Last week I addressed some of the moral concerns that commenter Hayleyanne had brought up with regards to same-sex marriage. At this point I would like to address some interesting comments she had regarding the conservative approach vs. liberal approach to this issue. She wrote:
Ultimately, I believe, if you remove the religious/moral component, the reason that many people are against SSM boils down to the difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives usually favor the status quo and are cautious with respect to fundamental change. Liberals are more willing to make fundamental changes in the name of progressive ideals. We can take good from both sides. It is a natural "push" and "pull back" that we see when any fundamental change is proposed in society.
Conservatives fear that gay marriage threatens the foundation of our society because it will change the traditional family as we know it. Tinkering with the structure that has served so well through our history is risky and may be unwise-- we don't know. On the other hand, the world is changing. Technological change has made it possible for gay couples to produce children through artificial insemination. Surrogate mothers have emerged. Adoption laws have changed to allow some gay couples to adopt. More acceptance of homosexuality has resulted in some people who were in traditional marriages with kids, coming out as gay. The reality is that we are now in a situation where gay couples are indeed raising children. How they got these kids raises some problematic issues for some people. One need only read some of the comments on your blog to see this. They wonder about the biological parent and what happened to him or her. They wonder about whether children need both a male and a female influence in their lives. Etc. I think these concerns are valid.
On the flip side, we cannot ignore that the reality is that we do have gay couples doing the hard work of raising a family and they should have all the same benefits available to a traditional family.
Personally, I think all of these issues need to be discussed openly in our society. How they are presented is very important. For example, as I have said before, through the courts is not the best way to go IMO as it leaves people feeling as if the court is forcing a change.
The issues should be discussed, fleshed out, and ultimately decided in the court of public opinion. People who come off as harshly denying gay couples with kids the benefits of other families-- wind up looking heartless and unkind. I would ask people in this camp how they propose to protect children being raised in a SS household. But people who try to argue that the two types of relationships are interchangeable and refuse to acknowledge fundamental differences come off as pushing an agenda.
Before I could get around to responding to this myself, I came across (thanks to MarriageDebate.com) this interview with Dale Carpenter conducted by Craig Westover. I think Prof. Carpenter squarely addresses some of these issues and more, and I encourage more people to read the interview. Carpenter echoes Hayleyanne's sentiments as he said:
I think gay marriage advocates have to do a better job of explaining how gay marriage is a deeply conservative cause. It is a deeply conservative idea. And they have to do that by appealing to our fellow citizens and not by running to courts.
There is something about courts that makes people want to throw tea into the Boston Harbor. It really upsets them. On the other hand, when these changes are made democratically as they were in California, when California basically very broadly adopted this domestic partner idea, or in Connecticut when Connecticut adopted civil unions, there’s something about legislatures and democratic actions that make people accept the results even when they are on the losing end. Accept the legitimacy of the results -- they may not agree with the results -- but they accept the legitimacy of the results even when they don’t win. That’s what we have to do.
This is an issue I plan to discuss further in an upcoming post later this month. In the meantime, enjoy the whole interview.