And now there are six

With the passage of same-sex marriage in New York, there are six American states where it is legal. Is there a bright side?
Michael Cook | Jun 28 2011 | comment  


The legalisation of same-sex marriage in the state of New York is not altogether bad news. It could wake up voters in other states – and other countries – to the strengths of the push for “marriage equality” and to the weaknesses of the defence of traditional marriage.

The first strength of the gay marriage campaign in New York, according to the New York Times, was money. Lots of money.

“The story of how same-sex marriage became legal in New York is about shifting public sentiment and individual lawmakers moved by emotional appeals from gay couples who wish to be wed. But, behind the scenes, it was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo sought the help of the guys who brought you the global financial crisis – hedge funds managers. He persuaded Paul E. Singer, the founder of Elliott Management, a Republican whose son is gay; Clifford S. Asness, of the quant fund AQR Capital; and Daniel S. Loeb, of Third Point, to donate US$1 million to the campaign.

The second strength was confusion about marriage amongst both politicians and voters. For many the magic has evaporated from marriage. They have lost sight of what it is all about. Not surprisingly for the Governor of a state which has just lost two seats in the House of Representatives because of its declining population, Cuomo neglected to explain how same-sex marriage was going to benefit the most defenceless group of all – children.

His impassioned speech behind closed doors to the Republican delegation at the governor’s mansion treated marriage merely as a sentimental partnership. Gay couples wanted recognition, he told them. “Their love is worth the same as your love. Their partnership is worth the same as your partnership. And they are equal in your eyes to you. That is the driving issue.”

Which leads us to the weakness of the defenders.

As figures from the Census Bureau reveal, married couples now form less than half (45 percent) of all US households. Married couples with children account for only 20 percent of all households – down from 43 percent in 1950. With so many children witnessing divorce and growing up in broken homes, marriage has become just a trinket, not a jewel to be prized. Native Indians sold priceless Manhattan real estate for $24 worth of cloth, beads and buttons. New York legislators done one better by selling the farm on marriage.

Human nature, logic, economics, and history all support traditional marriage – but too many people simply don’t know how precious that is.

Furthermore, the logic of same-sex marriage is the logic of contraception: that sex and children have no necessary connection to each other. That being the case, marriage is nothing more than a companionate relationship, with children an optional adornment to the partners’ mutual affection. Since about three-quarters of women between 15 and 49 use some form of contraception, it’s not surprising that voters and legislators believe that “love” is enough to create a marriage. Ultimately the levee against the rising tide of gay marriage has to be a change of heart on contraception.

How can that be done?

First of all, by the example of loving couples and their children. Every successful family is an argument against the self-centred egotism of people who care nothing about the next generation.

Second, by demonstrating more convincingly that same-sex marriage undermines traditional marriage. Many supporters find it hard to articulate why the publicly recognised union of a man and a woman with their children is the only model which works. Defeat in New York is discouraging, but it concentrates the mind on how to frame convincing arguments for future battles.

The battle is joined between those who believe that marriage is for present fellowship and those who believe that marriage is for future generations. But it will be important to remember that boodles of cash and backroom deals will not deliver victory. What is needed is a cultural change of heart. Nothing less.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.

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