It may not be a legal argument, but it is immensely persuasive: same-sex marriage is needed because otherwise gays and lesbians cannot find happiness without being false to who they are. An amicus brief to the US Supreme Court by “same-sex attracted men and their wives” confronts this difficult question squarely. The amici are linked to the Voices of Hope project sponsored by the Church of Latter Day Saints, but their answers are secular, not religious.  

The questions have been added by MercatorNet. For the full text, follow this link

One flippant response is “gays can marry anytime, as long as they marry a woman”. Is that just obnoxious stupidity?

Underlying petitioners’ appeal is this premise: the right of same-sex attracted men and women to marry a member of the opposite sex is meaningless. … Petitioners do not argue that only some, or even many, gay men and lesbians are prohibited from marrying; they insist, and their arguments depend on their proving, that marriage is foreclosed for all same-sex attracted men and women. …

Even for same-sex attracted men and women, however, marriage to a member of the opposite sex is not only possible, but can also be deeply fulfilling and meaningful. Amici are examples of this reality. Their individual journeys vary widely, but a common thread is a desire to have a wife and children and to live consistently with their beliefs about marriage and family.

Can you give any real life examples of this, or are you just making it up as you go along?    

The amicus brief quotes from the experiences of ten men with same-sex attraction with successful marriages. Here is one (see video below).

Jeff Bennion did not acknowledge his same- sex attractions until he was a young adult. He had always wanted a wife and kids, but as the years went by, he gradually gave up on the possibility, which led to a period of despair. After a turning point in his life, he was introduced to Tanya, and they began to date. He recalls, “I thought I would have to feel a powerful physical attraction to a woman in order to feel motivated and convinced that I could make a traditional marriage work.” But eventually, he decided to do things “backward.” Rather than “start with physical attraction and then proceed to emotional intimacy, I was going to start with friendship and emotional intimacy and then, I hoped, move to physical attraction.” Jeff and Tanya married. Reflecting on their marriage, he writes:

It is built on a kind of love that isn’t often sung about, that they don’t often make movies about, but that is true. It’s a love that lasts, that you can count on. It is reassuring. It fulfills and comforts and strengthens and understands. It is not just focused on itself. Most important, it is love that you can build two lives around, and even many more.

Tanya once asked Jeff if he missed the possibility of being in a same-sex relationship. Jeff answered:

Well, I still do experience those feelings, but the better question to ask is: Jeff, have you ever looked out there and seen one of those [gay] couples and wished you weren’t married to me? The answer is no. Eight years on, I’m so glad I’m married to you, and the love we have now, it just keeps getting better, it keeps getting stronger.

Ten real-life examples! There are millions of gays in the United States. Give some statistics, not just ten anecdotes.   

While petitioners’ claims reinforce a now popular and culturally dogmatic perception that same-sex marriage is the universal political and personal goal of all same-sex attracted men and women, the reality is far different. Even among those who “strongly support the principle of marriage equality,” sociologist Kathleen Hull observes, “at the level of personal experience and desires, they are more ambivalent.”20 And significant numbers of same-sex attracted men and women also choose man-woman marriage rather than pursue same-sex relationships and marriage…

[S]ignificant numbers of same-sex attracted men and women actually choose opposite-sex relationships. [Demographer Gary Gates of UCLA’s Williams Institute]s’ study of the 2013 National Health Interview Survey reveals that, “[a]mong bisexual adults with children, 51% were married with a different-sex spouse, 11% had a different-sex unmarried partner, and [only] 4% had a same-sex spouse or partner.” Even “[a]mong adults who identified as gay or lesbian and were raising children, 18% had a different-sex married spouse and 4% had a different- sex unmarried partner.”28

Why would almost two-thirds of bisexual adults with children and more than a fifth of gay or lesbian adults with children elect man-woman relationships, principally man-woman marriage? While in times past such relationships were often the only legal and culturally acceptable options, in today’s welcoming climate, the decision of same-sex attracted men and women to marry, and remain married, to opposite- sex spouses is a testament to the uniqueness of man- woman marriage as a familial relationship.

OK, you’re free to do whatever you like. But same-sex marriage can’t hurt you. Why not legalise it?    

A Constitutional right to same-sex marriage can only come at the cost of marginalizing and demeaning the marriages and families of amici and many others like them. Petitioners premise their equal-protection and due-process arguments on the assumption that man-woman marriage laws prohibit, foreclose, disqualify, and exclude gay men and lesbians from marriage and disfavor and demean their very identities and existence.

But that could only be true if the marriages of amici and others like them are fakes and shams, so contrary to nature as to be entirely undesirable. Petitioners argue, in essence, that the pursuit of a same-sex marriage is the only way for the same-sex attracted “to be true” to themselves; by insisting so, they demean and disparage amici and their families.

Whereas a democratic right to same-sex marriage is familiarly premised on the proposition that marriage should be extended to include same-sex couples in order to expand individual liberty, a constitutional right to same-sex marriage—based on an alleged impermissible discrimination or denial of right—is necessarily premised on the falsehood that man-woman marriage is impossible, unnatural, and dangerous for same-sex attracted men and women.

Legalizing same-sex marriage via the Fourteenth Amendment, rather than the ballot box, entitles same-sex couples to marriage only by erasing, marginalizing, and demeaning the same-sex attracted who live in man-woman marriages. Such an erasure of another group’s identity and existence is not a “liberty protected by the Constitution.”

Rather than expand liberty, such a judgment would not only ignore the deeply fulfilling marriages between same-sex attracted men and women and their spouses, but would also constitutionally demean such marriages and families.

Inescapably, striking down man-woman marriage laws on the basis of a constitutional deprivation would send a message to the same-sex attracted that there is only one choice for them, that man-woman marriage is unattainable, that they are acting against their nature for desiring it, and that pursuing it will be dangerous for them, their spouses, and their children.

But, in reality, the opposite is true. The institution of man-woman marriage is not an insult; it is an ensign, beckoning to anyone—regardless of sexual orientation—that the union of a man and a woman is uniquely significant because it is endowed with procreative power and complementary capacity.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.