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Opposing gay marriage

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, August 30, 2004

As someone who opposes gay marriage, or gay “marriage,” I would like to respond to the mischaracterizations offered by Michael Poffenberger.

First of all, I have to admit I cannot speak for everyone who opposes gay marriage. However, I think I understand us as a group better than Michael Poffenberger does, though he seems to be quite willing to generalize us in the most uncharitable ways. So I would claim with some confidence that we are not trying to interefere in the lives of homosexuals. I could hardly care less what gays do for, with, or to each other. If they want to live together, terrific. If they want to share bank accounts, great. If they want to go before some Unitarian minister to be pronounced husband and husband, or wife and wife, super. If they want to perform foul acts on each other, fabulous – as long as it is not in public. People like Michael Poffenberger merely flatter themselves by believing that what they do in their private lives is of any concern to us.

Gay marriage, however, if it were ever to become law, would not merely define what gays may do, but what the rest of us would have to do as well. If gay marriage were the law of the land, I and everyone else, would be obligated to recognize their relationships as equivalent to the natural lifelong union of man and woman. By opposing gay marriage, I am not trying to deny any rights, real or perceived, to homosexuals. I am trying to preserve my own right to make a moral distinction between traditional marriage -which, however abused, is still holy – and something which is unspeakably perverse. Consider an example I came across recently. There is a couple out west somewhere who own and run a bed and breakfast. They are deeply religious, and will only offer rooms to married couples. They do not want fornication taking place on their property. This is not only their moral right, but their legal right, too. If gay marriage became law, though, they would be legally compelled to provide rooms for gay couples too. The article made no mention of what they think of sodomy, but if they are appalled by fornication, I think I could make a safe guess.

Finally, I would just like to point out the hypocrisy of people like Michael Poffenberger, who claim to want respect and tolerance for all, but who have no problem leveling baseless judgments against others. According to him, if you oppose gay marriage, then you: are insensitive to the suffering of the poor; are guilty of hyperconsumption and celebrity worship; blame homosexuals for all the problems in the world; etc. Then there is his treatment of the Church, which, because a very small percentage of its priests – many of whom, it turns out, were themselves homosexual – have abused children, may not perform a task it was commissioned for, to condemn sin and call all to repentance. I wanted to point out this hypocrisy, because I saw it all the time as an undergraduate, and I am sure it will be repeated over and over in these pages and elsewhere.

Peter Ramsey


Class of 1996

Aug. 30