Q. Why are gay rights advocates changing the terminology from “gay marriage” to “marriage equality”?
A. Because “marriage equality” wins more votes.
In October 2011 a Rutgers-Eagleton poll revealed that 52 percent of voters in New Jersey supported “gay marriage.” That’s significant enough for us to ponder, but when the question was reframed as “marriage equality,” support for same-sex marriage increased by 9 points to 61 percent.
“One of the simplest rhetorical truths is that the side that defines the vocabulary of a debate wins the debate,” columnist Selwyn Duke observed recently about the 2012 election. Labels are powerful. Why hand victory to opponents of traditional marriage by using their language when it comes to marriage?
It is time to articulate the issue on our own terms. We need a new paradigm for the new redefinition of marriage.
Opposing “gay marriage” makes it sound as if we oppose gays. This plays right into supporters’ hands; they want us to look anti-gay so they can call us hate-filled. But we’re not. We have friends, relatives, and neighbors dealing with same sex attraction; we’re not against them. We are sceptical of the gay agenda.
The term “gay marriage” also implies that marriage needs to be redefined to accommodate individuals with same-sex attraction, as if they are excluded from gender-integrated marriage. But they are not. Everyone has a gender; everyone qualifies.
There is no litmus test for sexual preference in order to obtain a marriage license in the six American states and ten countries where homosexuals can marry. In fact, unlikely as it might seem, two guys could “marry” each other and obtain legal benefits even if they were heterosexual. Hence calling it “gay marriage” or “homosexual partnership” is inaccurate.
The term “same-sex marriage” is also equivocal. Although the term commonly refers to the same gender, it also implies that what two guys do in their bedroom is identical to what a husband and wife do. As we all know, the sex is definitely not the same. It is different biologically, socially, and physically.
How about the term “marriage equality”? This implies that the union of two men is equal to one man and one woman. In other words, men and women are interchangeable. (Of course marriage equality activists don’t really believe this. If men and women were truly interchangeable when it comes to sex, we would all be bisexual.)
Certainly men and women are equal in dignity and worth, but men and women have different forms and functions when it comes to biology, sex, marriage, and motherhood. Marriage equality activists ignore this inconvenient truth. But science, logic, and common sense recognize the crucial difference between men and women. In fact, most people find gender a cause for celebration, not rejection and separation. Vive la difference!
Opposing “marriage equality” sounds like we are in favor of inequality. Plus, as noted previously, it increases support for redefining marriage by nine percentage points. Let’s not be duped by the “marriage equality” lingo.
What we need in this debate are accurate labels.
First of all, two men together do not constitute a marriage in the traditional sense of the word. Here is an analogy. Recently the Swedish government decided that Kopimism is a religion. According to its spiritual leader, a 20-year-old philosophy student named Isak Gerson, Kopimists worship file-sharing and copying information. No God or gods or afterlife. Just pirating videos.
Some folks might consider Kopimism a cop-out from an authentic religion. Most people would agree, however, that calling Kopimism a religion redefines religion. In the same way, calling legally recognised homosexual unions “marriage” concedes defeat simply by using the term “marriage.” Instead of “marriage,” we should call it a “partnership.”
Second, what is the defining characteristic of these unions? Rather than being gender-integrated as true marriage is, they are segregated by gender.
This is a much more far-reaching issue than mere homosexuality. Only 1.4 percent of the population is homosexual. But gender-segregated marriage will affect all of society because it is an assault on our very genders, our bodies, ourselves. Gender segregation denies the beauty, power, and importance of gender diversity.
A crucial problem with homosexual relationships is the exclusion of the other gender. Calling it gender-segregated takes the focus off homosexuality and highlights the gender issue. Instead of boxing in an individual’s sexual preference, which can change, it bases marriage law on the biological sex of a person, which is stable. Rather than stressing what the individual wants, it emphasizes who the person actually is.
Instead of welcoming complementary differences and tolerating biological differences, this new fad celebrates the separation of genders. Calling this a gender-segregated partnership has the virtue of being both clear and accurate.
Regardless of whether or not they have same-sex attraction, the drawback with two men linking up is that any children they adopt will grow up lacking a mother. The core problem for this family is they purposely exclude women. Similarly, children adopted by two females exclude men.
This movement deftly manages to sabotage motherhood and fatherhood, femininity and masculinity, depending on the gender of the couple. It reinforces the “abolish gender” mentality. Localities that legalize the union of two men or two women must rewrite their marriage licenses and birth certificates to remove gender specific terms such as bride and groom and mother and father. They replace those words with the neutered terms spouse and parent. Same-sex marriage pretends to pro-homosexual, but in reality it is anti-gender.
By its very nature, the institution of marriage is gender-integrated. It brings together two very different outlooks, personal experiences, and backgrounds. Gay rights activists claim they want diversity, but separating couples by gender reduces diversity in the all-important family cell. Families are a microcosm of society. Our first lessons in tolerance are taught at home. Excluding an entire gender from the home is a dangerous shift toward sterility and uniformity and prejudice.
Currently youth are trending in favor of gay rights. It is crucial for them to hear that “marriage equality” is actually anti-diversity. They need to know we are not discriminating against individuals with same-sex attraction; we are fighting gender discrimination in marriage. We support gender integration. We need to state our case clearly so the texting generation will want to join our team. They can text “gsp” as quickly as “gay.”
People with same sex attraction are currently enjoying dream run in the media. Taking a stand against “gay marriage” leads to torrid discussions about homosexuality. Referring to this phenomenon as gender segregation keeps the focus on gender, not the sexual attraction or activity. It is scientific, objective, quantifiable. Everyone has a gender; we are all on an equal footing. We can have intelligent conversations without name-calling: homophobic, hate-filled, bigot, anti-gay, etc.
We are born male and female. When two men hook up, it is gender segregation; when a man and woman marry, it is gender integration. So the next time someone asks your opinion about “gay marriage” or “marriage equality,” ask him how he feels about gender-segregated partnerships.
Our future relies on men and women. Together.
Frances Kelly lives in the United States with her husband and daughters. She writes about gender issues for Homegriddle.