Denmark, which the author curiously omitted from her survey, the gay divorce rate is only 17%, as compared to 46% among straights. (LINK)
Marriage and divorce rates reflect a large number of cultural and socioeconomic factors. For instance, many straight couples decide to “stay together for the kids” even though they are no longer happy with the marriage itself. Could it be that the higher divorce rate among gays in some cultures reflects a lower rate of childrearing among gays? Could it represent a higher level of honesty among gays, who choose to divorce to be with a new partner as opposed to staying married and lying?
The notion that marriage is supposed to last for a lifetime is not universally espoused. Even among American Christians, prenuptual agreements are relatively commonplace. Affairs, mistresses, and multiple marriages are epidemic among straights. The fact that gays also divorce, and also have multiple marriages, and also cheat on spouses should not surprise us in the least. If anything, we should be shocked if, in countries where gays have only recently gained equal rights, their marriage and divorce patterns were exactly the same as straights.
These observations are reasonable, but corrollary to the main point of the argument. We must return to the underlying assumption, that if gays divorce more than straights, it means they shouldn’t be allowed to marry. Why in the universe would we think this? Will we outlaw straight marriage if our divorce rates match gay divorce rates in Sweden? It’s a barking mad concept from the beginning, and unworthy of the slightest respect.
Despite the many efforts to usher in civil unions and same-sex “marriage” in the United States, when laws are changed, the number of couples registering their partnerships is surprisingly low.
We may ask the same question. If straight marriage rates dropped to the level of gay marriage rates, would we outlaw straight marriage?
So if there’s no particular groundswell of same-sex “marriages” when it’s legalized, and if same-sex couples are more likely to divorce, what’s this really about? Advocates for same-sex “marriage” say it’s about civil rights and equality.
They won’t admit it, but it’s really about redefining marriage, making it a package of benefits. Eventually, this will result in the destruction of marriage.
Well, yes. It is about civil rights and equality, and it is about redefining marriage. Racial equality was about civil rights, and about redefining culture from the ground up. It wasn’t about how many blacks would vote. It was about all blacks having the opportunity. It wasn’t about whether a black man would ever be president. It was about guaranteeing that one could. When an institution is defined in a way that discriminates against millions of people, we do not defend the institution above people. We redefine the institution. It was that way for blacks, and for women, and it will be that way for gays.
Civil rights for blacks was a far more pervasive and visible change in American life than gay marriage will be. Whites had to learn to sit next to blacks in cafes, on buses, and at school. There were no longer any “Whites Only” establishments. Blacks were no longer carried past five white hospitals when the black hospital was two towns over. Today, gays already hold hands in public. They already sit next to straights and use the same bathrooms. They can already vote. The visible changes to society will be minimal at best.
If this line of thought isn’t enough to quell fears of society’s destruction, there’s also the historical record. Gay marriage is actually very common in history, and it has never, ever brought down a society. Not once in all of recorded history. (LINK) Furthermore, the scientific evidence on gay marriage is clear: There are no functional differences between gay and straight relationships. Children of gay parents are no worse off than children of straights. (LINK)
Ms. Dexter’s opinions and observations do not represent an argument against gay marriage. They are nothing more than hints, allegations, and innuendos designed to elicit emotional responses from homophobes, fundamentalists, and conservatives. The facts are against her. Reality is against her, and gone are the days when religious zealots could hide behind ignorant bigotry.