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July 11th, 2012

Same-sex marriage debate is not a matter of basic rights



By Derryck Green
By Derryck Green

The month of May was certainly a game-changer for the national conversation on homosexual marriage.

On May 8, 2012, North Carolinians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Amendment 1. The ballot measure changed the state’s constitution to define marriage as a union existing solely between a man and a woman. The approximately 61% to 39% vote in favor of the Amendment 1 makes North Carolina the 30th state to vote against homosexual marriage.

The very next day, to the surprise of exactly no one, President Barack Obama finally stated this belief: “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me - personally - it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

Of course, both of these incidents revved up the debate over the legalization of homosexual marriage and its consequences.  But there are several issues regarding homosexual marriage that have yet to be given the proper discussion they deserve.

The first is the notion of “rights.” Homosexual marriage advocates argue that marriage is a basic right. Denying this right to homosexuals would therefore be illegal. That’s not true. There’s no right to marry contained in the U.S. Constitution.

Every person who claims that the denial of the ability to marry is unconstitutional is misguided. Getting married isn’t a right.  Marriage is a civil institution that all societies in history have recognized and used as the best way to legitimize, protect and raise children as well as to solidify familial and political connections.

Second, the North Carolina law doesn’t unfairly deny anyone of the ability to marry. The law - and others like it - define and recognize marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It doesn’t exclude anyone from marrying. The law treats a heterosexual person the exact same way it treats a homosexual person, with both prohibited from marrying a person of the same sex. Traditional marriage laws define what constitutes a married couple. The laws are extended equally - regardless of sexual preference.

So the right that homosexual marriage proponents claim exists really does not. There is no right to marry someone of the same sex.  The ability for a person to marry someone of the same sex is equally denied to everyone.

Another claim that is offered in defense of homosexual marriage is that consenting adults should be allowed to marry whomever they love. But at what point is it alright to arbitrarily move the discriminatory lines of demarcation, and how is it justified?

If it’s acceptable for homosexuals to marry each other because of love and consent, then why is polygamy illegal when the parties involved are similarly in love and consenting? What about aunts and nephews or uncles and nieces when the same standards are present? If it is discrimination against homosexuals, why would it not be discrimination against these other parties?

Lastly, homosexual marriage advocates claim that legalizing homosexual marriage is a civil rights issue - equating it with the struggle to legalize interracial marriages of the past. The attempt to correlate race with sexual preferences doesn’t hold up when properly scrutinized.

Legalizing interracial marriages fulfilled the legal requirement of marriage between a man and a woman because there’s no difference between a white man and a black man or a white woman and a black woman. But there are enormous differences between a man and a woman.

It’s why there is an NBA and an WNBA and an PGA and an LPGA. In all the aforementioned sporting leagues, there is a logical separation by gender while races and ethnicities are not classified. Race doesn’t matter. Gender does.

The emotional desire to legalize homosexual marriage is understandable, but to do so would be to change the law for a specific group of people. That’s discrimination.
Derryck Green, a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network, received a M.A. in Theological Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing his doctorate in ministry at Azusa Pacific University.
2.5 / 5 (11 Votes)

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Reader Response
  • James Whistler
  • July 12th, 2012 If we allow a white woman to marry a black man, what will be next? Shall we allow her to marry her dog or her horse? The same arguments that Derryck uses here would be perfectly at home in the anti-miscegenation arguments of the 1950s and earlier. Of course there is a difference between a white man and a colored man-- anyone can see that. That is why there are separate facilities for colored people and white people. Mixing of races is against the will of God. Children deserve the benefits of parents of the same race. Anything short of this is bad for children and for society. For all his degrees, Derryck's arguments themselves don't stand up to the lightest scrutiny. Would he say that If we change our (anti-miscegenation) laws to benefit black people, that's discrimination ? Derryck starts out by saying that there is no Constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Indeed, the Constitution does not mention marriages of any kind. Derryck should try to find real arguments (not mere opinions) for why the state should support traditional (non-mixed race) marriages and mixed-race marriages, and yet deny same-sex marriages. We should also be grateful the Supreme Court that unanimously overthrew Virginia's Racial Integrity Act (in Loving v. Virginia) rejected the sort of arguments that Derryck espouses here.

    Reader Response
  • James Whistler
  • July 12th, 2012 Will my voice be heard?

    Reader Response
  • Chuck Anziulewicz
  • July 11th, 2012 DEAR DERRYCK GREEN:

    Do you actually have any Gay friends? Do you know any Gay couples? Have you ever confronted them with the notion that they have every right to marry, as long as they marry someone of the opposite sex?

    I mean, SURE, it's a joke that's guaranteed to get a laugh and a wink or two at the Sean Hannity Comedy Club. But anyone who actually KNOWS people who are Gay knows how utterly absurd it is.

    You point out that there are enormous differences between a man and a woman. Yes, and there are also enormous differences between Gay people and Straight people. Have you ever been emotionally and physically attracted to another man? NO? There's a reason for that: YOU'RE STRAIGHT.

    Ask any Straight couple why they choose to marry. Their answer will not be, We want to get married so that we can have sex and make babies! That would be absurd, since couples do not need to marry to make babies, nor is the ability of even desire to make babies a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license.

    No, the reason couples choose to marry is to make a solemn declaration before friends and family members that they wish to make a commitment to one another's happiness, health, and well-being, to the exclusion of all others. Those friends and family members will subsequently act as a force of encouragement for that couple to hold fast to their vows.

    THAT'S what makes marriage a good thing, whether the couple in question is Gay or Straight. And personally I'm confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately rule that there is simply no Constitutional justification for denying law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples the same legal benefits and protections that Straight couples have always taken for granted.

    I honestly don't understand why the prospect of the Gay couple down the street getting married gets you so bent out of shape.

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