A misconceived position: Traditional marriage
Letter to the Editor | Monday, December 8, 2014
Gay rights and the marriage debate. Few other topics are more polarized in our society. This debate is often depicted as a battle between good and evil. On one side we have young, enlightened and open-minded individuals that fight for the equality and acceptance of all members of society. On the opposing end we have close-minded people, raised in a bigoted tradition and too set in their ways to see the goodness of change. But is this really a true representation of either group? Does supporting a traditional view of marriage automatically imply bigotry and ignorance?
I will state two things: I support traditional marriage, and I love gay people. These statements may seem contradictory to some, but they needn’t be. I have always held the beliefs of the Catholic Church, the most important of which I consider to be the law of love. It was only a matter of time before I became confused about how the Church expected me to love everyone, yet deny happiness to my homosexual brothers and sisters. For a while I supported the idea of civil unions and almost that of same-sex marriage as a whole. But had I done that, it would have been out of confusion and not conviction. I did not understand the debate at hand. My faith told me I should oppose same-sex marriage and society told me the only way to love my neighbor was by supporting it.
Then, in the midst of a very confusing time, I ran into book called, “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.” It eloquently explained the position of traditional marriage supporters with purely secular arguments. Although the authors were Catholic, their reasons for traditional marriage were not just based on religious conviction, but on a logical reasoning about why society has and needs marriage. It was a life changer for me. Not only was I, for the first time, truly convinced by the traditional marriage argument, but I transformed the way I look as marriage as a whole. I learned that marriage can only be between a man and a woman not because society decides so, but because it’s in the basic essence of it. To say marriage is also between two members of the same sex, or between more than two people, or not a permanent and exclusive union would be to redefine the understanding of marriage itself. It would no longer be marriage, just something called by the same name. The debate is not about equality (who can marry) but rather about redefinition (what it means to marry).
Nevertheless, my intention in this letter is not to defend traditional marriage, but rather to defend the well-intentioned group of people who fight for it. President Obama himself has said that there are people of goodwill on both sides of this legitimate debate. I do not deny that there are also mean-spirited people fueled by anti-gay sentiment supporting traditional marriage, but that’s not everyone and I dare say the hateful are probably the minority. I oppose those ill-intentioned people entirely and think they are wrong in their reasoning. Yet, I can say with full certainty that many people who support traditional marriage do not do so out of hatred or intolerance, but rather out of love for society. I know I do. I believe traditional marriage is essential for the sake of children and their families, and I would be betraying the members of society who I am called to love, gay and straight alike, if I did not defend what I believe to be right. May I add that many gay and bisexual individuals also share this point of view.
I do not expect all people to agree with me on what marriage is and what it isn’t. Diversity of ideas is key to a healthy society. What I expect of people, especially of the members of this great University, is to respect the ideas of others and to listen to them. Let’s do away with hate speech on both sides of the debate and instead promote the tolerance we all so fervently desire. Let’s be open to respectful dialogue on the difficult questions and keep in mind that good-intentioned people can hold different ideas and perspectives.
Luis Erana Salmeron
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.