A Letter to the Chicago Tribune

Published Nov 21, 2006:

Mr. Stone importunes Illinoisans in his commentary “Gays Kept Separated” (Nov. 19, 2006) to legalize same-sex marriage, arguing that maintaining sexual complementarity as an essential criterion for marriage represents discrimination and the imposition of faith practices.

My understanding is that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was intended to prevent the establishment of a state religion, not to prevent religious values from informing political decisions. Since people from many religious faiths and no religious faith have long agreed upon the essential place of sexual complementarity in the nurturance of the next generation, laws that reflect those convictions hardly seem a violation of the Establishment Clause. One could argue that those who attend houses of worship that support legalized same-sex unions are similarly attempting to enshrine in law their religious beliefs.

The idea of a separation of church and state no longer points to the importance of protecting religious freedom from the intrusive power of the state but instead refers to coercively eradicating religious expression from the public square. Only secularism, a worldview as shaped by myopic, dogmatic, unproved assumptions (as some argue religious views are), will be tolerated.

Mr. Stone expresses concern with what he perceives as discrimination. Illegitimate discrimination refers to unfavorable treatment of others based on ignorance. Discrimination, however, can also refer to discriminating between right and wrong, in which case it is an essential personal and civic activity. Conflating the two meanings of discrimination, or asserting that all negative judgments reflect prejudice, represents demagoguery. Principled opposition to homosexuality no more embodies illegitimate discrimination than does principled opposition to polyamory or adult consensual incest.

The analogy between race and homosexuality is specious at best. Science has in no way proved that homosexual attraction is biologically determined. Even “queer theory” which emerges from the homosexual community denies that sexual orientation is inherent and immutable. But most important, the contribution of biological influences to the development of an impulse is irrelevant to a moral evaluation of consequent conduct.

Clearly, Mr. Stone has no compunction against imposing morality in that he seeks to impose his moral view that gender is irrelevant to marriage, which leaves age, consanguinity, and numbers of partners as the remaining criteria. But why should he or anyone else be allowed to impose those particular moral strictures on all of society? If I love and am attracted to my brother or five people of assorted genders, why should an intolerant, prejudiced society be permitted to impose those moral views on me?

Historically, society has determined that since marriage is fundamental to the health of society, it is the right and responsibility of society collectively to define marriage. That society has made mistakes and included criteria that were not fundamental to marriage (as with anti-miscegenation laws) does not mean that society has been wrong on all criteria. Tradition, sociology, biology, psychology and, yes, religion have held that both men and women are crucial to the fulfillment of children’s needs. The importance of both sexes points to their fundamental differences which even homosexuals acknowledge when they express a preference for their own gender. Since there is almost universal agreement that men and women are fundamentally different, heterosexual unions must be of a different character than homosexual unions. And throughout history, societies have embodied in law the belief that heterosexual unions contribute something essential to civic health unmatched by homosexual unions.

Laurie Higgins
Deerfield, Illinois

This article was posted on Saturday, November 25th, 2006 at 10:04 pm and is filed under "Civil Unions" & "Gay Marriage". You can follow any updates to this article through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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