The Marriage Debate

In “Marriage: For Better? Or Worse?” (Fall 2001), the author petitions for same-sex marriage with the argument that “same-sex couples…are the nation’s most unabashed supporters of matrimony.” What she does not say is that same-sex couples are also the nation’s most unabashed supporters of homosexual behavior. The article also states that “the government is not on the side of love and commitment when it comes to same-sex couples.” This would be true if love and commitment were the only issues to consider in sanctioning same-sex marriage. In fact, they are not. The primary issue is that if society sanctions same-sex marriage, it also sanctions homosexual behavior. This is something that the majority of us are not willing to do. Our ethical sense compels us to treat every human being, homosexual or heterosexual, justly and with dignity. But it is that same ethical sense that demands that we exercise restraint in our sexual behaviors. As a compassionate society, we do not go so far as to censure homosexual behavior, but neither must we condone it by sanctioning same-sex marriage.
David Marwil ’70
Lexington, Kentucky

The article “Wedding Rights” covers a lot of ground, and yet leaves out an examination of the very basic question of marriage: The nature of commitment. I would offer that couple-hood is treated as a class of family-tie all its own. Change is acceptable if you can manage it and remain a couple. Growth is expected, but growing apart isn’t even considered a possibility, certainly in no way a positive one. Significantly, if couple-hood comes to an end, it is taken for granted that the person who was family—no longer is. Here is a possible commitment: I promise, before our friends, family, and larger community, to care about you, to want the best for you, to work with you to understand each other, and to build a life together. I have found in you and in our relationship something very precious to cherish, and nurture, and honor. I’m asking everyone I’m close to to help me do right by this, neither holding too tightly nor ever taking this for granted. Do the words: “And I promise we will never be parted” really add to this? Or do they sound a little childish and prideful by comparison? What if we leave out those add-on words. Does this make it harder to explain what the commitment is? Surely it does. Does it make it any less of a commitment? Well…legally it is not a marriage, nor is there any other legal way to recognize it. Some might say this is an insufficient foundation for raising children. Maybe raising children is, appropriately, a very profound and separate commitment all of its own.
Dana Forsberg ’85

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