In the debate about same-sex marriage, opponents of gay marriage make the claim they are “protecting traditional marriage.”
Yet, divorce is the most common result of the break down of marriage, but where are the throngs of people leading the charge to change divorce law, making it harder to obtain, and only for solid reasons? Yes, the greatest threat to marriage is divorce, and we don’t hear the same protectors of marriage working to modify divorce law. Of course divorce is a necessary option in cases of abuse and infidelity, but with cases of heterosexuals like Britney Spears’ 24 hour marriage, and serial monogamists that have several marriages throughout their lives, there is plenty of abuse of easily obtainable divorce.
It is worth noting that conservative Christians, the group most likely to oppose same sex marriage, have higher divorce rates than other religious groups, even higher than atheists or agnostics.
Perhaps the marriage protectors could propose a constitutional amendment to deny marriage licenses to people who have divorced. That would be a much better way to “protect” marriage than denying licenses to people based on the more subjective concept of the immorality of same sex attraction. Maybe people would think twice before they got married or divorced if they only had one shot at it, rather than multiple shots.
It is a dangerous road to travel using a moral litmus test for who the state will allow to enter the marriage contract. The State has no interest in denying marriage licenses based on the morality of any single religion or segment of society, for that would be an endorsement of a particular religious belief to the exclusion of others. In determining what the state can or can’t ban, it must show a compelling interest for any law denying a benefit to one group of citizens and not to another. What is the state’s compelling interest in sanctioning a marriage or not sanctioning it? The state is not interested in morals, but in taxing families versus singles.
If people in the US really wish to protect marriage, people who are gamblers, alcoholics or drug addicted could be denied marriage licenses because the likelihood of those marriages lasting is pretty small. The same could go for people who were abused as children, because it is very common and statistically likely that abused people will grow up to be abusers. We could spare a lot of children abuse if we enacted that one simple safeguard. How about the morality of having children out of wedlock? If we denied marriage licenses to people that had children out of wedlock, government would be setting a great moral standard of what should be the preferred form of marriage.
In fact, the last example of denying marriage licenses to people who have children out of wedlock is a near perfect corollary to denying marriage licenses to same sex couples who have already established committed relationships with children. If your objection to gay marriage is purely based on the fact that you don’t think homosexuality is morally acceptable, well chances are your beliefs also condemn is fornication, so to be consistent any person who has had sex outside of marriage should be denied a marriage license.
The state may be interested in family stability, but once again, allowing more families, even those headed by to people of the same sex, is more stable than families parting ways in divorces.
With all that said, if you really wish to protect marriage and families, be good to your spouse, be good to your children, and encourage others to do the same.